Despite looming budget deadlines or the fact that design plans for the new Crystal Pool and Wellness Centre are almost complete, Victoria City Council directed staff to look into building the pool at alternative locations.
The original plan was to build the new pool in Central Park, adjacent to the current facility. This would allow the public to access the current pool for the two years it is estimated to take to build the new pool.
However, after receiving push back from North Park residents about a lack of consultation, Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps and Coun. Jeremy Loveday motioned to investigate into other options.
“For North Park residents this is the biggest investment we’re ever going to make for their neighbourhood, and we want it to be done right,” Helps said. “It may be that it’s in the best place that it’s proposed to be right now, but it may also be that through this study that there’s a better location. This is the right time to do the work before the grant application has gone in.”
In a letter to the Committee of the Whole signed by Helps and Loveday it was noted that trust between the City and the North Park Community has “eroded” from a lack of engagement, and that in hindsight “it would have been a good idea for pool and park engagement to go hand in hand.”
Council directed that City staff compare the costs and benefits of building the new facility as currently proposed versus keeping the facility at the existing location, and have even proposed options outside of the park–including the property next to the Victoria Curling Club. Council also directed staff to investigate into parking options for each location.
Helps said that North Park residents have many unanswered questions, and that City staff will work with them to come up with the most agreed-upon designs.
If the pool were built at its current site, residents would not have access to the pool for at least two years, with the closest alternative being the YMCA location on Broughton Street, something Helps acknowledged as a difficult decision.
“Either we’re not going to have a pool for two years, or we’re not going to have a park as we know it for two years,” Helps said. “We’re trying to balance competing needs and have to go with the best option.”
Helps says despite the added tasks, the City still hopes to have all of its grant applications for the pool in by January 2019.
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