Community rally saves school pools

Nine Toronto District School Board pools will remain open thanks to some dogged determination from the communities in which they reside.

TDSB trustees voted unanimously on Tuesday to adopt a plan to save nine pools which had been on a “probation” list, their futures seriously threatened since April 2009.

The proposal was put forth by the Aquatics Working Group, a committee charged with saving pools whose futures looked doubtful.

Heidi Wilson, 42, is a committee member of “Let’s Make Waves”, the community organization which has rallied for about 20 months in an effort to save the pools.

“This has been a long, long hard effort. We’re happy because they’re keeping the 32 pools open – but we’re more happy that there’s this new governance model that will help direct and guide the elected officials moving forward,” a visibly emotional Wilson  said after Tuesday’s result.

The pools will likely be managed by the Toronto Lands Corporation, pending the results of a report expected no later than March 31.

According to Wilson, the decision sends an important message about the health and wellbeing of children in Toronto.

“Any kind of recreation activity provides kids with an outlet to engage and stay active,” she said. “Healthy bodies, healthy minds.”

The board announced in April 2009 that it planned on closing 39 of its 79 pools, citing budget shortfalls.

While seven of those pools were deemed financially unmanageable and have since been shuttered for good, the remaining 32 pools will be spared the chopping block after Tuesday’s official decision.

And it doesn’t take an adult to recognize the importance of Toronto’s school pools.

For Colin Goad, a grade 8 student on the swim team at Winona Drive Sr. P.S., the saving of his school’s pool ensures that the team will have a home for the foreseeable future.

“It’s hard to kind of get the community working together because it’s (a two year school), but I’ve been amazed by the amount of people who have helped,” said Goad.

Trustee John Campbell (Ward 2–Etobicoke Centre) noted the impact of the community groups throughout the process.

“When you see the activism, it’s just remarkable.. I never would have guessed that we would be opening all but seven of these pools,” he said during the meeting.

Bruce Davis (Ward 3-Etobicoke Lakeshore) echoed Campbell’s sentiment.

“When we thought we should take the softer line, they pushed us hard,” he said during the meeting.

“For the school board, I think everyone in that room is moved. The work has been done by the local communities, the local parents, the neighbours. And when they do that, you can’t help but respond,” he added later.

Pools saved:

  • Carleton Village Jr. & Sr. PS
  • Central Technical School
  • Earl Grey Sr. PS
  • George Harvey CI
  • Kensington CS Jr./Horizon Alt. Sr.
  • Monarch Park CI
  • SATEC @ WA Porter CI
  • Western Tech. CS/Ursula Franklin Academy
  • Winona Drive Sr. PS

One comment:

  1. That’s the best article I’ve seen on this, thanks. My daughter had told me that their pool was saved, now if only someone could make up the lost half-year of pool time. Actually it will be more than half a school year by the time they hire the swim instructors (if they can get them now).
    That is something that most people don’t realize, that you can’t just say “open again” and presto! Once you throw a monkey wrench into the works, as the Board did, you make a mess.

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