A true summertime treasure in Toronto is the Donald Summerville outdoor Olympic-sized pool. But alas, this 50-metre pool has been closed all summer long. In fact, it won’t even reopen until next year.
Why? Well back in June, when the pool was supposed to open, City of Toronto officials said staff unexpectedly discovered damage to the liners in the 25-metre training pool and the 50-metre Olympic pool. The damage was apparently caused by inclement winter weather. The city was able to get a replacement liner for the 25-metre pool, but not the 50-metre pool.
But again: why? How is it that replacing the big pool’s liner couldn’t be completed in a few days or even a few weeks? And for that matter, why does a concrete pool need a liner in the first place?
We reached out to the city and here’s the response on behalf of the Parks, Forestry & Recreation division: “The 50 metre pool at Donald D. Summerville is concrete and lined with a custom fitted commercial grade pool liner. Most City of Toronto pools are in-ground, however, this pool sits above a lobby, change rooms and commercial space, and given this requires additional protection from leaks. The vendor was unable to source the liner replacement for the 50-metre pool in time to reopen for the 2022 season.”
They went on to say, “Significant care is taken to assess and evaluate pools prior to their opening. Unfortunately, while preparing the facility for opening, staff discovered that inclement winter weather had caused significant damage. Through in-person inspection by the vendor shortly afterwards, it was determined that the damage was more significant than initially expected, rendering the liners irreparable and requiring full replacement in order for the pools to be filled, retain water and operate safely. A custom-fitted commercial grade 60-millimetre pool lining cannot be easily or quickly sourced. Replacing and installing a custom liner on a pool of this size and age is quite complex and requires extensive work.”
Granted, we know nothing about pools. But unlike the sluggos employed in the mainstream media who just took the city’s explanation at face value, we reached out to a pool service expert with some 38 years of experience. He prefers to remain anonymous, but when he saw the city’s response, he said the city’s story simply does not add up.
The pool professional states: “The city could’ve ordered the liner in March and had it in hand by April 15 as the measurements are easy to take. The question is, how many of the four or five liner manufacturers did they approach to even ask for a date of delivery? I’m guessing none, because a liner in this case would have taken no more than a month from order to delivery. With the right crew, it would take one day to install and the city could fill [the pool] in hours taking water from a nearby fire hydrant.
“By the way, liners are NOT designed to be left empty over winter as they will shrink and possible damage would occur. Why aren’t they covering these ‘liner pools’ with a safety cover to help prevent damage?”
But the city remains adamant: even though it had MONTHS to install a liner, this was apparently an impossible task. Are you buying that? Drive through downtown Toronto and you will see skyscrapers being built at an astonishing rate of speed. Yet the city considers the replacement of a pool liner to be akin to constructing the Great Pyramid of Giza? Then again, those aforementioned skyscrapers are being built by the private sector whereas city employees tend to work at a pace that almost rivals molasses going uphill in wintertime. And that’s sad.
Thousands of swimmers have been denied a season to swim in this glorious Olympic-sized pool. Summer in our great Dominion is always too short a season. How unfortunate that the city is apparently unable to shift into high gear to facilitate a simple repair in a timely fashion.