toronto islands bridge

There's new momentum to build a pedestrian and cycling bridge to the Toronto Islands

The Toronto Islands have been a busier attraction than ever post-lockdown, with hours-long lineups for water taxis snaking around the entire harbourfront last summer and the ferry terminal often devolving into an absolutely packed mess this year.

With really only two main ways for most people to get across the water — not everyone is willing to kayak or otherwise paddle, and hardly anyone has the luxury of access to a private boat — a trip to Ward's Island, Centre Island or Hanlan's Point can seem like a frustrating (and even dangerous) mission that takes some luck and good timing to go smoothly.

But, there has long been interest in a third option: a bridge.

With the Toronto municipal election coming up next month, one candidate for a seat at city council has revived the argument for a pedestrian and cycle bridge to the islands, which has the largest public park in its ward.

April Engelberg, who would like to represent Ward 10 Spadina — Fort York, broke down in a series of tweets how the bridge would work, spanning 250 across the Eastern Channel from the Port Lands to Ward's Island.

A lift bridge design would be most suitable to permit watercraft to get through.

"Our ferry system is slow, expensive and outdated. We could bike to the Island in less time than it takes to wait for a ferry!" Egelberg pointed out on Twitter on Tuesday.

And, the point is garnering a ton of support on the platform.

"This is a good idea. Especially with the portlands development likely to increase the use and usefulness of that area," one resident said.

"An idea so good, it should have been done in the '80s (we seem to have a lot of those around Toronto)," another added.

One mayoral candidate also expressed interest in seeing it happen.

A few have their doubts, though, with at least one resident wondering about the environmental sensitivity of the point of the islands the bridge would touch and what an uptick in foot traffic would mean for the property.

Still, with many workarounds to this and other concerns — one person even suggested a gondola connection instead — the idea is still feasible, and seems to be something that a lot of residents are interested in the city looking into further, as demand for access to green space, as well as better cycling and pedestrian infrastructure grows.

Lead photo by

George Hornaday

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