Guelph’s swimming attire policy: official statement

On Saturday, June 20 a lifeguard working at Exhibition Park asked the parents of an eight-year-old girl to put the girl’s top on while she was using the wading pool.

We apologize that the event caused the little girl to feel singled out or embarrassed; that was not the intent of the employee who acted appropriately based on the City’s swimming attire policy.

We want everyone to enjoy Guelph’s parks and pools, and we believe the policy has helped us provide safe enjoyable recreation facilities for people of all walks of life, and balances the needs of women, men, children, swimming instructors, lifeguards and other recreation staff.

Since Saturday, we’ve received a lot of diverse feedback about the part of the policy that requires girls above the age of four to wear a swimming top. Some people support the policy while others feel it no longer meets their needs. The City’s challenge is to find a reasonable balance that serves our community.

As the complex subject of children’s dress codes is being discussed and debated around the world, the City of Guelph must consider its role and responsibilities as the owner of public facilities, a provider of recreation programs for people of all ages, and an employer of teens and adults.

Suspending and reviewing part of the swimming attire policy

In response to community feedback, the City of Guelph will review the section of the swimming attire policy related to swimming tops. During the review, the City will not enforce this section of the policy.

As part of the policy review, the City will consult other municipalities, schools and institutions across the province including Parks and Recreation Ontario, the Life Saving Society and the Red Cross. We’ll also gather input from recreation patrons and the community at large, and ensure any proposed changes comply with applicable legislation.

More information about how people can participate in the policy review will be communicated in the weeks ahead. We appreciate your patience as we develop our community engagement plan, and we hope you’ll participate in this opportunity to help the City determine its role in providing safe enjoyable recreation facilities for people of all walks of life.

This summer and year round, our lifeguards, swimming instructors, summer camp and other recreation staff want to help you and your children make friends, learn skills and have fun.


Kristene Scott
General Manager, Parks and Recreation
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 2007

Media contact

Michelle Rickard
Communications Officer, Corporate Communications
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 2283