City of Victoria looking to strike a balance with Crystal Pool redevelopment


WATCH: The fate of the city’s largest current project, Crystal Pool, is still up in the air. Council is getting ready to clarify the future of the recreation centre redevelopment project on Thursday, Kori Sidaway reports.

Crystal Pool Recreation Centre is Karmen McNamara’s home away from home.

The semi-retired Team Canada Triathlete works out at Crystal Pool almost every day, and knows full well what kind of hub this is for the community.

“Right now this facility is operating at 22 percent over capacity . This facility is well used, there are 400,000 visits per year,” said McNamara.

Just from those numbers it’s clear, she’s not alone.

“I come once a week, sometimes twice,” said a senior pool regular.

“We come here 5 days a week at least at least. We’ve been members here, since we were little. It’s part of the family, said Steven Davis, another long time regular.

But, the future of this bustling community centre is up in the air. City council is set to decide on it’s future location, and there are a couple of options.

The current proposed location, with a design that’s essentially complete, would be situated on the south west corner of the existing North Park complex.

But there are three other locations council could decide to take a look at.

Neighbourhood associations are pressing hard for either the city parking lot on Quadra Street or Caledonia Avenue, so the old site could be kept entirely as green space.

The third possibility is demolishing the current complex and rebuilding on the exact footprint.

But that’s one idea that some aren’t excited for.

“I think it would be devastating for the community,” said McNamara.

“We need to find a solution that involves keeping the pool open while the new one is being constructed.”

Heading into Thursday, it’s something councilors are taking into consideration.

“I’d like to explore options on other city owned property that will allow us to preserve the park and expand it as well as make sure that we don’t have a long closure of the pool,” said North Park liaison and city councillor Jeremy Loveday.

New locations could mean new permits, grant applications and possibly some minor changes to the design.

By the end of 2019, the city will already be on the hook for $2 million which they’ve invested into project.

And to some, looking into other locations is necessarily making the process longer, and more expensive.

“Seventy million dollars is a lot of money, so hopefully they do it once, and have it done for another 50 years,” said Davis.

The city says they are taking that long term view.

“Once in a generation we get to make an investment like this in a wellness centre, and we have to get it right,” said Loveday.

If councillors do decide to explore the other locations, the analysis will take two months and cost an estimated $200,000.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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