The Crystal Pool, a swimming and fitness facility on Quadra Street near Bay has been voted to be replaced by Victoria councillors, rather than refurbished.
The City of Victoria will leave the final decision to Victoria taxpayers to approve or reject the borrowing of needed funds.
Refurbishing the 45-year-old facility is projected to cost $40.9 million, while the new build would cost about $69.4 million.
If the new build gets the green light, $10 million will come from the City’s Buildings and Infrastructure Reserve, and the remainder would be generated through a combination of external borrowing and other funding.
These recommendations have largely been approved but will receive final approval at the February 23rd Council meeting. It will then go to a referendum for Victoria voters to decide.
Mayor Lisa Helps listed several factors that contributed to “a very clear case”, including:
- Refurbishment would have meant closing the existing facility for about two years
- Long term, replacement offers better value
- A new facility is projected to attract more users.
The facility, which debuted in 1971, also isn’t very wheel-chair accessible.
“It’s just not designed for the way we use facilities today,” said Thomas Soulliere, Victoria’s director of parks, recreation and facilities.
The facility is the only public pool in the City of Victoria and gets roughly 400,000 visits every year. It is relied on heavily for swim teams, sports clubs, and community groups.
Refurbishing the current facility would be mean closing the pool for an estimated two years, which would certainly take a toll on those community members.
Overall, the pool has been helping the community stay active for over 45 years, and is based in “Central Park”, a full block community space equipped with tennis and basketball courts, baseball and soccer fields, an outdoor fitness set, and a park for young children.
Should voters approve, construction on a new pool would start in mid-2018.