City pledges to repair broken amenities at Regent Park pool after dad tweets out criticism

Listiyo Ridawer

The City of Toronto says it will take steps to fix broken amenities at a public swimming pool in Regent Park as soon as possible after a tweet by father of three criticized the city for failing to maintain the facility.

An “appropriate team” is looking at ways to fix or replace the spa pool, diving board and the swing rope at the Pam McConnell Aquatic Centre, while keeping disruptions to a minimum for pool users, according to Howie Dayton, director of community recreation for the city.

The centre, which has a large lap pool, a leisure pool and a spa pool, is located at 640 Dundas St. E. It opened with great fanfare a decade ago as part of the city’s ongoing effort to revitalize Regent Park and turn it from a primarily public housing project into a mixed-income neighbourhood. 

“The city understands the community’s frustration with amenity suspensions and delays to repairs that have taken longer than initially anticipated,” Dayton said in an email on Monday.

Dayton said the water slide, which was closed due to a mechanical problem in its air filtration system, reopened on Monday.

He added that the “cooler water temperatures” in the pool are not due to any mechanical issue, and staff, with outside help, are making changes to the process that warms the water.

The city’s response comes after Stephan Schmelzer, whose children are aged 2, 6, and 9, tweeted a photo of the pool on Sunday to draw attention to its broken amenities. 

Schmelzer, a resident of Leslieville, said his children were disappointed by their experience at the pool and he is concerned that the city is not maintaining it properly.

Delays in fixing the broken amenities are due to the difficulty in finding parts, Dayton said. 

“Overall, delays relate to vendor and material sourcing delays. Minor additional delays are the result of ensuring safe and continued operation of the majority of the aquatic centre,” Dayton said.

Schmelzer said his children remember the pool as a fun place to swim with “great facilities,” but they were “totally surprised” when they returned to the pool on Sunday for the first time since the summer. 

“All the things you go to Regent Park for — it’s a beautiful pool, the slide, the rope, the diving board, the big huge warm pool with the fountains and everything — they were all are unusable, so it was kind of a bummer. We made the most of it, but it wasn’t what we thought,” Schmelzer said.

Swimmers at Pam McConnell Aquatic Centre enjoy the pool before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the city. (CBC)

“It’s kind of a shame. The city builds these beautiful venues and things and then they don’t maintain them. And they sort of fall apart. If you are building these things, and then all the things that make them unique and beautiful just fall to pieces, it’s kind of sad. It makes it sad for everybody.”

Schmelzer said the heater in the smaller shallow pool is also not functioning, which meant young children had to go into the larger lap pool on Sunday, and the showers in the change rooms were cold. As well, the diving blocks weren’t available. 

“Everything was sort of broken. It was like going to a condo pool,” he said. 

On its website, the city says: “Please be advised that the Diving Board, Spa, Slide, Swing Rope and Leisure Pool Features are currently not operational. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.”

Councillor says city lacks resources

Coun. Joe Mihevc, who represents Ward 10, Spadina-Fort York, said his office has received a number of complaints about many city facilities, including housing, garbage cans and potholes on the street, and he said the criticisms have a lot of validity. It’s a question of the state of good repair, he said.

“The city lacks the resources to do the basic things that we need to do,” he said.

Mihevc said part of the problem is the city spent a lot of money on protecting the health of residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. As well, some positions have not been filled when people have retired and the city’s budget committee has underfunded various city departments, he added, saying the result is facilities not being repaired.

“The city really needs to look at its books and it needs to look at revenue sources. Gone are the days when property taxes alone can fund the services that we need,” he said.

“You spend all this money building it, something breaks down, as happens in every sector of life, and then you don’t have the money to fix it? That’s not a good proposition. We need the money to fix these kinds of facilities.”

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