City of Toronto launches SwimTO plan to help Torontonians cool down this summer

Today, Mayor John Tory announced SwimTO – a quick-start program that will expedite the opening of the City’s beaches, outdoor pools, wading pools and splash pads. City staff are preparing now so that outdoor aquatic amenities can be opened when Toronto enters Stage 2, to help people cool down during hot summer temperatures.

The plan will help ensure that all Torontonians can safely access outdoor aquatic recreation and cool down during hot summer temperatures as Toronto begins to reopen. With the approach of hot summer weather and the extended closure of many indoor public spaces, it’s vital that Torontonians to have opportunities to cool down outdoors. When permitted, the City plans to open its outdoor aquatic amenities to prevent heat related-illnesses while continuing to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Toronto beaches have remained open in the same way green spaces in parks have been open. Beaches are not closed under Province of Ontario’s Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of the SwimTO plan, lifeguards will return to six of Toronto’s swimming beaches on Monday, June 22. Lifeguards will supervise each location daily from 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Swimming without the supervision of a lifeguard or outside designated swim areas is not recommended. The City will provide lifeguard supervision on swimming beaches coupled with comprehensive crowd management. Beach water quality testing and analysis will be completed by Toronto Public Health to ensure people can swim safely at Toronto beaches.

The six swimming beaches 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)

The four Toronto Island Park beaches will open for swimming following the resumption of ferry service. Rouge Valley Beach is currently inaccessible, and a supervised swim program will not operate there.

Right now, outdoor pools, wading pools and splash pads remain closed due to provincial orders and public health recommendations. City staff are preparing now so that we can act quickly to open outdoor aquatic amenities following the amendment of the Province’s orders and Toronto’s participation in Ontario’s Stage 2 reopening.

Significant work is underway to expedite the opening of outdoor pools, splash pads and wading pools including:

  • 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.

As part of the SwimTO plan, people can expect to visit any of the City’s 140 splashpads within a week of being permitted to open. Outdoor pools and wading pools would follow thereafter.

It is expected that capacity at outdoor pools will be significantly reduced. Staff are awaiting provincial guidelines and will prioritize leisure swims throughout the day in order to give as many swimmers as possible the opportunity to cool off.

While visiting a beach or park, people must practise physical distancing and avoid crowding. Under the City’s physical distancing bylaw, any two people who don’t live together, who fail to keep two metres of distance between them in a City park or public square, can receive a $1,000 ticket. Under the Province’s Emergency Order, a social gathering or organized public event of more than 10 people is prohibited, unless everyone gathered together lives in the same household.

Toronto beaches and parks provide many opportunities for aquatic recreation, escaping the summer heat and enjoying the calming effect of nature. Toronto boasts some of the best swimming beaches around. Eight of Toronto’s 11 beaches have been awarded Blue Flag certification, meeting high standards for water quality, environmental management as well as education, safety and services. These beaches are perfect for taking a swim during the hot summer months. More information about Blue Flag certification is available at https://www.toronto.ca/health/swimsafe/beaches_blueflag.htm.

More information on Toronto beaches and swimming in the city is available at www.toronto.ca/beaches and www.toronto.ca/swim.

Quotes:

“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. 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.”

– Mayor John Tory

“Swimming and watersports are a great way to get active and be healthy and access to aquatic amenities are critical on hot summer days. Our aquatic program is also geared toward water safety, so that everyone can participate in our pools, have fun and be safe. Toronto beaches are a favourite destination for families in the summertime and I encourage more people to take the opportunity to cool down, experience nature and spread out outdoors this summer.”

– Councillor James Pasternak (Ward 6 York Centre) Chair of the Infrastructure and Environment Committee