Councillors vote to move forward with possible city-owned sites including Crystal Gardens
Opened in 1925, Victoria’s Crystal Gardens started life as the largest salt water swimming pool in the British Empire.
That’s where the actor who played Tarzan, Johnny Weissmuller, set a world indoor record in the 100 yard freestyle that year.
Now part of the Victoria Conference Centre, the city is taking a look at yet another transformation for the building: as a casino.
“There is always attractive enclosure of the Crystal Gardens, with the inviting possibilities of a quiet cup of tea.”
A hit when it opened in 1925.
“Or even a dip in the clear salt-waters of the swimming pool.”‘
It’s had several lives in the past 91 years.
As a exotic animal conservation centre with flamingos and pygmy monkeys.
Now as part of the Victoria Conference Centre, it hosted 175 events in 2015.
“All those in favour of the motion.
All those opposed.
There are three opposed, six in favour.
We’ll move forward on the next step.”
In 2015, BC Lottery Corporation asked municipalities near the core area if they wanted to be considered for a casino.
It’s considering locating a second casino closer to downtown Victoria than the one in View Royal.
Victoria put forward the Crystal Gardens.
“We’re standing up and saying to BC Lottery Corporation, alongside Saanich, we’re in.
Keep us in the running.
And let us know what you think.”
Some Ben Isitt voted against the proposal.
“I don’t think that Victoria needs a casino.
And I haven’t heard from a single City of Victoria resident who wants a casino.
So, for that reason I couldn’t support the decision that was in front of us today.”
“And be careful, that’s the hot sauce in the corner.”
Bintou Toure serves up a late lunch for a customer.
Since opening her African restaurant, Le Petit Dakar in the Crystal Gardens building five years ago, business is a struggle.
“There is no big traffic in this area.
If the casino come in with their own business, so how are we going to survive here?”
And tourists, like Steve Schmidt from Kansas, seem to agree.
“Casinos are for certain places.
I don’t think in an old historic place like this, I don’t think there would that much of an advantage for anybody.”
The city’s proposal would include the casino, and a hotel for the Apex lot, now used as a rental car lot adjacent to the Crystal Garden.
A long way from the facility’s original purpose.