Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Update: Proposed Elimination of Fairmount Park Community Centre Programs

Late last week we learned that Fairmount Park Community Centre is one of the 12 shared-use community centres whose recreational programming has been targeted for elimination by city’s Budget Committee. The Budget Committee will make deliberations this week and recommend a budget to Council. Council will vote on the budget in mid-January.

We do not have full details about what precisely will be cut at Fairmount aside from recreation programs, however we do know the following:
  • These recreation programs will not be replaced in other neighbourhood centres. They will be eliminated outright. (More details in the budget backgrounder at this link)
  • We don’t know if the current aquatics programs will be continued to the same degree they are now, but we do know that we will be absorbing aquatics demand from more families in a wider region now that other neighbourhood schools are losing aquatics programming. So the demand for swim classes will be greatly increased.
In the best case scenario, if this budget item passes City Council vote in January, we anticipate that hours of operation at Fairmount will be significantly cut, keeping it open only in the late evenings and on Saturdays. Worst case scenario: We’re worried that the Community Centre might be locked up altogether, with the pool accessed through the small doors on Bowmore only, as a “satellite” aquatics program.

So far in its deliberations, the Budget Committee has not taken into account the importance of access to the Community Centre for tobogganers, skaters, tennis players, wading pool users and general park users. The park will take on a very different character for our families if the Community Centre is locked and dark.

Currently, our kids and families know that the Community Centre is a safe place to go for help or to use the bathroom. We feel that this decision will negatively impact their safety and use of the park, as there will no longer be the safe “windows on the park” or access to the restrooms that our families rely on.

Following is a statement from Councillor McMahon’s office today: “We are working with city staff to identify the specific criteria used to determine the centres and pools slated for closure. Our understanding is the proposed program cuts at Fairmount CC relates to Parks & Recreation programs only and not the pool programs; However we appreciate the cross connection between programs at the centre and pool programs and ensuring they continue to stay connected for the viability of the community. We will be working very hard to ensure we do everything possible to ensure no programming (pool or otherwise) is cut from the budget.”

Right now, you have two ways to make your voice heard, but there is no time to waste:

1. Apply to make a "deputation" (or a short, 2-5 minute presentation) to members of the city's Budget Committee on December 7 (see details below). You must register no later than 4 pm Tuesday, December 6.
  • Deputations will be heard 9:30 am – 9:30 pm on Wednesday December 7th and Thursday December 8th, 2011(if necessary)
  • Plan to speak for 5 minutes (may be cut to 2 mins) and bring printed copies of what you say to give to Councillors
  • Location for Deputations is Committee Room 1, City Hall, 100 Queen St. West
  • Request a deputation NO LATER THAN 4 pm on Tuesday, December 6 by calling (416) 392-1032 or (416) 397-7768 or sending an email to buc@toronto.ca
  • In your request, be sure to ask for your speaking number so that you have a better idea of when in the roster of speakers you will be heard.
2. If you cannot attend this week's hearings, then PLEASE take a moment to email a letter to the Budget Committee at buc@toronto.ca , and cc Councillor McMahon. Please also let us know when you have sent it, by emailing us.

To get your letter started, below is some suggested wording. Please make it your own, with your own thoughts and concerns. And please send it before the end of the day on Tuesday, December 6 to have it entered into the public record.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

re: BU19.1
2012 Capital and Operating Budgets - Public Consultations December 7 and 8, 2011

Dear Budget Committee:

I respectfully ask that this email testimonial be added to the public record for the upcoming 2012 Capital and Operating Budgets, Public Consultations on December 7, 2011.

I am concerned about the proposed elimination of recreational programming at Fairmount Park Community Centre. I ask that the Budget Committee consider the following points:

Located in a vibrant neighbourhood and serving families from every cultural and economic circumstance, Fairmount Park Community Centre is a cherished full service community centre offering aquatic programs along with an abundance of recreation programming for people of all abilities and ages. These programs are nearly always full, many within an hour of registration opening. We have an active Fairmount Park Advisory Council that is willing to work alongside Parks and Recreation staff to find efficiencies and ensure that programs offered meet the needs and demand of our neighbourhood.

Geographically, the centre is in the middle of a somewhat landlocked area, with public transit to the nearest community centres at Main Street or Matty Eckler taking approximately 20-30 minutes. Eliminating programs will create geographic barriers to our families’ access to recreation and sports programs. Having it located adjacent to our community school—and within walking distance to the many other schools that use this facility—also adds to its safe accessibility, by minimizing our children's travel distance between the school and after-school sports and recreation programs.

This facility is adjacent to a heavily-used city park, Fairmount Park, which includes a large baseball diamond, soccer field, tennis courts, wading pool and in the winter, a volunteer-maintained skating rink and popular toboggan hill. All these activities are extremely popular in our community, and rely on accessing the community centre for bathrooms and change rooms.

Perhaps most importantly, the community centre provides eyes on the park and a place of safety, where all our children and families know they can access help if they are threatened or hurt.

I am concerned that eliminating these programs will cost our city much more in the long run. When families have the opportunity to meet, play and talk with each other, we get thriving, sustainable, safe communities. This has deep economic benefit for us all.

Please do not eliminate the recreation programming at Fairmount Park Community Centre without providing an opportunity for our community to talk and meet with Parks and Recreation staff, to find better ways to make programs at Fairmount both viable and sustainable.

I urge you to allow for collaboration with local residents for each of the affected Community Centres, to find efficiencies that will help our neighbourhoods thrive, without losing these cherished community assets.


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