On February 15, 2017, Toronto City Council voted to eliminate funding to support the operation of three TDSB pools: S.H. Armstrong (Duke of Connaught Public School), Centennial Recreation Centre (York Memorial Secondary School) and Don Mills Collegiate Institute.
The TDSB is very disappointed with this outcome. Pools are incredibly valuable community assets for both students during the school day and the broader community outside of school hours. We had requested that City Councillors stop further cuts to pools until a long-term, sustainable funding solution is found but unfortunately, City Council voted to move ahead with the cuts which will come into effect on June 30, 2017.
Since 2003, the City and the TDSB have worked in partnership to operate a number of school pools across the city. As per the latest Pools Agreement, which expires in 2017, the City of Toronto currently funds the operation of 26 (originally 33) school pools. In exchange, the Parks, Forestry and Recreation department is given exclusive use of the pools in the evenings, on weekends and during summer break to provide Torontonians of all ages with access to the facilities and a wide range of high-quality and affordable programs.
Last year, the City eliminated funding to support the operation of TDSB pools at Brown Junior Public School, Bendale Business and Technical Institute and Sir Wilfrid Laurier Collegiate Institute. To keep these pools open, the TDSB’s budget included one-time funding for the 2016-17 school year.
Over the years, the City has eliminated funding for 14 school pools. The TDSB’s budget has experienced the funding pressure to maintain these pools, but this is not sustainable without provincial funding that recognizes the cost of operating pools. Moving forward, the TDSB, City of Toronto and Ministry of Education must work together to confirm long-term, sustainable funding so that pools remain open for students and the broader community.
Keeping pools open is our priority, so we will look closely at our budget again this year to try to find the funds to continue operating these pools during the day for student use. However, this is not a sustainable solution for the Board in the long term. Given that the City has cut funding for pools (including community use of pools), the Board will also have to assess whether we can keep these pools open for community use after school hours. We will keep all impacted communities informed as we move through the TDSB’s process.
The TDSB’s Chair, Robin Pilkey, has requested a meeting with Mayor John Tory to discuss the importance of City funding for pools. The Chair has also reached out to the provincial government in the hope that the government will show an interest in working with the City and the TDSB on a long-term funding strategy for pools located in schools.
The Toronto Lands Corporation (a subsidiary of the TDSB that has responsibility for pools), is meeting with City officials to negotiate a new five year funding agreement. It is hoped that the City will commit to providing a strong financial contribution to the pools that remain in the agreement. In the meantime, the TLC is doing what it can to raise funds through community permitting of pools, however this revenue comes nowhere near meeting the operational cost of maintaining school pools. We will keep you informed of any new developments.
TDSB Chair’s Letter to Mayor
TDSB Chair Letter to City Councillors
Toronto Star - City must commit to help fund school pools: Pilkey