Toronto Island Community Facts
Islanders are Homeowners With Limited Rights

  • Island residents own their homes and lease the publicly owned lots from the Toronto Island Land Trust, which administers the provincial legislation called The Toronto Island Residential Stewardship Act (as amended, 1996)
  • Islanders paid $36,000 and $46,000 for their lot leases, which run until 2092.
  • The purchase and sale of the homes are strictly regulated to prevent speculation and windfall profits on public land.
  • Island homeowners may not bequeath or otherwise pass on their homes to anyone other than spouses and children. If homes are not passed on to spouses or children Islanders cannot chose to whom they will sell their homes. Sales are regulated by the Island Trust, which oversees a public list whereby buyer and seller do not meet.


The Island Is a Year-Round Community

  • One of the principles that Islanders wanted entrenched when the legislation was developed was that the Island remain a year-round community.
  • Under the signed lease Islanders are required to occupy their homes for a minimum of 220 days per year and must designate them as their principal residences.
  • The legislation does not forbid Island residents from owning real estate off the Island.
  • As with other governing bodies, the Trust has in place policies to address residency as well as its other mandates.
  • 67% of the adult population has lived on the Island for 20 years or more.
  • 37% of the adult population has lived on the Island for 35 years or more.
  • Even before the legislation, the vast majority of Islanders were year-round residents whose only home was on the Island.


The Island Has Always Accommodated Residential and Recreational Uses

  • The existing residential communities of Ward's and Algonquin Islands have never been parkland.
  • Ward's Island is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Toronto and began as a fishing community in the 1830s. Algonquin Island was created largely with dredged sand from the Toronto Harbour and was first settled with relocated houses when the Island airport was constructed. Further settlement occurred after WWII when returning veterans were encouraged to lease lots and build houses. Descendants of some of those original Islanders still live on the Island. At its peak in the late 1940s to early 1950s, the summer population reached 8,000 and the year-round community over 2,000.
  • Residents have always held valid leases except for the period when the matter was before the courts due to Metro's attempt to expropriate Island houses without compensation. Islanders continued to pay property taxes and live in their homes full time during that period.
  • Historically the Island has always accommodated both residential and recreational uses and was even more a tourist destination when housing was spread over the entire Island.
  • The Island community occupies only 4% (33 acres) of the entire area of the Toronto Islands (825 acres).
  • Over 1,225,000 people visit the Island every year to enjoy everything from family or company picnics to the rides in Centreville. The Island community itself is a popular tourist destination and a welcome respite for everyone from the concrete, highrises and fast-pace of the city.
  • The public is always welcome to visit the community and, indeed, many find it the highlight of their Island outings. Two cafés are run under community auspices for the enjoyment of both residents and visitors. One, the Rectory Café, is the only food facility open in the winter on Toronto Islands.


The Place:
  • community area 33 acres
  • total area of Toronto Islands 825 acres
  • area of Island Parklands 576 acres
  • area of Island Airport 213 acres


Islanders Pay Their Own Way

  • Islanders have always paid property taxes on their homes and are taxed at the same mill rate as city homeowners.
  • When they signed their leases, Island householders paid $4,850 each towards the cost of the 1982 installation of the sewer infrastructure.
  • Since the proclamation of the Act, the Trust has remitted over $9.2 million in lease revenues to the City.
  • The City will continue to collect revenues over the 99-year lease period, as it receives a portion of the proceeds from every lease resale (currently about $6,000 per sale).
  • The Island Trust is entirely self-financing and operates debt and deficit free; 65% of the Trust's income is paid directly by an annual levy charged to each Island leaseholder. The rest of the budget is made up from rental income collected on Trust buildings and administrative fees.
  • There are no operational subsidies from any level of government to the Trust or the community.
  • Island community and recreation centres are self-supporting, are open to the public on a membership and rental basis and operate without City funding.
  • An Island family of four is likely to pay in excess of $3,500 each a year in ferry fees.
  • The Island ferry service generates a profit for the City.
  • Police service is limited to support from the Marine Unit on the mainland, which covers the entire waterfront.
  • Fire and police services support the residential Natural Science and Day School, the Island Filtration Plant, the Royal Canadian Yacht Club, the Island Yacht Club, the Queen City Yacht Club, the Toronto Island Marina, Gibraltar Point Centre for the Arts, all park facilities and backup to the Island Airport as well as the Island community.


A family-oriented community with many young and older adults:

  • 262 homes
  • over 600 people
  • 200 children
  • 18% of adults are seniors


According to the 1996 census report:

  • 10% of households are low income
  • 17% of households make over $80,000.
  • the average household income is below that of the larger city ($50,448 vs. $60,110)


The Trust:

  • corporation established by the Province under the Toronto Islands Residential Community Stewardship Act;
  • entirely self-financing from lease revenues, levies and administrative charges;
  • duties include managing the lands and buildings for benefit of Island community and the public;
  • responsible for collecting and distributing lease revenues to the City;
  • responsible for the sales of Island homes to the members of the Trust's Purchasers' List;
  • an average of 2-3 houses sell each year;
  • six-member board appointed by the Province; two members are elected from the community.

TICA Newsletter
Toronto Island Community Association
publishes the "TICA Talk Newsletter".