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City to run half of school pools


Well-Known TRIBEr
City to run half of school pools
Exact number to be rescued in tentative deal still unknown
Move will see revenues flow to city after next school year


After months of rocky negotiation, the City of Toronto has reached a tentative deal to take over at least half the city's 84 school pools, with the school board agreeing to run a further 18.

But the deal still leaves at least 14 pools facing closing this fall because no private operator has offered to bail them out, said Toronto District School Board supervisor Paul Christie.

Moreover, sources fear the number of pools closing could rise as high as 24, depending on exactly how many the city ends up running when the details are ironed out — a number Christie pegged at "between 40 and 50."

The deal was reached yesterday at 8 a.m. between Christie, who controls the board's purse strings, and a committee of city staff and councillors.

A detailed list of which pools will be saved will be hammered out in the days to come, he said, and the deal must go to a city council meeting July 22 for approval.

"I'm delighted we have reached a deal with the city, and we'll be keeping another 18 pools open at schools where the gyms alone can't satisfy the curriculum requirements," said Christie during public hearings yesterday into the board's upcoming budget.

But he admitted a recent $40,000 search by the consulting firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers for private operators to lease school pools — a plan controversial with pool defenders — came up dry.

"They were looking for third parties who would be interested in leasing significant blocks of time in about 14 pools, but the interest (from the private sector) just hasn't been great," said Christie, who acknowledged those pools will close by September without a private sector rescue.

"There are also a few pools we really wouldn't want to keep open, either — either because they're dogs and too costly to repair, or because they're underutilized, say like the one in the Central Adult Learning Centre that serves only part-time students."

Christie also said schools with two pools, such as Central Technical School, might have one closed, leaving it unclear exactly how many more than 14 face drydock this fall.

"But hey, we're still open to bids from entrepreneurs who might be interested."

Ontario's new school funding formula will not pay for maintaining school pools.

That has posed a particular problem for Toronto, which had built pools into schools in many of the city's most needy neighbourhoods.

The board currently spends $10 million a year to run pools used more than 1 million times a year by residents, from tots to seniors, who pay for pool time after school hours, as well as 28,000 students during the school day.

In offering to throw the pools a lifeline, the city stood firm on one condition: that the school board not raise fees for any city department's use of school facilities during the life of the agreement, expected to run until the end of 2004, with a possible extension to 2006.

That clause had hit rough waters in late May, when Christie floated the idea of charging parking fees at schools.

City officials warned that move could break the deal.

But yesterday, Christie said he agreed not to charge parking fees at any school where the city runs recreational programs.

About 45 per cent of the city's swimming programs are run through school pools.

"It was tough negotiating," said Councillor David Shiner, the city's budget chief.

"We felt it was very unfair that people should pay for programs, the city should be renting space, to only have an additional charge for parking."

Under the new deal, the board will continue to collect permit fees for after-hour use of the school pools this coming school year, after which those fees will go to city coffers.

But the city will be responsible for hiring lifeguards and swim instructors rather than the school board, said Christie.

"The sad thing is, there are going to be a lot fewer kids learning to swim this fall in Toronto schools, and some of them will be children who have no other chance to learn," said trustee Paula Fletcher.

Fletcher said the city is expected to take over between 42 and 47 pools. If it takes over just 42 and the board runs 18, that leaves 24 pools with no future, she said.

If the city takes over 47 pools and the board runs 18, that leaves 19 pools facing closure.

"Either way, we're losing an important resource that will never be rebuilt."

Fletcher said that rising after-hours fees for the use of school pools already are forcing some community swim clubs, such as the East York Swim Club, to close down.


TRIBE Member
I can't understand why people are so attached to pools. When budgets are tight you need to set priorities, and quite frankly, swimming pools are very much a luxury.

None of my schools ever had a pool, and I like to think that I turned out just fine. :)

judge wopner

TRIBE Member
the problem w/ the pool situation, the city, like many people went nuts in the 60's and 70's building pools when the technology became affordable and popular.

but pools break down fast and are very expensive to repair cause you have to drain the whole thing just to patch up a crack in the concrete or fibreglass. its very very wasteful of water in general.

never mind the amount of chemicals placed in public pool water, and the amount of disease transfered to all the swimmers from pools.

anyone who use to lifeguard in city run pools probally got pink eye at some point!!:)

pools are total luxury. if they dont have enough money to run them, shut them down and focus on priority stuff. why all the fun about a fucking pool. who puts pools in ontario housing and what not? why not spend more on education of the poor or sports programs that arent so costly.:)
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TRIBE Member
I figured that public pools would be pretty cheap to run considering they're about 80% urine. Think of all the water being saved. ;)


TRIBE Member
Originally posted by silver1
I figured that public pools would be pretty cheap to run considering they're about 80% urine. Think of all the water being saved. ;)



TRIBE Member
Originally posted by ~atp~

You know, one might say that not having a pool available during my schooling years is what led to my "dry" sense of humour.

Eh? Eh? See what I mean? :)


TRIBE Member
toronto kids are so spoiled..... we barely even had a gym at my catholic school in Mississauga

I still get jealous when I hear people talking about how they had philosophy classes in high school :|

judge wopner

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by Gunark
toronto kids are so spoiled..... we barely even had a gym at my catholic school in Mississauga

I still get jealous when I hear people talking about how they had philosophy classes in high school :|

ha!! yeah, man i went to Father Geotz, we didnt even have a soccer feild until my jr year or something. never mind a pool.

i think the most exotic courses we had were different types of math and english courses!:)
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