Councillors suggest way to save Riverdale pool

Former trustees want profits from surplus property sale
By JOANNA LAVOIE (RIVERDALE-BEACHES MIRROR)

Two east-end councillors have come up with a proposal they believe would put an end to ongoing concerns that Riverdale Collegiate Institute’s (RCI) pool could be drained.
Councillors Paula Fletcher (Ward 30, Toronto-Danforth) and Sandra Bussin (Ward 32, Beaches-East York), both former school trustees, drafted a letter to the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) on April 20 offering “a helpful suggestion to the ongoing dilemma surrounding the continued operation of the swimming pool at RCI.”

In the letter, the councillors point to six properties along Leslie Street, which the TDSB purchased for the purpose of future improvements including the expansion of the local high school’s playing field space.

Those properties have recently been placed on the TDSB’s surplus list and are set to be sold.

What Bussin and Fletcher are proposing is that the school board establish a trust fund where the proceeds from the sale of those six lots be reinvested into RCI’s 25-metre-long pool.

Typically, proceeds from the sale of properties deemed surplus are not directed towards specific schools but rather are placed into a general funding pool.

Fletcher said that Riverdale Collegiate has already lost the expansion of its playing field and doesn’t deserve to be under constant threat of losing its pool.

“It’s a double whammy for the school. (Losing) both of these things at the same time doesn’t make any sense,” she said.

“It’s okay to sell (the properties) but it’s not okay to not put the dollars back into recreational facilities at the school. Those properties were being held in trust for the school site.”

Fletcher said the RCI situation is a unique circumstance as the surplus properties are connected to its main property. Typically, surplus properties are unused or vacant sites.

“This is a different case. We’re arguing that it actually constitutes a special case,” Fletcher said.

“It could be a $2-million fund. It’s a great solution.”

Bussin, who during her time as a school trustee, acquired the funding to rebuild the school and construct its pool, called the facility an important local asset.

“Keeping Riverdale Collegiate’s pool ‘afloat’ is essential to the physical health programming at Riverdale Collegiate as well as the recreational needs of the surrounding community,” she said.

“I believe the Toronto board of education needs to take whatever actions it needs to take to save the pool. I think it’s a very important action that needs to be taken.”

And while the province may have come through this time by agreeing to provide capital funding to save the pool from being drained, Bussin and Fletcher want to ensure it remains a part of the community for years to come.

Their letter was circulated to trustees in the agenda of the TDSB’s last regular meeting on April 22. The matter was briefly discussed and trustees agree to have staff look into the suggestion.

Ward 15 (Toronto-Danforth) Trustee Cathy Dandy could not be reached for comment by press time.