Councillor Josh Matlow

Toronto Star: School pools in need of a lifeline?

November 29, 2011


A city proposal to cut programming at seven school pools “is simply pouncing on people with no public discussion,” says David Crombie.


The former mayor, who now heads the Toronto District School Board’s real estate corporation, plans to deliver a letter to city council and Mayor Rob Ford on the subject Thursday.


Crombie said news of the possible cutbacks to the unnamed pools comes amid ongoing discussions with the city about future plans for the pools it leases from the board.


“We are some hurt by this process,” he said, calling it an “abrupt rupture” of current efforts.


The proposal suggests saving almost a million dollars “as a result of eliminating the city’s programs in seven of 33 Toronto District School Board owned pools” and axing the equivalent of 3.3 positions.


“The TDSB pools were selected based on low annual visits and high relative costs per visit, as well as the provision of other indoor swim opportunities in the ward or within a close geographic proximity,” the proposal says.


Shirley Hoy, chief executive officer of the school board’s Toronto Lands Corp., said there must be “full and meaningful discussion with the community” before any pool is closed.


Such as process was followed by the school board and in the end, the community supported closing eight pools, she added. In the meantime, the board has also seen permit revenues from its pools triple, to over $1 million a year.


Councillor Josh Matlow, a former school board trustee, said that if approved, the cutbacks to pools — as well as programs in 12 school-based community centres — could be devastating.


The school board says it is too early to say what the impact could be. However, the move “feels like downloading,” said spokesperson Shari Schwartz-Maltz.


The City of Toronto covers the full $6 million cost for 33 of the board’s school pools.


City staff refused Tuesday, for a second straight day, to reveal which pools and recreation programs are on the chopping block, as well as which wading pools and outdoor pools could close.


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