WATCH: Decision on where to build a new Crystal Pool in Victoria still up in the air after City Council adds another option. Tess van Straaten reports.
With 400,000 visits a year, Victoria’s Crystal Pool is a popular place but politicians aren’t diving into a final decision on the future of the pool anytime soon.
“We’re working as hard as we can to come up with the best decision we can to serve the most people possible at a reasonable cost,” says Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps.
City Council was supposed to vote on one of the four options on the table for a replacement pool location — the Victoria Curling Club parking lot, the Royal Athlete Park parking lot, the south-west corner of Central Park beside the current pool, or tearing down and rebuilding the existing pool, which would mean pool users would have nowhere to go during construction.
But after lots of debate and multiple amendments, Council is now exploring another option — the land around Save-on-Foods Memorial Arena.
“These are the decisions no one wants to make but we were elected to make these decisions in the interest of the community for the long term and that’s what we’re going to do over the next few months,” says Helps.
Helps says the first step is reaching out to RG Properties, which has the contract for the city-owned land, to see if building the pool complex there could work.
Staff were also directed to proceed with an application in the works for federal funding, which is due in January and based on building the new pool in Central Park.
But that didn’t sit well with area residents who don’t want to lose the green space.
“This thing has momentum and I fear that we’re going to just go ahead with what we have,” a member of the North Park Residents’ Association told CHEK News after the council meeting Thursday.
“It is disappointing,” another man added. “I do not like the idea we have to eliminate any of our ideals and madly rush ahead to achieve federal funding or provincial funding.”
But with the project pegged at $69.4 million — and growing each month construction is delayed — Council wants to capitalize on infrastructure funding.
“Everyone has projects so the first projects through the initial funding gate are the ones that are most likely to be funded,” Helps explains. “There is not an infinite amount of money available for infrastructure.”
Another motion was also raised to use the RAP parking lot for affordable housing, with a child care centre and other amenities on the main floor and underground parking.
The mayor says federal and provincial housing funds could be utilized to build the housing complex and the city could provide the land, as it has for similar projects currently in the works.
It’s not yet clear when a final decision will be made.