Community celebrates saving pool where Olympian Penny Oleksiak learned to swim

By Jela Tejada on February 26th, 2018

‘We Saved Our Pool’ party marked success of Leslieville community

No one can say the Leslieville community was just treading water in the fight to save their pool.

Local parents, children, the pool working group, sponsors and Ward 30 councillor Paula Fletcher celebrated as a token of the community’s hard work during the “We Saved Our Pool” Party on Saturday at the S.H. Armstrong pool.

In January 2017, the S.H. Armstrong pool, located in the Duke of Connaught Public School at 56 Woodfield Rd., risked closure in the city’s 2017 budget process.

The pool working group thanked the Daniels Corporation and Sierra Group during the event for their financial contributions to keep the programs afloat at S.H. Armstrong.

With the support of these private organizations, “more than 500 kids in the community were able to return to swim classes this past fall,” said Sara Ehrhardt, co-chair of the working group.

The Leslieville pool was one of 10 TDSB pools, whose programs were to be cut, in a larger plan to save the city $2 million.

“I want these kind of programs to be available for everyone in the community, not just for the middle-class and above,” said Sally Bliss, mom of two and a high school health teacher.

Last year, 17-year-old gold medallist swimmer, Penny Oleksiak, voiced her support for the East-end Toronto pool that taught her how to swim.

“Imagine closing a pool that spawned an Olympian,” said Fletcher, “It just doesn’t make sense.”

The working group, in collaboration with Fletcher, has worked tirelessly in the past year with their numerous phone calls, letters and petition to save the local pool.

“What we have here is affordable access to life-saving skills and in this city, which is very close to the lake, knowing how to swim is not a privilege, it’s a right,” said Angie Law, member of the working group.