Mayor John Tory says Toronto is launching programs called SwimTO and CampTO to ensure residents can still enjoy the summer during the pandemic.
The city, meanwhile, is seeing fewer new cases daily and fewer hospitalizations due to COVID-19, Dr. Eileen de Villa, the city’s medical officer of health, said at a city hall news conference on Wednesday.
De Villa reported that Toronto has 121 new cases as of Tuesday at 3 p.m., a number that brings the city’s cumulative total to 12,949.
A total of 10,310 people have recovered, an increase of 403 since Monday. A total of 956 people have died of COVID-19, with 328 in hospital, 73 in intensive care units and 61 on ventilators.
De Villa noted that Toronto is recording more cases among young people than it did earlier in the outbreak, but the highest rates of new infections are now among people in their 50s. She said the main risk factor continues to be close contact with a new case, usually in a household or at work.
But public health measures, and public compliance with those measures, are making a difference, she said.
“We are certainly seeing progress here in Toronto with a reduction in new cases and hospitalizations,” De Villa said.
SwimTO to help residents keep cool, mayor says
As summer approaches, Tory said staff are working to ensure the city’s beaches, outdoor pools, wading pools and splash pads can be opened quickly as soon as Toronto is allowed to move into Stage 2 of the province’s recovery plan. Emergency orders could be lifted by June 19, allowing amenities to open, he said.
“Summer is always a great time in our city. We know this summer is going to be different due to COVID-19, but summer is absolutely not going to be cancelled,” Tory said.
“I will do whatever is needed here at city hall and issue any proclamations required to guarantee, pandemic or not, that we do have a summer in 2020. It’ll be a different summer, but it’s going to be a good summer.”
SwimTO, which Tory called a “quick-launch” program, will ensure that Toronto residents can safely enjoy outdoor aquatic recreation this summer, he said. There are more than 300 city-run outdoor aquatic amenities in Toronto and it will take time to get them ready, he added.
“With the approach of hot summer weather and the extended closure of many indoor public spaces, it’s vital that Torontonians have an opportunity to cool down outdoors,” Tory said.
“When permitted, the city plans to open its outdoor aquatic amenities to prevent heat-related illnesses while continuing to stop the spread of COVID-19.”
Tory said city has begun to hire and train staff, turn water on and fill outdoor pools, turn on and service mechanical and filtration systems and create signs about the importance of physical distancing and frequent hand-washing.
Staff have also begun to draw up guidelines to ensure the amenities, including splash pads and wading pools, can open quickly when permission from the province is granted. The city’s 140 splash pads could open within a week of the lifting of restrictions. Outdoor pools and wading pools will follow, he added.
“The goal when it comes to recreational access to water amenities is very simple: get everything ready so we can open them up as fast and as safely as possible once we get the green light from the province,” Tory said.
Tory noted that the city’s beaches have remained open during the pandemic in the same way that green spaces in parks have been open.
As part of SwimTO, lifeguards will supervise six of Toronto’s beaches starting on Monday, June 22. The other five will be supervised by July 1.
The lifeguards will supervise each location daily from 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. The city doesn’t recommend swimming without the supervision of a lifeguard or outside designated areas.
Toronto Public Health will test and analyze the quality of beach water daily, the city said in a news release on Wednesday. Eight of Toronto’s 11 beaches have been awarded Blue Flag certification and that means they meet international standards for water quality, safety and services and environmental management.
The six beaches that will have lifeguard supervision on June 22 are:
- Bluffer’s Park Beach (Blue Flag).
- Cherry/Clarke Beach (Blue Flag).
- Kew-Balmy Beach (Blue Flag).
- Marie Curtis Park East Beach.
- Sunnyside Beach.
- Woodbine Beach (Blue Flag).
As for Toronto Island Park, its four beaches will be open for swimming when ferry service resumes. Rouge Valley Beach is not accessible and a supervised swim program will not operate there, the city said.
Right now, outdoor pools, wading pools and splash pads remain closed due to provincial orders and public health recommendations.
City to offer summer camps on July 13
As for CampTO, the city will offer summer camps starting on July 13. The launch follows a provincial announcement that summer camps can operate during Stage 2 of the reopening plan.
Tory said the city will offer more than 32,000 registered camp spaces for children aged six to 12 at about 150 locations across the city. More than eight weeks of camps will be available. Camps will also be offered at six Toronto history museum sites and one city arts centre. The program itself will be smaller than last year, he said.
CampTO will offer traditional day-camp experiences, including dance, drama, music, arts and crafts and active games.
Tory said the camps will meet current health guidelines set out by Toronto Public Health and the province. Guidelines during the pandemic include lower ratios of staff to kids, physical distancing, mandatory health screening and increased cleaning of facilities.
Residents can get a look at the summer camps available online on Saturday, June 13 at toronto.ca/camps.
Registration for CampTO will begin at 7 a.m. on Wednesday, June 24 for Etobicoke, York and Scarborough and Thursday, June 25 for East York, West Toronto, York and North York.
To register online, residents should go to efun.toronto.ca. Phone registration will also be available at 416-396-7378. Registration in person is not available. Residents can call 416-396-7378 Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for help preparing for registration.
City creates 65 km of quiet streets through ActiveTO
As for ActiveTO, Tory said the city has created 65 kilometres of quiet streets in 32 neighbourhoods as part of the plan.
When the program was launched in May, the city planned to create 57 kilometres, but added eight more kilometres after receiving feedback from councillors and residents.
Tory said staff have been monitoring all quiet streets and are making changes as needed. The changes include adjusting the size of temporary barriers and where they are placed and reviewing the types of barriers and parking spaces.
The city plans to survey residents who use quiet streets to assess the existing locations.
Quiet streets, according to the city, are shared spaces that allow residents to maintain physical distancing while enjoying neighbourhood streets.
Signs and barricades are placed at intersections, local vehicles are allowed only, and people are encouraged to walk, run or bike on the street. Parking, waste collection and emergency access are not affected.
The locations were chosen based on such factors as population density, equity and access, and traffic volumes as well as access to green space and nearby attractions.
Over 10 km of roads to be closed this weekend
More than 10 kilometres of major roads will be closed this weekend as part of ActiveTO.
The following closures are set to start Saturday at 6 a.m. and end Sunday at 11 p.m.:
- Eastbound lanes of Lake Shore Boulevard West from Windermere Avenue to Stadium Road. The eastbound Gardiner Expressway off-ramp to Lake Shore Boulevard West (exit number 146) will also be closed.
- Eastbound lanes of Lake Shore Boulevard East from Leslie Street to just south of Woodbine Avenue at Kew Beach Avenue.
- Bayview Avenue from Front Street East to Rosedale Valley Road.
- River Street from Gerrard Street East to Bayview Avenue.