City makes it official: Tops no longer mandatory for girls at pools
A rule which sparked a major outcry last summer is officially off the books in Guelph.
For many years, it had been mandatory for any girl aged four or older to wear a top while using city pools.
The rule spared accusations of sexism in 2015, after an eight-year-old girl was ordered to put on a top or leave the pool at Exhibition Park.
City officials eventually agreed to review the rule.
That review is now complete, and the city no longer mandates tops for girls and women using its pools.
Instead, the rules call for “appropriate” attire – meaning something that is clean and covers at least the swimmer’s bottom.
While councillors were not involved in the review of the rule, Coun. Mark MacKinnon said in an interview that he thought staff had made an “excellent decision” by adopting a policy that treats all people the same way.
“Whether it’s a girl or a boy, man or a woman, everyone gets to decide for themselves what is appropriate attire,” he said.
As part of the review, city officials looked at pool attire standards in a dozen other communities, including Waterloo Region’s three cities and Milton.
What they found, MacKinnon said, is that most cities didn’t mandate tops for girls or women of any age – and the absence of such a rule didn’t lead to significant volumes of either complaints or nudity at municipal pools.
For Anika Warmington, the stepmother of the eight-year-old who touched off the controversy, news of the change was welcome information.
“I’m really happy,” she said in an interview.
“I have always seen Guelph as a more progressive community, so I was surprised to see that policy in place to begin with.”