Profiling the pool protesters

Sometimes, the messager is just as important as the message. And given this, the pool protesters might want to re-examine who’s speaking for them as they continue their war of publicity against the closing of some (not all) of the Toronto District School Board’s 84 pools.

Exhibit A: This morning’s guest on CBC’s Metro Morning. A Riverdale mother, she tells host Andy Barrie that she takes her child swimming at the Riverdale CI pool every morning because it’s her child’s favourite activity. And the pool is closing. It’s shameful.

Barrie, as a former Riverdale resident, notes that there is a pool at Jimmie Simpson community centre. Would that be an option for the mother and her child?

Well, yes, it would. Not quite as convenient, though, time wise.

This is a rallying cry? One privileged person’s child loves swimming, and may have to swim in another publicly-funded pool rather than the one currently frequented? Why should I or anyone else care?

(Barrie didn’t mention it, but there are also leisure swim hours at Frankland and Matty Eckler. And in the summer, there’s the outdoor pool at Riverdale Park. The pools that are slated to be closed are, as far as I can tell, all within a short distance of community pools or other school pools that will continue to operate.)

Another pool protester quoted in this morning’s Globe is at least able to highlight why this issue might be of interest to more than one family. Heidi Wilson says:

…if we don’t step in and take action now, then this fight will continue . It won’t be about pools next year, but the same argument will hold until they go and correct the funding formula.

The McGuinty government has failed to fix the flaws of the Harris funding formula, in good part because there is no politically palatable way to do so. And there’s also the very open question of whether the TDSB is any good at all at managing its finances. Kids — and adults — need places to swim and we all benefit from public places where we meet neighbours, strangers, and, with luck, people who aren’t just like us. But it’s hard to convince me of the import of a public good when the only person you care about it benefiting is yourself.