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Urban Living

It’s Beyond Time to (Safely) Open Condo Swimming Pools

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Despite heat waves, speedy vaccine progress, and dwindling COVID-19 numbers, swimming pools in many Toronto condo buildings remain closed to their residents. 

When Ontario finally enters Step 3 of its reopening plan on Friday, opening both indoor gyms and indoor dining and easing capacity restrictions in the process, beloved condo amenities like swimming pools — you know, the ones we pay for — should finally (safely) open as well. 

After all, public pools have been open for almost a month now. Hotel pools are back to selling day passes. And waterparks are welcoming guests. In other words, keeping condo pools closed is getting ridiculous. And, frankly, detrimental to the mental and physical health of residents in a city of limited green space and stir-crazy people who are fresh from a never-ending lockdown.  

Limiting people’s access to outdoor space — something proven to enhance well-being — only results in the over-crowding of nearby parks and ferry docks.

On June 7, my downtown Toronto condo sent out a notice that the swimming pool would remain closed for the entire season. That’s right; they made the call when the numbers were already trending downward and were expected to continue in that direction as vaccines rolled out.  

Now, here we are just over a month later, and life as we know it is much different: people gather in crowds to celebrate sports wins, we can dine with anyone we want, workers are returning to offices, and COVID numbers have reached lows we haven’t seen since last September. 

Yet, the pool — the decided star of the show in the building — remains closed. And there’s no word on when the large and once well-used gym, another major draw of the building, will open. 

If amenities were allowed to safely open in condo buildings — complete with capacity restrictions, appointment times, and sign-in protocols for contact tracing — it would improve residents’ anxiety by offering safe, regulated, and convenient access to much-needed outdoor space and fitness facilities. 

While the whole ordeal is beyond frustrating, my condo isn’t alone in its rigidness. While some — like King West’s Fashion House — have opened their breezy pools, too many condo swimming pools remain closed throughout the city. Yet, it’s safe to assume that some could reopen soon. The fate of your pool this summer, however, lays in the hands of your condo board. 

In the spring, Rob Klopot, CEO of The Forest Hill Group, a luxury condo development consulting firm, highlighted the role of a building’s condo board when it comes to our precious amenities and pandemic times. 

“In condos when there’s a rule or policy, I think that some people view that as an overarching view or policy in place by the City,” says Klopot. “The reality is that the board has the power to implement rules specific to the condo, and we saw that play out last summer when it came to the treatment of outdoor amenities in buildings across the province.”

Last summer saw some of his clients’ building amenities safely open, while others remained closed. “It’s based on the clients’ decision on how to put rules in place at this time,” says Klopot. “Usually, the younger, most densely populated buildings are encouraging the safe opening of outdoor amenities, while the condos with older, aging populations wanted to keep them closed out of an abundance of caution.”

It will be interesting to see which Toronto condos decide to safely reopen their pools for the season (and which will be too lazy; yes, I said it). After all, we still have two months of prime pool weather ahead of us.

In the meantime, I’ll be over here feeling like I live at home with the strictest parents on the planet, jealous of all the cooler condo boards who decide to take the plunge. 

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