NEWS

City rec program sign up continues to stress out parents

09/10/2014 03:42 EDT | Updated 11/10/2014 05:59 EST
Rebecca Armstrong woke up Wednesday morning well before 7 a.m. to sign up her two daughters for pottery and swimming classes.

It's a yearly ritual for parents in the city, and not one they generally look forward to. The registration process has been fraught with problems due to popularity and the city's combination in-person, online and phone system.

Armstrong's efforts netted some positive results. She couldn't get exactly the classes she wanted, so she put the three- and five-year-olds in the same swimming class. She says you have to be organized before registration starts if you are going to get a spot for your children.

There is some preparation involved. Parents must obtain an account, which requires them to fill out a form. Then they must obtain family and client numbers to both register and track the programs they sign up for. And finally each program has its own unique code.

Armstrong says it's very stressful to register.

"You have to keep going online, and it takes lots of perseverance," she said.

But compared to years past, when parents had to physically wait in line or stay on hold on the phone, the city says its online system is progress.

The city says 22,000 children were registered in the first hour of the programs' registration opening.

Of those 22,000, the city says 94 per cent registered online or over the phone. "Those people never left the comfort of the their house — they were probably still in pajamas, and then had a coffee with their family. So if you compare where we were in the mid 1980s, it's far better and equitable to the family and kids than it was 20 years ago," says Mark Lawson, Manager of Customer Service, City of Toronto Parks and Recreation Department.

Registrations roll throughout Toronto areas all this week. The city says 120,000 children have been registered for programs so far this week.

Some parents called Wednesday morning a repeat of past years.

"Another super stressful registration morning for Toronto Parks and Recs program," said Giulia Greco on Twitter.

Other parents expressed relief at the ease of the process.

"We finally got into the online Toronto registrations within 5 minutes for the first time in 4 years!! It usually takes 30-90 minutes," said parent Bobby Umar on Twitter.

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