Victoria keeps original design for Crystal Pool replacement, location still up in the air

Victoria keeps original design for Crystal Pool replacement, location still up in the air
WatchIt's the City of Victoria's only swimming pool and it's on its last legs. But there's still no news on when -- or where -- its replacement will be built. City councillors, however, did decide one thing today: No more studies. Jasmine Bala has more.

Victoria City Council is sending staff out one more time to look at all possible sites for the new swimming pool and fitness centre.

Council unanimously approved a motion during Thursday’s committee meeting to select a site for the Crystal Pool replacement project next month.

“Essentially saying that we need to pick a site, talk to the community about that site and then build the pool,” said Coun. Ben Isitt.

The motion, moved by Isitt, directs city staff to report back on Feb. 6 with information on five potential sites: the current location at 2275 Quadra St., the park next to it, Central Middle School field, the parking lot at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre and the city-owned parking lot at 940 Caledonia Ave.

The discussion over the location of the new pool has now spanned three years, with the city spending $2.2 million of their $10 million budget so far.

Designs for a new facility were nearly complete back in 2018, placing the new pool right next to the old one. Council has decided to use that design regardless of where they decide to build the pool.

“What council is saying today in response to the public is we will build a swimming pool, we will not do another study,” said Mayor Lisa Helps. “And I’m very happy with that decision.”

Isitt’s motion came after a presentation by staff recommending another feasibility study with a price tag of $725,000. However, that won’t be happening.

“Council members felt it was too costly in terms of money and delay and so no council member proposed moving forward with that,” Isitt explained.

The motion also specifically asks staff to examine the 940 Caledonia Ave. parking lot, located next to the Royal Athletic Park.

“For me, that does jump out as a site we should look at,” said Isitt. “I definitely would prefer to build a swimming poll on a parking lot rather than within a park that the neighbourhood loves and cherishes.”

But that parking lot is loved by another group of people — those going to events in the area.

“It’s used for hockey games, the Royals, and for concerts at the Save On Foods Arena as well as for things at our park as well,” said Jim Swanson, managing partner of the Victoria HarbourCats. “Not just the HarbourCats but other things that go on throughout the year.”

During these events, there’s no shortage of people. And the parking lot of 300 spaces? “It’s full. It’s full for that, it’s full for Royals games, world junior hockey championship last year, it’s full for the major concerts,” Swanson explained.

Isitt says adding more parking spaces is something the city would be considering if they do decide to use the parking lot as the location for the new facility. It might look like a parking deck at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre, underground parking, or more street parking, he added.

Jasmine BalaJasmine Bala

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