Victoria council delays decision on Crystal Pool and green-space restrictions

Victoria councillors will formally hear from North Park Neighbourhood Association representatives before making any decision on where or how to locate a replacement for Crystal Pool.

Councillors Thursday referred the matter, including a proposal that any new city infrastructure not be built on green space, to their June 13 committee meeting.

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Councillors also agreed to suspend their committee rules of procedure to hear from the North Park Neighbourhood Association at a June 6 meeting.

Victoria has been looking for a site for a new pool complex since council abandoned the idea of building it in Central Park adjacent to the existing pool.

After the city spent $2 million on design for a new pool in the park, concerns from neighbours about loss of green space and potential parking impacts prompted council to talk to RG Properties about locating the new pool on the Save On Foods Memorial Centre parking lot.

Unable to reach a deal, city staff were directed to explore other options that might include complementary uses such as affordable housing, green space, child care and parking.

That resulted in a staff proposal to investigate putting the new pool on the playing field west of Central Middle School.

But conversations with neighbourhood groups have resulted in “a consistent message sent to city council that existing parks shouldn’t be reduced by building any type of facilities inside the parks,” said Coun. Marianne Alto.

Alto and Coun. Sharmarke Dubow had proposed in a motion Thursday that council not build a pool on any existing green space and that it apply a number of evaluative tools including affordability, inclusion and equity in finding sites for new city facilities, including the pool replacement.

But the discussion got bogged down when Coun. Jeremy Loveday proposed a number of amendments, including that the pool site not involve any “net” loss of greens space, and that only the North Park or Hillside/Quadra neighbourhoods be considered for a replacement pool site.

Central Middle School is technically in Fernwood, on the border with Rockland.

“I think the Hillside/Quadra neighbourhood is a potential site that we should be looking at. There are publicly owned land that could potentially be a site and that we adopt a goal of no net loss of publicly owned green space,” Loveday said.

Ultimately, councillors decided to refer the matter to its June 13 committee meeting after hearing from North Park residents on June 6.

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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