A scummy summer? After months without Woodbine Park fountains, residents speak out

Click to play video: 'Faulty Toronto park pond pump leads to major rise in algae'
Faulty Toronto park pond pump leads to major rise in algae
WATCH: A malfunctioning park pump has resulted in a major algae bloom at Woodbine Park in Toronto. A solution and repair are on the way, but not before area residents have noticed a drop in local wildlife – Jul 24, 2023

Who wouldn’t want to sit by a pond in quiet contemplation, overlooking an abundance of pond scum?

It may not sound very appealing, but residents who use the east end say that’s the result of months without a fountain at their local pond.

Woodbine Park has splash pads, playgrounds and trails surrounding two small ponds. Both water features are artificial, following the redevelopment of the former Greenwood Racetrack.

For months, the fountains at the centre of the biggest pond, which usually spew enough water to aerate the water, have been shut off due to a faulty pump. Without any natural water flow from creeks or underground springs, there has been a massive algae bloom.

Many daily parkgoers and local residents have been upset to see the scummy results, including Annie Anderson, who cycles through the park on her daily commute to work.

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“It wasn’t long ago that you could actually see almost right through to the bottom and see all the fish and there was all this wildlife,” she said.

Annie Anderson is a big fan of the park and the wildlife the pond usually attracts. But she’s noticed many birds have vacated the pond since the scum appeared. Matthew Bingley/Global News

Anderson said she’s also noticed a lack of waterfowl that usually roost in the area, like ducks and swans. “It was really beautiful and is so important to have those kind of spaces in the city,” she said.

She’s not alone in noticing the lack of wildlife.

Anthony Bonner lives in the area and walks the park often, but hasn’t been seeing a pair of swans that usually nest in the area.

“It attracts people, it attracts wildlife, now it’s just attracting algae,” Bonner said. He blames the lack of working fountains for the unwanted algae bloom and was hoping the city would fix them soon.

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Beaches-East York city councillor Brad Bradford said the city has been working to do just that. He’s been hearing complaints about the park since people noticed the fountains weren’t on in early June.

The faulty fountain parts needed to be sourced from a company in Sweden, increasing the timeline for repairs. Matthew Bingley/Global News

“These things often take longer than they ought to,” Bradford said, noting the parts for the fountain had to be sourced in Sweden.

“I appreciate the frustration of the community because I’m frustrated with it too,” Bradford said. “The good news is for the most part this has been resolved.”

Ashika Theyyil from Toronto’s media relations division said city staff drained the pond to repair the geyser feature of the fountain. But it takes several days to both drain and fill the pond, so the fountain will take longer to turn on.

“Once the pond is filled, the geyser feature will be activated,” said Theyyil. “Once this feature is operational, the pond will have movement and oxygenation, which should resolve any algae issues naturally.”

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But Theyyil said more work on the fountain will be necessary, specifically with the side “v-jets.”

“Staff have removed the v-jet pump that controls the perimeter nozzles and sent the pump to a specialized vendor for repair and replacement parts as needed,” they said.

Once the pump is repaired and returned, staff will undertake efforts to install it.

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