Oakwood's pool to become a new school gym
The pool at Oakwood CI will be drained and converted into a new gym at a cost of $335,000 as the school can’t adequately program phys-ed classes without it.
Oakwood was one of seven pools that the school board voted to close in order to save $1.1 million a year in operating costs.
The matter came down to a late night vote at a standing room only meeting.
“It was literally an eleventh hour decision,” St. Paul’s school trustee Josh Matlow said June 25, the morning after the vote.
However, nothing is finalized, said trustee Howard Goodman on June 29, just hours before heading back to another evening of budget debates.
“We don’t know until the budget is balanced,” he said.
In order for the seven pools on the closure list to be funded, the board would have to cut something else.
He’s also holding out for a funding miracle.
“There are angels in the world for a lot of things,” he said. “There may be an angel for school pools.”
Another 13 facilities, including Winona/McMurrich, Earl Grey and Carleton Village, were put on a probational list until Dec. 31 to allow time to secure sufficient permit revenue. The board is seeking enough cash to cover the $762,692 in incremental costs of running those pools.
The good news for pool advocates is the board threw a lifeline to seven other facilities at Rosedale Heights, George S Henry Academy, Forest Hill, North Toronto, Malvern, West Toronto and Humberside CIs.
In April, the board decided to save 13 pools including Lawrence Park CI, Northern SS and Deer Park PS.
Dozens of volunteers worked for over a year with former mayor David Crombie’s Aquatic Working Group to save the pools. They secured enough permit revenue to convince the board to save 20, so far.
“I am supportive and happy the TDSB recognized these are not just great revenue streams but in many ways self-sufficient,” said group member Livia Hunter the morning after the board’s vote. “It was an obvious decision.”
Trustee Matlow used a swimming analogy to describe the outcome for the 40 pools.
“Twenty are swimming,” Matlow said. “Thirteen are treading water while we look for funding. And seven, sadly, will sink as there’s no obvious funding source for those pools.”
Consultant Karen Pitre has been working with Crombie on securing revenue for all the school pools.
“We have come a long way, but we aren’t done yet,” she said.
The task now is saving the 13 sites on the probationary list.
“My understanding is essentially those pools will be closed as of the end of August,” said Pitre. “Water will be left in them, but they won’t re-open until there’s sufficient permit revenue.”
Re-opening the 13 pools could happen anytime before Dec. 31. After that, time will have run out.
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