Toronto Mayor John Tory said he has asked for a review after Olympic swimming star Penny Oleksiak tweeted her support for the city’s pools as the city considers potential budget cuts.
“It’s important to teach kids how to swim.. It saves lives and is a good physical activity #TOpoli #saveSHpool #ToBudget Good luck to Duke,” Oleksiak wrote on Tuesday.
Tory later shared her tweet and said he followed up.
“Gold medal message received, @OleksiakPenny. I’ve asked Budget Chief Gary Crawford to find a way to save these pools,” he wrote Wednesday.
The messages come as the City of Toronto is facing a $91-million budget shortfall. In order to achieve a $2-million savings, a proposal was made to close 12 outdoor pools and 36 wading pools as well as not renewing the leases at three Toronto District School Board (TDSB) pools.
Outside of S.H. Armstrong Community Centre – the pool referenced in Oleksiak’s tweet – near Greenwood Avenue and Queen Street East, parents reflected on the facility’s importance.
“It’s a huge loss for our community because it’s used a lot and it’s a big source of learning,” Marcus Piscaer said. “It’ll be a huge disappointment.”
“I’m glad someone from the community who’s very high profile is bringing attention to it. It’s a community asset,” Sally Bliss said.
As for the TDSB pools, those facilities would remain open for students during the day since the school board owns them. But if the leases are not renewed, the pools would not open to the public after hours and on weekends.
The 2017 budget is scheduled to be presented to Toronto City Council in mid-February.