Toronto Mayor John Tory announced SwimTO this week, which will be expediting the opening of Toronto’s beaches, outdoor pools, wading pools, and splash pads.
Outdoor aquatic amenities are now being prepared by City staff to “help people cool down during hot summer temperatures,” once Toronto enters Stage 2 of the provincial reopening.
“The goal when it comes to recreational access to water amenities is very simple: get everything ready so we can open them up as fast and as safely as possible once we get the green light from the province,” said Tory. “SwimTO is one more example of the City’s commitment to residents and will help mitigate the hot temperatures we will experience this summer. I encourage Torontonians to explore the City’s many options to swim and cool off outdoors this summer.”
This Monday, Ontario Premier announced the commencement of Stage 2, as a part of the province’s reopening plan. However, Toronto was not included. The Toronto Public Health region is expected to move into Stage 2 at a later date.
Once Stage 2 begins in the City and Toronto begins to reopen, SwimTO is planned to ensure that Toronto residents can safely access aquatic recreation.
According to the City, there are plans to open outdoor aquatic amenities, when permitted, to prevent any heat related illnesses. The opening plans are also in place to continue to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Beaches across the city have remained open in the same way that all other green spaces in parks have remained open. Under the Province of Ontario’s Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, beaches are not closed.
Lifeguards will be returning to six of Toronto’s swimming beaches, as a part of the SwimTO plan. They will be returning as of Monday, June 22.
This means that there will be lifeguard supervision from 11:30 am to 6:30 pm at each location.
Swimming without lifeguard supervision is not recommended. It is also not recommended to swim outside of the designated swim areas.
There will be beach water quality testing and analysis completed by Toronto Public Health to ensure that people can safely swim at the beaches.
The beaches that will be opening on June 22 are:
- Bluffer’s Park Beach (Blue Flag)
- Cherry/Clarke Beach (Blue Flag)
- Kew-Balmy Beach (Blue Flag)
- Marie Curtis Park East Beach
- Sunnyside Beach
- Woodbine Beach (Blue Flag)
As of July 1, the four Toronto Island beaches will also be open for swimming.
The Rouge Valley Beach will not have a supervised swim program as it is currently inaccessible.
Provincial orders and public health recommendations have kept outdoor pools, wading pools and splash pads closed, as of now.
As City staff is currently working to expedite the opening of outdoor aquatic activities, they are currently working on the following:
- hiring and training staff
- turning water on and filling outdoor pools
- turning on mechanical and filtration systems
- creating signage that clarifies expectations for physical distancing and hygiene
- establishing health guidelines that will ensure these amenities can be operational as soon as possible after they are permitted
The City’s 140 splash pads are expected to be open first. The City has said that as a part of the SwimTO plan, residents can expect to visit splash pads within a week of being permitted to open.
Outdoor pools and wading pools would follow.
Staff is also currently waiting on guidelines on capacity sizing but has said that they “will prioritize leisure swims throughout the day in order to give as many swimmers as possible the opportunity to cool off.”
Physical distancing measures will still be put into place when visiting a beach or a park.