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John Tory calls sign up process for city rec programs 'insane'

Registration day for recreational programs provided by the city is a big deal for Torontonians, which is why the mayor has made it a priority to ensure signing up online is easier than ever.

'We've got to replace the system,' mayor says as registration is underway in Toronto

Toronto Mayor John Tory says the current system used by the city for the online registration of recreational programs is 18 years old and a new one is needed. (CBC)

Registration day for recreational programs provided by the city is a big deal for Torontonians, which is why the mayor has made it a priority to ensure signing up online is easier than ever. 

Registration is already underway in Toronto with some districts starting the sign up process last weekend. 

It's the one chance for many lower income families to get their children into the fun activities that will occupy their summer. That's why Mayor John Tory said overhauling the city's website is necessary to ensure it works efficiently and effectively for all residents.

I think there are substantial improvements that can be made in the mean time.- Mayor John Tory

"Bottom line is we've left a system in place ... for almost 20 years," Tory said Wednesday on CBC Radio's Metro Morning. "We've got to replace the system."

The mayor told host Matt Galloway that next to transit, registering for recreational programs is the single most mentioned issue he hears about.

"It's a mad rush that happens," he said, adding that people want access to services in a "reasonable manner."

'The programs are fantastic'

An entirely new website is expected to come in 2017 but the mayor said there are things that can be done now.

"I think there are substantial improvements that can be made in the mean time," he said. "I'm determined to keep the whip on this."

Many people receive error messages while trying to use the 18-year-old computer system. That's why Hani Afrah say she wakes up at 2 a.m. to line up for programs on registration day. 

"It's insane," the mayor said. "People shouldn't have to line up at 2 a.m."

Others say they're constantly hitting redial and refresh on their phones and computers without much success. With every passing minute, less and less spots are available for children to partake in recreational programs. 

The mayor acknowledged demand is strong due to the quality of services provided by the city. 

"The programs are fantastic," Tory noted, "but there are still lots of programs that never fill up."

The mayor said he hopes reallocating resources and pressing the issue of a much-needed online revamp will make the registration process easier for many Torontonians.

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