Winter is weeks from being over, but already it's that time of year. The City of Toronto has officially opened registration for city-run recreational programs for kids in the summer 2019 season. And as always, parents are doing whatever it takes to get their child a coveted spot on the list. Even if it means waiting outside all night in -21°C windchills to be the first ones in line.
According to Toronto's Chief Communications Officer Brad Ross, the city has already processed 50,633 applications only within the first hour of registration. "That’s 47.7% more than was processed at the same time last year. 96% of those registrations were processed online, with just over 2,000 processed on the phone or in person," he wrote.
But even so, some parents decided that the safest bet was to wait outside the community centre so that they could process their child's application in person. Toronto Star reporter Jennifer Pagliaro captured a photo of a mother and her friend at 10:00 PM on Tuesday, hunkering down for a long night of waiting.
Mary Ann Scott and her friend are waiting outside a downtown community centre right now in hopes of getting their children into city-run recreation programs. Demand is so high and the system unreliable so they resort to waiting all night. It’s -21C. Registration opens tomorrow AM pic.twitter.com/EkCJy6Phyn— Jennifer Pagliaro (@jpags) March 6, 2019
Woman on right has an adult son with eating disorder, anxiety. She's trying to get him into a swim class. “It’s just so unfair that it’s what I have to do to put him there," she told me as she started to cry. "It should’ve been easier for me, you know? I have enough struggles.”— Jennifer Pagliaro (@jpags) March 6, 2019
Signups have been ongoing for the last several days in Toronto and many regions have already reached capacity. Today's registration is for Toronto/East York and West Toronto/York. The programs for kids range from all kinds of themed summer camps to special interest programs in arts, sports and other activities.
According to Pagliaro, the city planned to add 25,000 extra spots this year in response to the demand. Tens of thousands of people are already waitlisted. In years past, over 100,000 children get turned back. So, for the parents who have their heart set on getting their child into the city's subsidized rec programs, waiting outside in the extreme cold weather seems like the most effective route.
The city needs to add spaces. People shouldn’t have to wait in -21 degree weather to get a spot. Its pathetic.— Debbie (@deb393) March 6, 2019
It's shameful that parents had to spend the night outside community centers, at -20 degrees, to get spaces in programs! Over 100,000 children turned back each year; unacceptable! Success is not on-line registration, success is no person turned back from recreation programs. None.— G_Penalosa (@Penalosa_G) March 6, 2019