Victoria to ponder parking options for new Crystal Pool

Victoria will investigate parking options for a new Crystal Pool in Central Park while consulting with neighbours about the possibility of using the streets.

Councillors agreed Thursday to allocate $40,000 to examine the possibility of building underground parking that could be topped with green space.

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They also directed staff to consider using the parking lot at nearby Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.

In July, councillors decided there should be no net loss of green space in Central Park, where the $70 million replacement for Crystal Pool is to be built.

Staff say the existing Crystal Pool, associated hardscape and parking lot occupy about 7,040 square metres or about 22 per cent of the park. That means the new facility and parking area also shouldn’t exceed 22 per cent of the park.

That’s a tight squeeze. Consultants say about 140 parking stalls are probably needed for the new facility but the “no net loss” decision means there’s only room for a parking lot with about 20 stalls.

Coun. Pam Madoff said the consultation the city does over the issue of parking and park use is critical.

“I think we did an excellent job of engagement with the pool users. I think the part that we missed was the park users. We have to put an equal amount of sincerity and interest into that process about park users and the surrounding residents,” Madoff said, adding the goal is “to end up with a park with a pool not a pool with a park.”

Mayor Lisa Helps agreed.

“I think the reason we were so fixated and staff were so fixated on the pool was we didn’t want to have another Johnson Street Bridge.

“This is our next big capital project and we wanted it to go perfectly, so we only looked at the situation from the point of view of city hall and not from the point of view of the residents.”

Helps said the investigation of underground parking should include the possibility of adding spaces that could generate revenue through monthly rental.

Coun. Jeremy Loveday, council liaison to the neighbourhood, recommended staff go door-to-door in soliciting neighbourhood input about a “distributed” model that would see the bulk of the pool parking pushed to Queens and Pembroke streets, which border the park.

“I feel that this is one of those decisions that, if this is the route that council goes, that some people will be very taken aback if they don’t have a face to face discussion about it,” Loveday said.

City staff say the distributed parking approach would consist of three components:

• A 20-stall surface lot in Central Park near the pool entrance.

• Expanding street parking capacity on Queens and Pembroke streets to 143 stalls from the existing 91, at an estimated cost of $900,000.

• Providing pool users access to existing parking lots at nearby Royal Athletic Park and Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre.

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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