An eerie silence at Centreville

TORONTO - No swan rides on the water, trips on the cool mini-train, cotton candy or smiles on kids’ faces.



Welcome to Centreville 2017.

Normally, on the Canada Day long weekend, all of the above would be the story. But thanks to the flooding which has hit the islands, this is not a normal year.

It was supposed to be Centreville Amusement Park’s 50th anniversary.

Instead on the first weekend in July — when they normally enjoy tens of thousands of visitors — the place is a ghost town.

The old town hall, the rides and the restaurants are all there. But they are all empty.

A month ago, when I was there with photographer Stan Behal, parts the park were flooded to such a level that park benches and picnic tables looked like they were in the middle of the lake.

Even though there were no people, it did not seem as lonely.

The animals which were part of an attraction — sheep, alpacas, pigs, peacocks, cows and roosters to name a few — were very much there.

The sounds of a farm were not dampened by high lake levels and all of the rain.

Even the carp had moved in and could be heard swirling about.

But on Monday, there was only an eerie silence.

The animals have been moved to a farm north of Toronto and the 400 seasonal staff have not been called to work.

Still, unlike a month ago, the water levels have receded. And while there are still parts of the park under a bit of water, Centreville looks like it could soon be ready to open.

The question remains can the ferries safely get into the Centreville dock and are the emergency personal ready to handle an influx of people.

Mayor John Tory and city councillors will soon turn their gaze to the tourist attraction.

“There is a staff report on the agenda for council consideration at the meeting which begins (Tuesday),” said city spokesperson Wynna Brown.

It’s not lost on anybody how difficult this weather year has been on the concession holders like Centreville — a business owned by the Beasley family.

“We recognize that the high lake levels and associated flooding have had a significant impact on both Island residents and businesses,” said Brown. “The report from staff is seeking authorization to suspend the collection of rent or licence fees from Toronto Island Park tenants or licensees, as deemed appropriate by the general manager until the park is reopened. The proposed suspension applies to rent or licence fees payable to the city.”

Hopefully things will change for the better, but with this crazy weather, it is hard to say.

“Staff continue to monitor and assess conditions on the islands closely and will make operating decisions as conditions dictate. We expect to have a further update next week,” added Brown. “Staff is beginning to plan for the re-opening of certain sections of Toronto Island Park, though it is likely that some portions of the park will remain closed to the public for the entire summer of 2017.”

Hopefully, Centreville will be one of the places allowed to open so it can be filled with the sounds of laughter and happiness once again.

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