Residents of an Etobicoke apartment building say they want their property management to step in and fix their back parking lot, which is slowly crumbling into Lake Ontario.
Monika Bodiova has lived in the building at 245 Lake Shore Drive, near Lake Shore Boulevard West and Kipling Avenue, for four years. In 2017, she says big waves from a massive storm washed away a grassy patch outside the lot.
Since then, she says, it’s become worse and worse.
“I have kids, I’m using the pathway to come out from the garage,” she said. “It’s dangerous for us.”
The city and the federal government did announce $30 million in funds to address shoreline erosion Monday, but according to the Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) — the body that monitors and manages erosion risk in the area — the money will be used to address public trails and parks also hit by the 2017 storm, which present a greater public safety risk.
“At the end of the day, it is a private property issue,” said Moranne McDonnell, director of restoration and infrastructure with the TRCA.
Northview REIT took over management of the building in December 2018, and in an email, a spokesperson for the company said, “While we were cognizant of potential erosion issues at 245 Lakeshore Drive at the time of our acquisition last December, it was determined that no urgent action was necessary.”
The spokesperson said they’re continuing to investigate, and they would update residents if they decided to move forward with any additional actions.
Northview REIT would not elaborate any further on that emailed statement, but CBC Toronto has learned there may be another reason why the company hasn’t yet addressed the situation.
An investigation by the city and TRCA following the 2017 storm found part of the parking lot was built on former shoreline — provincial Crown land — without authorization to do so.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) said they became aware of the situation in September 2018 after receiving a work permit for the site.
“MNRF contacted the property management company for the parking lot/apartment building to discuss the situation and work with them on bringing the occupation into compliance. Management of this private property changed earlier this year and MNRF is now working with them on this issue.”
Still, once those permissions are granted, it’s unclear if the current property management plans to fix the site.
McDonnell says the TRCA has been in touch with Northview REIT to try to help them work towards an erosion control plan.
“The erosion is quite significant,” McDonnell said.
“If it’s left unaddressed we would expect that they would lose additional parts of the parking lot because the area is quite steep, so over time just with rain events and gravity we would expect that that sloped section would start to recede back and flatten out.”
McDonnell says there isn’t an urgent risk right now, but any delay of action could mean a loss of land area and of usable space for residents.
“We have a program at TRCA to assist, but it is based on a priority basis and it is limited funding and there are a number of conditions for us to apply public funding towards private property issues.”
If they do step in, McDonnell says they’ll usually work out a deal where the organization will build a structure to protect the waterfront in exchange for the portion of land where the work is located.
Protecting against future erosion
Apart from the Etobicoke apartment building, the TRCA is keeping an eye on more than 500 private locations within their jurisdiction for potential risks, but the need for work greatly outweighs the non-profit’s funding, McDonnell said.
The 2017 storm alone caused $15 million in structural damage along the waterfront to things like large rocks protecting beaches and lost sand and stone material.
The new government funds announced Monday will go towards repairing and protecting those spaces, such as Ashbridges Bay, Humber Bay Park and the Scarborough Bluffs.
“This is climate change adaptation. We know that the old water level that we were using as our design elevation is not sufficient anymore for higher lake levels, so we can expect that this will happen again and we’re preparing for that,” McDonnell said.
Where the parking lot is concerned, McDonnell says she’s unsure when the situation will become worse.
“We’re really at the mercy of mother nature,” she said.
Meanwhile, residents like Bodiova say they hope their new management will eventually take action.
“It’s a concern,” Bodiova said. “They should come out and do something, finally.”