Toronto’s school pools serve not only as locations where recreation and life skills programs are offered, but also as important community hubs.
Until fairly recently the Cityof Toronto paid for almost the entire cost of operating the 33 swimming pools it uses to host City recreation programmes at the cost of $5.4 million per year. Within 4 years, the City will be paying for the entire operating costs for the pools in these schools, increasing the payment to $6.4 million. For these 33 schools, the City-Toronto District School Board (TDSB) agreement provides that for 2008, the TDSB will cover $1 million of operating costs, decreasing to zero within 4 years. The agreement also provides that the TDSB is responsible for the capital costs associated with the upkeep of those facilities.
This leaves the TDSB also covering both the operating and capital costs associated with the remaining 45 pools. The total operating costs for the TDSB for these pools is in excess of $10 million. With no source of additional revenues other than Provincial education grants, TDSB trustees are faced with the unenviable task of choosing between classroom funding or funding swimming pools.
The Provincial government must recognize the importance of properly funding BOTH and that they must forward the necessary funds to do this as part of the TDSB budget.
The Provincial government has a natural role in a partnership with the City of Toronto and the TDSB.
Clearly children and families in our city will be poorer for the loss of school pools. These facilities provide valuable sports, recreation and life skills opportunities for children and families. We ask you to join us and express your support for swimming pools in Toronto schools and the urgent need for the Provincial government to do its part by investing in these pools for our children and families.
The province is deflecting their responsibility by arguing that this is an issue between the TDSB and the City.
While short term solutions solve current budget crunches the Provincial government will need to be part of the solution here. It needs to accept responsibility that these are their schools and their pools. We urge you to join us and call on the province to address the financial issues and allow the school pools to continue to serve our residents.
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