When extreme heat envelops the City of Toronto it is easy to come up with more reasons to stay indoors if you have air conditioning than it is to go outside – unless you live in the Beach.
For decades people have flocked to our sandy beaches for relief when outdoor temperatures soar. Today many of our local supervised beaches are part of the Blue Flag program representing high standards of water quality, making a swim in the lake even more inviting.
The internationally-recognized program involves testing the water of participating beaches across the city daily for E. coli bacteria, from June to August. You can check the quality of Toronto’s beaches at app.toronto.ca/tpha/beaches.html. Past swimming conditions for the beaches can also be viewed.
Here are some other places where you can stay cool in the Beach when extreme heat and humidity strike and when air quality is poor, something particularly important for seniors and people with respiratory and heart conditions.
If you live near Gerrard or the Danforth and feel like the weather is too hot for a walk, consider strolling along the boardwalk for a change, where you can enjoy a refreshing breeze off the lake. Remember to wear sunscreen and stay in the shade when possible while you are there, as the cooler air can mask the strength of the sun; stay hydrated by drinking water.
Public outdoor pools
When is the last time you took advantage of the opportunity to swim in an Olympic-size outdoor pool so close to home it is like having one in your back garden? The Donald D. Summerville outdoor Olympic pool complex at Woodbine Park features a 50-metre Olympic-size pool, a 25-metre training pool and a separate diving pool. Admission is free. The facility has an elevator, should you want to avoid stairs in the heat. Presently the complex is operating on part-time hours: Monday to Friday from 4 to 8 p.m.; Saturday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., with a maintenance closure from 4 to 5 p.m. and an adults-only swim from 7 to 8 p.m. Beginning Canada Day, the pool will be open every day from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Toronto’s seven cooling centres are open during extreme heat alerts. The closest cooling centre to the Beach is the East York Civic Centre at 850 Coxwell Ave. Located on the north-west corner of Coxwell and Mortimer, the centre is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. when the City issues an extreme heat alert, until the City declares the alert is over. Note, the only cooling centre in operation 24 hours a day during an extreme heat alert is located at Metro Hall at 55 John St., south of King Street West. Pets are welcome though owners are responsible to keep them on a leash. All cooling centres are accessible by public transit. For more information visit www.toronto.ca/health/heatalerts/ beatheat_ac_places.htm.
An entertaining way to pass time in the comfort of an air-conditioned environment is by taking in a movie at one of our local theatres: the Fox Theatre at 2236 Queen St. E. at Beech Avenue, and the Beach Cinemas on Queen just east of Coxwell. In neighbouring Leslieville you can watch a movie outside while enjoying a cool breeze from the lake at the Polson Pier drive-in theatre, at Polson and Cherry Streets, south of Lakeshore Boulevard.
Enjoy reading an interesting book or participating in a local library event at our local air-conditioned branches, located at Queen and Lee, Main and Gerrard, and Danforth east of Coxwell. All operate with regular hours during the summer: Monday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Friday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and closed on Sundays.
Community Centre 55
Seniors walking by Centre 55 at 97 Main St. are welcome to drop in to cool down in the centre’s air conditioned seating area and have some water.
Air-conditioned shopping centres
Enclosed shopping centres are a convenient place to walk and run errands within the comfort of an air-conditioned area. Options include a cluster of stores at the corner of Leslie and Lakeshore and Gerrard Square near Pape.
Do you know a great place in the Beach for seniors to stay cool? Share it in the comments.