Guelph suspends bathing suit policy after 8-year-old girl told to cover up at wading pool
WATCH ABOVE: A Fergus, Ont. couple is calling for change to City of Guelph policy, which says girls over the age of four need to wear bathing suit tops at public pools. As Lama Nicolas reported on June 23, the couple feels there’s a double standard.
The City of Guelph says it’s suspending its controversial bathing suit policy after feedback from the local community, city officials said Wednesday.
Anika Warmington said she and her husband had taken their children to Exhibition Park in Guelph on Saturday, when they were approached by a lifeguard who asked how old their daughter Marlee was.
When she informed the lifeguard that Marlee was eight years old, she was told that her daughter needed to put a top on.
“As soon as Marlee realized what happened she wanted to put a shirt on, she was embarrassed and felt singled out,” she said on Tuesday, adding that she felt it was a form of body shaming.
Kristene Scott, general manager of Parks and Recreation, said in a statement that the city would be reviewing its policy and suspending the regulations on bathing suit tops while a review takes place.
“We apologize that the event caused the little girl to feel singled out or embarrassed; that was not the intent of the employee who acted appropriately based on the City’s swimming attire policy,” the statement read.
“Since Saturday, we’ve received a lot of diverse feedback about the part of the policy that requires girls above the age of four to wear a swimming top. Some people support the policy while others feel it no longer meets their needs.”
Scott said that the policy is currently under review and the city will not enforce the regulation while city officials consult with other municipalities, schools, institutions, Parks and Recreation Ontario, the Life Saving Society and the Red Cross.
“We’ll also gather input from recreation patrons and the community at large, and ensure any proposed changes comply with applicable legislation,” Scott said.
The province of Ontario has no restrictions on women appearing topless in public places, but certain municipalities have their own rules with regard to proper bathing attire.
Toronto, Brampton and Mississauga follow the provincial guidelines and have no specific rules in place for bathing suit tops, but Hamilton and Guelph do.
With files from Lama Nicolas
© 2015 Shaw Media