Toronto Islands reopen to the public this weekend as ferry service resumes
Just in time for what's expected to be a blazing hot pre-holiday weekend, the City of Toronto is at long last resuming public ferry service to the Toronto Islands.
Mayor John Tory announced the news Wednesday morning at Jack Layton Ferry Terminal, proclaiming that residents and visitors alike could once again enjoy the beloved summertime hot spot as of this Saturday, June 27.
Things will undoubtedly be quite a bit different, however, amid a pandemic that has so far killed 1,052 Torontonians: Don't expect to cram into the boats as you would have in previous years, and know that ferry tickets will be harder to come by than ever before.
Per COVID-19 orders implemented by Transport Canada in March, the ferries will all operate at 50 per cent maximum capacity until further notice.
Only 5,000 tickets for the ferry service will be sold per day in order to allow for physical distancing and all must be purchased online. The city advises visitors to purchase their tickets ahead of time and travel during non-peak hours if possible.
All ferry passengers will furthermore be required to wear non-medical masks or face coverings and are asked to self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms ahead of the journey.
Toronto Islands reopen starting Saturday.— The Waterfront BIA (@WaterfrontBIA) June 24, 2020
Announcement this morning by Mayor Tory, Councillors Joe Cressy and James Pasternak. pic.twitter.com/7tJShe4iNx
"Enhanced cleaning and disinfecting will be undertaken on the vessels after every trip," wrote the city in a release announcing the news this morning.
"Washrooms on the ferries will be closed, however, hand sanitizer dispensers will be available. Washrooms at the terminal and at Toronto Island Park will be open."
Now that Toronto has finally moved into Stage 2 of the province's economic reopening process, a number of previously-shuttered services and amenities will reopen at Toronto Island Park when ferry service resumes: Splash pads, Franklin Gardens, William Meany Maze, a first aid station, disc golf and select food and beverage outlets among them.
Park playgrounds, boat rentals and commercial amenities on the island such as Centreville will remain closed under the province's current emergency orders.
This Saturday ferries reopen to the Toronto Islands, alongside new rigorous public health measures including mandatory mask use & reduced capacity to enable physical distancing.— Joe Cressy (@joe_cressy) June 24, 2020
Book tickets online in advance and come out and enjoy the Islands. pic.twitter.com/Q3MUL3iDu4
While they were never technically "closed," public ferry service to the islands has been halted since March due to public health concerns, leaving everyone but residents of Ward's Island without an affordable (or Island resident-approved) way to get over.
On Monday, after the city issued a news release stating that all four of the Toronto Island Park beaches would reopen for swimming on July 1, Tory alluded to the fact that ferry service would resume "soon."
Given that the city had previously stated the Island beaches would only reopen for swimming "following the resumption of ferry service," some were predicting that ferries would start running again on Canada Day.
News that service would resume this weekend surely then came as a pleasant surprise to many (island residents notwithstanding.)
"I am pleased to be able to reopen public ferry services to the Toronto Island Park so that residents and visitors can once again enjoy this beloved part of our city," said Tory on Wednesday morning when announcing the news.
"This journey is an important Toronto tradition, with the ferries annually providing trips to over a million people a year. I encourage people to head to the island, and enjoy the ferry experience safely and patiently as demand will be high and the ferry capacity is much lower due to COVID-19 precautions."
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