Those wanting to dive into B.C.’s first Family Day holiday on Monday will be greeted with locked doors at Victoria’s Crystal Pool.
Family Day is being treated the same as other statutory holidays, which means the pool is closed, said Kate Friars, the city’s director of parks and recreation.
“It’s a stat. We close on stats,” Friars said. “It’s been our long-standing practice to do that, mainly for cost reasons.”
Friars said it would probably cost the city more than $2,000 to staff Crystal Pool for eight hours on the Monday holiday and it might receive $500 to $750 in revenue.
But the closing is raising eyebrows on city council.
Several councillors were unaware until told by the Times Colonist that Crystal Pool would be closed on Monday, even though neighbouring municipalities will open their rec centres on the holiday.
“That sucks,” said Victoria Coun. Lisa Helps.
“If we’re closing on Family Day for cost reasons, then we’re obviously, as a city, doing something wrong in terms of how we’re managing our costs. Because while all the other communities have the money to support healthy families and healthy communities, we’re in some austere period where we can’t even do that,” she said.
“So, to me, it’s a larger question of how do we want to spend the limited resources we have?” Helps said.
Coun. Chris Coleman agreed the move sends an odd message. “But that’s the policy we’ve gone with. I think it will foster some discussion at the council table.”
Coun. Shellie Gudgeon said the policy of closing on stat holidays needs to be re-examined.
“I think it’s fundamentally important that our recreation centres are open more often than they are closed,” Gudgeon said.
“I think there are creative ways to contain the costs — by having management work and having new employees and new hires work with management.”
Coun. Ben Isitt agreed that Victoria should try to open recreation facilities on holidays.
“It’s no secret the city faces substantial budgetary pressures, but that said, I think we have to do everything we can to ensure that recreation remains accessible to families and particularly to low-income residents,” Isitt said.
Recreation centres in Saanich, Oak Bay, Esquimalt, the West Shore, Sooke and the Saanich Peninsula will be open — and most will host special Family Day swims and Family Day skates.
Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard said his council has nothing to do with operating hours or programming other than what is broadly set out.
“The tone from the top is [for] community programs, a healthy community and [to] look for opportunities to engage all age groups and all incomes. So the tone at the top is consistent with what management are doing at the front line,” Leonard said.
“But we don’t involve ourselves with what class or what event [is offered].”
Premier Christy Clark announced the new statutory holiday last May.
Greater Victoria libraries are closed Family Day. Victoria Regional Transit will operate on a Saturday schedule but with no late-night runs.
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