Today Fri Sat
It is forecast to be Chance of a Thunderstorm at 11:00 PM EDT on August 21, 2014
Chance of a Thunderstorm
It is forecast to be Mostly Cloudy at 11:00 PM EDT on August 22, 2014
Mostly Cloudy
It is forecast to be Partly Cloudy at 11:00 PM EDT on August 23, 2014
Partly Cloudy



Toronto Shore Fishermen Lose a Downtown Spot

Harbourfront Centre security guards are keeping people from fishing along 10 acres of waterfront property.

David Clark stands at the spot where he was accosted for fishing.

Harbourfront Centre is telling people who fish on Harbourfront property along the Lake Ontario shoreline to reel in their lines, pack up their rods, and get moving.

That’s what happened to David Clark, a restauranteur and licensed recreational fisherman who was stopped by Harbourfront security guards while fishing from the shoreline at the foot of Harbourfront Centre’s Music Garden near Lower Spadina and Queens Quay on March 18. He was confused; he’d been fishing in that exact spot for several years with no problems, although he’d heard about people getting kicked off the property for fishing last fall.

“I wasn’t bothering the people on the sidewalk,” says Clark. “I wasn’t bothering a boat in the marina or a boat driving by. I was just fishing, and doing my own thing without hurting anybody.”

He was even more confused when the security guards pulled out a Toronto Port Authority rule book and pointed to a bylaw that states that it’s not legal to fish anywhere on the shoreline, except where there is a sign explicitly stating otherwise. That would seem to make it against the law to fish anywhere within the TPA’s jurisdiction, which spans Toronto’s entire waterfront, with the exception of the Leslie Street Spit.

Clark says the security guards removed several other fishermen from the site as well. He asked to talk to police, and was told that if he didn’t leave immediately, he would be charged with trespassing and fined $2,000. Eventually, police arrived and defused the situation.

But according to Port Authority Harbour Master Angus Armstrong, the Authority’s rules are only meant to govern the land it controls, such as the outer-harbour marina and the island airport, all of which is off-limits to public recreation anyway.

Deputy Harbour Master Michael Riehl adds that, while Harbourfront Centre is private property and therefore subject to the rules of its management, Harbourfront had no business using the Port Authority’s bylaws. “If they want to enforce no fishing on their property, then they can’t blame us,” he says. “They have to blame themselves.”

Riehl says Harbourfront still isn’t going to allow fishing on its property, but will cite its own rules from now on. He says a similar issue occurred at Ontario Place this spring.

Harbourfront Centre controls 10 acres of waterfront property, including the shoreline stretching west from York Street to Marina Quay West, just west of Lower Spadina Avenue. Fishing isn’t banned everywhere: it’s allowed in areas under the jurisdiction of Toronto’s Parks, Forestry, and Recreation division (except where signs specifically forbid it), which includes the Toronto Islands.

Still, Clark isn’t thrilled about losing a prime central fishing spot. “It costs an awful lot to live in downtown Toronto, to pay for a mortgage or to pay for rent in an apartment,” he says. “Not a lot of people can afford a cottage as well… so for a lot of people, fishing in downtown Toronto makes sense.”

Photo by Brendan Ross/Torontoist.


  • David Pylyp

    When did fishing along the Toronto waterfront and shoreline become such a dynamic issue? Are you stealing someone’s fish? What is the logic of their (surf and) turf war?

    David Pylyp
    Is fishing along Humber Bay Shore allowed?

    • Anonymous

      It has nothing to do with the fish and everything to do with the supremacy of property rights over common sense.

  • Fisheater

    I hope David Clark isn’t using Toronto Harbour Fish at his restaurant.

    • Andreas Duess

      The fish from Lake Ontario is just as clean as fish caught up north. The myth that Lake Ontario is somehow still as polluted as it was 30 years ago just won’t die.

    • Anonymous

      The majority of Toronto’s beaches have had the highest international rating for water quality for a few years now. If the water’s safe to swim in, why wouldn’t gutted and cooked fish be safe to eat?

    • Anonymous

      Be sure to get the Special.

  • Anonymous

    First of all, remarkable but perhaps not surprising that the Harbourfront rent-a-cops are citing the wrong regulations. Next, in Ontario, owners of private waterfront property do seem to be allowed to deny access to the public, but it would seem foolish for Harbourfront Centre, which is a charity, to do so. It’s also sloppy on Harbourfront’s part not to post signs. Considering that their rent-a-cops are walking around with the wrong rule book, perhaps management is not aware of the relevant laws? I note that Adam Vaughan and a couple of other councillors are on the Harbourfront Centre board of directors. Perhaps he and his fellow upstanding citizens on the board ought to explain the Centre’s position here. My sneaking suspicion is legal liability might be at issue.

  • Anonymous

    The land is owned by Harbourfront Centre, but I don’t think they own the water… which presumably means you can fish from a boat right by the land.

  • Anonymous

    Is he the Big Fat Burrito guy?

    • Margarets


  • Anonymous

    Just another way to make Toronto more mundane. Thanks Harbourfront, now we can continues to enjoy your water-down prefab ‘culture.’

  • Hud

    Facism. People can fish off the Harbourfront if they want. Lake Ontario belongs to the people. Boycott Harbourfront Centre. Aren’t they tax payer funded anyway?

  • Anonymous

    the only thing that should have been communicated is that while on Harbourfront Centre property fishing is prohibited. Many reasons can account for this, safety is one of them. The Port Authority did not even need to be mentioned.

    • Bluegreenblogger

      lmfao…. I can see how an extreme sport like angling should be prohibited. Good call stunned, safety first! While they are at it, they should prohibit walking. I bet hundreds of people get hurt walking. Those cold benches too, think of all the festering hemorrhoid’s created by excessive sitting on cold benches. Safety first! Lose the benches…