City of Victoria wins $1-million grant toward new Crystal Pool

Victoria’s Crystal Pool replacement project has been awarded $1 million from Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities.

The Jumpstart funds will be used on features such as lifts for pool tanks, fully accessible change areas, and adaptive sport and fitness equipment, said director of parks Thomas Soulliere.

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“We are sincerely looking under every rock for every penny that we can find to limit the borrowing that we’ll need to do or the amount that the federal and provincial governments are going to need to consider,” said Mayor Lisa Helps of the grant.

“I was shocked because there were 200 projects that were submitted nationally and only three were awarded a $1-million grant. So the city was one of three out of 200,” Helps said.

Jumpstart Accessibility Grants support capital costs of construction and renovations to improve physical accessibility to, and inclusivity in recreation facilities.

The first of a five-year program, Crystal Pool and Wellness Centre project was one of nine inaugural recipients, organizers say.

Eligible organizations include municipalities and public recreation centres and facilities, schools and community organizations with publicly accessible facilities, and public recreation spaces owned and operated by private foundations.

Helps said the grant speaks well of the goal of making the centre accessible and is a testimony to the strength of the project.

She noted that the project is Rick Hansen Foundation certified and the city has members of the Rick Hansen Foundation as part of the project team.

Cost of the pool and wellness centre is estimated at $69.4 million.

The city, which would like to avoid major borrowing for the pool project, hopes the bulk of the cost will be covered by senior government grants.

The city has committed $10 million from reserves and so far the project has received $6 million from federal gas tax grants. But the gas tax funding is contingent on other funding being in place by March 31.

A report to city council said that the timing of the new federal government Investing in Canada grant program launched last month will make meeting deadlines tight.

“The timing of the social-infrastructure program, which applies to this project, is now anticipated to open for applications in late 2018 or early 2019, with decisions expected in the first half of 2019. The potential for funding confirmation occurring in mid-2019 does represent a later time frame than anticipated in the project schedule,” says the report.

It notes the province has said the social-infrastructure grant process will likely begin this year with decisions anticipated “in the first half of 2019.”

City staff warn if provincial and federal government funding is not secured by the end of February the projects will be exposed to cost increases in the range of $300,000 to $500,000 per month.

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