Friday, September 11, 2015


Taking the plunge from Monocle on Vimeo.

Labour Day isn’t the end of summer, but the beginning of its dismantling. In Toronto, all of the public pools close up for the season despite two more weeks of summer (a recent heat alert should be all the evidence you need). I’ve dreamt of Toronto having (another) Lakeshore pool for years. You could argue that Toronto has enough pools and outdoor pools are expensive to maintain especially when only open from July 1st to September 7-ish. In the 15 years I’ve been in Toronto there have been perhaps only 2 or 3 years when it wasn’t warm enough to swim from June until the end of September but that’s beside the point. Only the bravest Torontonians swim in the lake but we all suffer from the heat and humidity. To me, the two new lakeside parks, HTO and Sugar Beach are ridiculously separated from the water – you can look, but you can’t touch. There’s a real possibility of doing something in between these two concepts from London and Berlin. A pool that juts out into Lake Ontario from Sugar Beach could be naturally filtered like King’s Cross Pond and perhaps even be fed from Sherbourne Common and yet have the urban feel and “adultness” of the Haubentacher. It could be open early and late and tie in with the Distillery district. Or it could be paired with a skating rink for winter activity that felt like you weren’t just near the Lake but on it. Recent projects that were smaller in scale have flirted closely to this idea but never saw the bigger whole. Sherbourne Common filters stormwater run-off to create what can only be called a heat sink ode to concrete while across the road a lovely but small wind swept ice rink stands like a lonely igloo on a tundra of brown grass. If you had combined these ideas - the storm water run-off filtration, the skating rink and the faux beaches of Sugar Beach and HTO into one community pool - a pool for play and cooling off and not for laps or water slides, it would connect us to the water without the “perils” or liability of the wild part of the lake (or without needing any Blue Flag system). The facility could also have a public marina for kayakers, canoeists, paddle boarders or dragon boats. Toronto has never lacked for imagination but has always lacked in conviction, courage and will power. The existence of such projects in New York, London and Berlin just emphasis that we’re still a kid at the table.

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