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‘Stabilization’ plan for Scarborough’s Rouge Beach could involve hardening part of Lake Ontario shoreline

Parks Canada says Scarborough's Rouge Beach is open after shoreline remediation work this summer to repair erosion damage. Work was delayed by nesting terns, which have since flown away.

Posted on October 5, 2022

Scarborough’s Rouge Beach has been closed for repairs three times in six years, and Parks Canada has started a “stabilization strategy” which could involve hardening parts of the shoreline around the mouth of the Rouge River.

“Our teams are working with coastal engineers to propose measures to reduce erosion, stabilize and grow the beach through natural long shore deposition,” the federal agency said in a recent blog post.

“Surveying, archeology and investigation are underway to better understand the lake dynamics in the Rouge Beach area.”

Parks Canada added that long-term measures may include stone groynes, crushed stone “and a variety of other structures and interventions to further protect the shoreline and beach assets,” the Waterfront Trail and a washroom area.

Once a detailed plan is ready, Parks Canada will prioritize it for the next 10 years, the post said.

The agency closed the damaged sandy beach, one of only two accessible in Scarborough to the public, this year in June.

Part of Rouge National Urban Park, it was also damaged by flooding and erosion in 2017 and 2019.

The agency believes the beach and nearby Rouge Marsh area has been seeing up to 500,000 visitors a year.

While the river mouth “is a dynamic system that is continually changing,” with its exact location different each year, an exposed sandbar in 2022 “diverted the outflow of water in such a way as to create immediate risks to infrastructure, public safety and the stability of trees,” Parks Canada said.

Some residents objected to work excavating the sandbar to restore what the agency called “the traditional outflow of the river into Lake Ontario,” particularly after common terns were found nesting on part of the sandbar.

Though it delayed restoration of the beach, Parks Canada said it protected the nest until the baby terns flew away with their parents.

A spokesperson for the park, Sarah Simpson, said fences were removed and full public access was restored on Sept. 8.

The beach restoration was not part of the Rouge Beach Improvements Project, a plan for removing a lower parking lot near the beach and restoring part of the marsh while constructing an elevated boardwalk connecting the beach area to the rest of the park and its main trail.

While many residents and Rouge supporters praised the boardwalk, others felt it would harm the marsh’s delicate ecology or be damaged by flooding.

By email, Simpson said a team continues to review public input on the project.

“Once this review is completed and a decision is made, Parks Canada will communicate this information and release a report summarizing public feedback.”



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