BWVRA forum brings residents and officials together.
June 14, 2006
The June 14th forum on recreation issues presented by the Bloor West Village Residents Association highlighted a number of concerns people in our community have about the activities available to their children.
In attendance were: Irene Atkinson, School Trustee Ward 7, John Fulton, City of Toronto Parks and Recreation, Mike McClusky, Supervisor Parks and Rec West District, and Councillor Bill Saundercook, Ward 13.
Not enough programs & poor facilities
While many attending stated that they routinely drive their kids out of the area to find the Rec programs they need, City officials maintained that Bloor West (Ward 13) ranks 4th in all Toronto in terms of facility space.
They admitted that this statistic is not a measure of actual services or the quality of the facilities. A number of residents asked for statistics on how many residents from the Bloor West area are registering for programs elsewhere because programs are lacking or facilities are sub-standard. Asked for an explicit pledge to provide these figures, West District Parks and Recreation Supervisor Mike McClusky and Councillor Saundercook agreed.
Councillor Bill Saundercook noted that he and local Parks and Rec officials had recently come up with a more direct way for residents to express their opinions on recreation programs and facilities. They undertook to finalize the details and to make this new sounding board available to the community.
The Councillor also accepted what both staff reports and residents say about the run down condition of our local pools and facilities. He pledged to get those improvements on a priority list for future budget discussions. In the meantime the Councillor said the Home Depot store has pledged funds to give the Annette Recreation center a face lift.
Sports in School: The majority left out?
School Trustee Irene Atkinson (Ward 7) was asked by a number of parents about the sports policy at Runnymede Public School. They feel the school’s focus on fielding competitive teams (inter scholastic) means the majority of kids are denied the chance to play team sports at school. Parents described children giving up on sports after failing to make a school team. They maintained that the same few dozen strong athletes at the school dominate all teams. Those who fail have not tot the option to play at a recreational level because very few intra mural programs are offered.
Trustee Aktkinson said she would do her best to intervene. The BWVRA has forwarded the inquiry to the principal of Runnymede School and is following up with the Toronto District School Board’s Phys Ed Department.
Swimming classes: wrong times, wrong ages?
“Pre-school swimming at 8pm?”, one mom asked. Staff from the area’s three pools said they were scheduling a variety of times and ages aimed at meeting the needs of working parents, some early, some late. One staffer from Swansea pool said clients should feel free to ask at the Rec centers if something isn’t working for them. Sometimes new programs/slots are quickly created in response to requests. “We’re here to please the users, not ourselves”, the staff member said.
Checking with residents before setting Rec schedules.
The Annette and Keele Rec centers do not have advisory councils made up of local residents. However, Parks and Rec supervisor Mike McClusky says his department is working on the idea of holding a neighbourhood consultation night once or twice a year before it finalizes the Fun Guide catalogue of programs. The BWVRA offered to follow up on the idea for next year.
A home for skateboarders?
Most people would like them off the street, their parents would like them somewhere safe. Councillor Saundercook reported that discussions on locating a new skateboard facility in High Park have ruled it out. However, he says there is still talk of locating one in Lampton Park, and that a skateboard park in the Royal York and Islington area would be open within a year. One resident reported that a new skateboard facility has been opened in Dufferin Grove Park.
A copy of this summary has been forwarded to the officials who attended the forum by the BWVRA, which will follow up on the commitments made.