Updated: Jun 21
On May 2, the City advised that efforts to locate the new Crystal Pool on the arena parking lot (city-owned land managed by RG Properties) had failed. A staff report to Council recommended two alternate sites: Royal Athletic Parking lot and Central Middle School playing field.
A group response was provided to the Mayor on May 5, representing the North Park, Hillside/Quadra, Downtown and Fernwood neighbourhood associations, as well as the George Jay Parents Advisory Committee. This response (below) asked the City to delay discussions about these two alternate sites for two weeks, and instead convene a meeting of a wide range of stakeholders.
GROUP MESSAGE TO COUNCIL – May 6, 2019
At $80 million, the Crystal Pool replacement project is the most significant capital investment in community services and livability we will make for generations to come. We are concerned that moving the pool facility out of walking distance from the lowest income and most underserved residents of our city (Hillside/Quadra, Burnside Gorge, North Park) – will remove the bulk of the social good that needs to come from this massive investment. We ask that an equity approach be paramount in determining the best site and amenities for this project.
We ask the City to postpone discussions about the Central Middle School site for two weeks. In the interim we ask the City to call a stakeholder meeting that would include Senior Staff and community organizations such as the neighbourhood associations, community centres, the YM/YWCA, swim club leaders, SD61 staff and Parent Advisory Committees.
The Downtown, Hillside/Quadra, North Park and Fernwood neighbourhood associations, as well as the George Jay Parents Advisory Council, are concerned that we have not been given the opportunity to be involved in any discussions about the Crystal Pool since last fall, and only found out about the City’s new preferred site at Central Middle School a few days ago.
It is vital that the new facility continues to be easily accessible by foot for the most under-served and low income residents of the city, who primarily live in our northern neighbourhoods. Residents in the southern neighbourhoods of Victoria are more likely to have vehicles, and currently have easy access to the Oak Bay Recreation Centre and pool
We ask that the City considering redirecting the $260,000 earmarked for the Central Middle School field feasibility study to a preliminary Recreation Master Plan – a document that is a requirement of the Official Community Plan, but isn’t on their workplan the next few years, but seems like a critical planning tool to make sure the right facility is built in the right place.. This preliminary study would analyze existing facilities throughout all neighbourhoods, analyze socio economic data at the neighbourhood level, and apply an equity and inclusivity approach to engagement in order to identify service gaps. It would also develop clear and transparent criteria for selecting a site and amenities for the new public recreation facility.