A new splash pad is eyed for Victoria’s Centennial Square.
A report from city staff, to be discussed at Thursday’s committee of the whole meeting, recommends council amend the 2023 Financial Plan Bylaw (FPB) to allow funding for a new splash pad and commercial kiosk, as well as play elements, seating and other furniture at the square.
The recommended amendment calls for $750,000 for the Centennial Square Action Plan to cover consulting and design fees to complete the project, which would also include a renovated central plaza and staircase.
Staff say these improvements would enhance the square’s overall appeal, making it a more welcoming destination in the city’s downtown.
But with that comes “complex challenges,” staff say.
“The renewal of Centennial Square poses complex challenges both above and below ground due to the presence of utilities and other underground infrastructure installed over several decades,” according to the report.
“These factors, along with the Square’s urban location and adjacency to multiple office buildings and busy streets, necessitate careful planning of the design and construction.”
The potential upgrades may be good news to Coun. Matt Dell, who, when running for a seat on council in 2022, said he had a vision for a new Centennial Square as well as more public spaces, parks and amenities like a splash pad downtown.
It was in April when council approved a motion directing staff to report back on the impacts of applying a sequencing plan for parks and recreation projects. Then, staff identified two projects as “immediate priorities” requiring additional resources — the revitalization of the square, and the addition of a new swimming dock to the Gorge Inlet.
Staff say the dock, eyed for the southwest area of Gorge Marine Park, would be built and installed by the summer of 2024, with recommended funding of $300,000 to complete the project.
Victoria city staff, together with staff from the Township of Esquimalt, previously discussed the possibility of developing a dock at Arm Street Park. But after site assessments, they identified concerns relating to accessibility, environmental conditions and safety.
Gorge Marine Park, meanwhile, is adjacent to Banfield Park and offers a “viable option for additional swimming infrastructure to be delivered within the City’s desired timeline,” staff say.
Transport Canada previously granted the city a permit to create an “active recreational zone” in the marine park, prohibiting motorized vessels from entering the protected area.
“The width of the Gorge Waterway in this area allows for safe separation of swimmers, paddlers, and boats. Moreover, there are sufficient depths of water for recreational use during periods of low tide, unlike the shallow mudflats on the north side of the Gorge, adjacent to Arbutus Park,” reads the report.
Staff say the recommendations for Centennial Square and Gorge Marine Park, if approved by council, would amend the FPB and increase the city’s Capital Plan by $1.05 million, with funding from its Buildings and Infrastructure Reserve.
Meanwhile, a notice on the city’s website would invite interested people and organizations to ask council questions about the projects.
The complete report is here.