Unlucky seven pools to be drained including Oakwood, Danforth
Another 13 swim facilities could also close by Dec 2009
By Kris Scheuer
(Originally written July 17 for Town Crier)
With 20 school pools saved and seven shut for good, swim advocates are focusing on doing CPR on 13 facilities in danger of drowning.
The fate of pools at Danforth CI, Oakwood CI, Parkdale CI, Bickford Centre, Central Commerce, Bloor CI and Western Tech’s Ursula Franklin aresealed. The Toronto District School Board voted to drain them, which will save $1.1 million in operating costs. The aquatic working group, headed by former mayor David Crombie, is now turning their efforts to 13 pools on a conditional list including Monarch Park, Queen Alexandra PS, Jarvis CI and Downsview SS. All will stay open until the end of August. However, water will remain in these facilities until Dec. 31 to allow time to generate sufficient revenue to remain open.
“We are in this for all 13 pools,” Crombie said at a July 16 aquatic working group meeting.
They need to secure about $762,692 to cover the incremental operating costs of running those 13 pools. But the group is looking to tackle this challenge in bite-size chunks.
“If we have two wins by the end of August that’s terrific stuff,” Crombie said.
The current plan is to save at least two more pools by mobilizing the community. The idea is to see if there’s interest in swimmers using one of the pools in danger and then finding a sponsor, donor, or swim club willing to finance a swim program at that facility.
|The Toronto Community Foundation has also set up a charitable Toronto Swim Fund for anyone who wants to donate cash and get a tax receipt. The money will then pay for swim programs in school pools.
Karen Pitre, a consultant with Toronto Lands Corporation, explained there is also some good news when it comes to fixing up any pool that is saved.
The province has committed almost $16 million in capital dollars to fix up 32 pools that the TDSB votes to keep open.
“We are starting with the first five this summer,” she said.
Those are Harbord CI, Riverdale CI, Keele PS, Stephen Leacock CI and Northern SS.
There will be a schedule for 13 pools after that. Two pools on the list will not get capital funds: North Toronto CI, because the school is being reconstructed and will not have a pool in another year, and West Toronto, as the school itself is under review to close.
In any event, any pool receiving capital money from the province must have work completed by March 2011, Pitre said.
“The province has said once these capital repairs are done, at a minimum (these pools) are staying open for eight years,” Pitre said. “That’s good news, but we want to make sure they are bullet-proof and we have the (operating) money to do that.”
The aquatic working group plans to meet again Aug. 20 and update the status of pools still in danger. Crombie and Pitre will write a progress report for the school board’s upcoming meeting when the fate of the remaining pools could be decided.