Meadowcliffe resident Susan Scinocca shows the extent of cliff erosion where a tree used to stand.

Erosion threatens Scarborough Bluffs properties

Control project aims to protect Meadowcliffe shoreline

A majestic view lined by cliffs, beaches and a waterfront.

It is not often how Scarborough is described, but it could be if the city’s hidden gem is preserved from erosion.

The Scarborough Bluffs form the shore for most of the Scarborough waterfront. The bluffs have suffered through decades of erosion. Due to this, infrastructure and property along the shoreline are threatened.

The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) is scheduled to complete the Meadowcliffe Drive Erosion Control Project by July of this year. The project started in 2011 and aims to prevent further erosion on the Meadowcliffe shoreline.

“It’s providing erosion protection to 10 properties on Meadowcliffe Drive,” said Mark Preston, senior construction supervisor at TRCA.

“The east end of Meadowcliffe Drive is an Ontario Heritage property,” Preston said. “All the properties there would be at risk otherwise.”

The erosion on the Bluffs is caused mostly by wave action from the lake. As waves hit the bottom shoreline they slowly chisel away the bottom of the cliff. The top of the cliff weakens and falls into the lake. This damage had been going on until the TRCA decided to start protection projects.

“This is the latest project undertaken along the Scarborough waterfront,” Preston said. “The authority has commenced erosion control projects since the mid ’80s, so there’s a number of sectors completed.”

The projects start at the East Bellamy ravine and continue to Morningside Avenue. Erosion on the Meadowcliffe shoreline began to accelerate in 2006, prompting Meadowcliffe residents to implore the TRCA to find a solution.

As the TRCA’s main goal is to preserve the properties along the shore, one resident of Meadowcliffe believes the value of the Bluffs is overlooked.

“It’s absolutely beautiful,” Meadowcliffe Drive resident Susan Scinocca said. “It’s the littlest known feature in the city. There’s so much potential for a bike path, walking trails. To not take advantage of that is ridiculous.”

Scinocca recalls the rate of erosion from when she first bought her property 15 years ago to now.

“We had a tree taken down,” Scinocca said. “It was so close to the edge that as it swayed it was doing damage to the cliff so the TRCA had us take it down. Since we’ve moved in we’ve lost about a foot a year.”

I really don’t understand why the Bluffs aren’t promoted. It’s geologically very significant and it’s very unique in the world.

—Susan Scinocca

As she pointed to the remaining tree stump, Scinocca said  it was not long ago when they could drive a lawnmower around it. Today, the stump rests at the edge of the cliff.

In response to the growing concern from Meadowcliffe residents, the TRCA is constructing cobblestone barriers to absorb wave damage.

“Through analysis by coastal engineers, we’ve determined the size and design of the structures,” Preston said. “The design is looking at a long-term stable slope on the edge of the cliff.”

TRCA is designing the headland beach system so that the cliffs slope downward towards the beach. This will allow vegetation to form on the slope thereby strengthening the cliffs.

The project is expected to be completed by July and will provide the much needed protection for Meadowcliffe Drive.

“It’s the most pure piece of land,” Scinocca said. “Scarborough gets such a bad rap. I really don’t understand why the Bluffs aren’t promoted. It’s geologically very significant and it’s very unique in the world.”