Swim class at Frankland Community School in Riverdale is more than just the favourite day of the week for seven-year-old Tarquinius Manning.
“The public pools and school pools have been an outlet for my son to develop socially,” parent Janine Manning says.
Now they are worried the Frankland pool may be one of several at risk of closing.
Thirty-one Toronto School board pools are under lease agreements with the City of Toronto that are to expire in June. A few of these pools could close due to budget cuts, said Ryan Bird, communications officer with the Toronto District School board.
Pools at S.H. Armstrong Community Centre, Duke of Connaught Public and Senior Public School, and two other sites were named, but a full list has not yet been released.
According to Manning, her son was shy and had difficulties socializing with other children until he began swimming at the Frankland pool.
“He hasn’t taken any interest in any other sport — I would be alarmed if that outlet got taken away from him,” Manning said. “I just feel like it has been a sport that has allowed him to independently gain some confidence and be part of a team.”
Olympic gold medal swimmer Penny Oleksiak tweeted on Jan. 10 in support of saving Toronto school board pools at risk of closing.
— Penny Oleksiak (@OleksiakPenny) January 10, 2017
Mayor John Tory responded hours later to Oleksiak’s tweet, showing his support in finding the money to save those pools, and reiterated in a press conference on Jan. 11 he would ensure there was funding for the three pools that were named on the list.
— John Tory (@JohnTory) January 11, 2017
“I don’t know if it’s a change of heart or a PR move,” Manning said. “He quite frankly wasn’t interested in finding an alternative before he got called out on social media by such a prominent person in Canadian society in the sporting world.”
According to Bird, the Toronto school board hopes city council will decide to maintain the agreements that are up for renewal.
“I think it’s important people know,” Manning said.
Parents and others should attend the public meetings being held in February and speak up about budget decisions being made, she said.