City moves on Crystal Pool design despite no assurance of grants

HCMA Architecture and Design has been awarded a $3.3-million contract for design and engineering of the new Crystal Pool and Wellness Centre replacement project.

Based in Victoria and Vancouver, HCMA has designed more than $200 million worth of aquatic facilities, including Vancouver’s Hillcrest Centre and Surrey’s Grandview Heights Aquatic Centre, which has recently won awards for accessibility, design and structural excellence.

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The $3.3-million contract is to be paid out over the course of the project based on deliverables in the design and planning stage through to construction and project completion, said city staff.

HCMA will now take the lead on the next phase of planning for the new facility, including further community engagement to develop a detailed design and a construction schedule.

The plan is to build the new facility in Central Park next to the existing Crystal Pool. The existing facility would remain open during construction.

Mayor Lisa Helps said the city isn’t getting ahead of itself by undertaking design before it has any confirmation of grants.

“All of the signals that we’ve got from the federal and provincial governments are: ‘Keep going. We want to fund projects that are ready to be built. We don’t want to fund projects that are ready to be studied,’ ” Helps said.

“I guess there’s a little bit of risk, but the risk of not having a project ready is greater because we’ve missed that opportunity for federal and provincial funding.”

In February, council voted unanimously to replace the nearly 50-year-old Crystal Pool complex with a new facility at a budgeted $69.4 million. The new facility would include a universally accessible pool and wellness centre.

The city has committed

$10 million from reserves, but is hoping to secure the balance in senior government grant funding, negating the need to go to a referendum for borrowing approval.

The mayor, who was in Ottawa last week and met with the Minister of Sport Kent Hehr, said “the signals are this is a good project.”

Helps said that a worst-case scenario would be that senior government funding isn’t announced until the third quarter of 2018. She’s expecting word much sooner than that. “The bilateral agreements are supposed to be signed by March. The federal government will be ready to spend as soon as that happens. It will be a case of how quickly the provincial government turns it around.”

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