City of Victoria assessing new locations for Crystal Pool

City of Victoria assessing new locations for Crystal Pool

WATCH: Plans for Victoria’s most expensive construction projects could be in for a last minute change. Just a weeks before the municipal election, council says it will take a fresh look at where to build a replacement for the Crystal Pool. The design for a new facility is just about complete, but some neighbours are unhappy with the project. Kori Sidaway reports.

Swimmers have been coming to this watering hole for over 40 years.

But Crystal Pool expecting a total facelift and the design for the $69.4 million new pool facility, right next door, is essentially complete.

But, after facing major pushback from the North Park community, councillors are taking a step back.

“We learned a lesson from the Johnson Street Bridge,” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps.

“Project planning is the most important part of the project. We’ve had some requests from the neighbourhood to look at other potential locations nearby to mitigate the impacts on other parts of the park, particularly during construction. So we’re going to do that.”

The project design is already two years into the planning process, and with the announcement coming just over a week before an election, some mayoral candidates are questioning the timing.

“This community has been asking for real consultation for a long time, and now just days before the election, the mayor has this epiphany that she needs to listen to the community,” said mayoral candidate Stephen Hammond.

“This is obviously electioneering because they’ve been facing such a significant backlash,” added mayoral candidate Bruce McGuigan.

But the incumbent mayor sees things differently.

“I’ve been working closely with neighbours for four years. That’s why I dispute that this is all electioneering,” said Helps.

“Three months ago we said there would be no net loss of green space, a month ago we said let’s look at different parking.”

As city staff figures out where the new pool should actually be, the bigger question is how it’ll get funded.

With an expected total budget of $69.4 million, $17 million has already been pledged by the city and various factions, leaving $52.4 million needed from the federal and provincial governments.

“The neighbourhood’s point is this is the biggest investment you’re ever going to make in our neighbourhood and we really want to have a say on this site,” said Helps.

“I think that’s fair, and that’s what we’re going to do moving forward.”

A report on the pool’s location will be submitted in two months time, but things won’t be crystal clear until the application for federal and provincial funding is approved s0metime after February of 2019.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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