Thursday, February 22, 2024

Crystal Pool’s ‘crumbling facility’ may finally get long-awaited replacement


Crystal Pool was built in 1971 and according to many community members and two city councillors, it has reached the end of its life as Victoria’s central recreation centre.

A motion was brought before the City of Victoria’s Committee of the Whole on February 9th by Councillors Jeremy Caradonna and Stephen Hammond.

Caradonna and Hammond’s motion states that facility assessments of Crystal Pool do not meet the current needs of the community members who use it. Concerns have been raised over its structural integrity in event of seismic activity and its mechanical systems being inefficient.

Crystal Pool accounts for 40% of the city’s emissions and its systems require constant maintenance that is costly to the city.

Some also say that the current Crystal Pool is inaccessible to some and the replacement would need to take non-able bodied persons into consideration.

Between 2016 and 2020, Crystal Pool was meant to get a replacement; however, this project was brought to a halt due to community disputes over equity, features and amenities and location.

“If previous councils had chosen to act decisively, today we would have a new Rec Centre to be proud of and that serves our whole community, in particular seniors and those with disabilities,” said Karmen McNamara, a concerned citizen. 

“Instead, we have a crumbling facility that is becoming more useless every day.”

This action proposed by Councillors Hammond and Caradonna will bring the wheels of a replacement facility back into motion by determining a new process to help community and councillors come to a consensus on the previously disputed issues. 

The Crystal Pool Replacement Project will likely be the most expensive undertaking ever pursued by the City of Victoria with an estimated cost of $70 million.

Given the cost of the project, the city must receive its electors approval through a referendum or some alternative approval process. 

For the time being, the councillors are recommending four things to the council:

  • Consulting city staff about implications and procedures to revive the replacement project and revamp the project to the present needs of community members
  • Seeking funding from provincial and federal governments to minimize costs to the City of Victoria
  • Identifying between two and four locations for the pool to be included on the referendum
  • Putting together a referendum as soon as possible to ask two questions:
    • If the public will support borrowing funds to build the pool?
    • Where it should be and what features it should have?

In the Thursday Committee of the Whole Meeting, city council voted unanimously in favour of the motion.

Next, the motion must be voted on once more in council, then city staff can begin working on the four points outlined in the motion. 

Are you in favour of the city replacing the aging facility? 

Curtis Blandy

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