The City of Victoria’s Crystal Pool and Fitness Centre, now 45 years old, needs replacement or upgrading. City council discussed some of the options Thursday at their committee of the whole meeting. Photo contributed

Plans for Victoria’s Crystal Pool envision a community hub

Staff update council on multi-million dollar project, including the potential for no referendum

A strong, barrier-free and inclusive space for the community to gather. That’s how the City of Victoria envisions a new Crystal Pool and Wellness Centre.

Over the past five months, city staff have worked on plans to replace the aging Crystal Pool and Fitness Centre on Quadra Street, establishing communications and engagement protocols, and developing a design and construction delivery model.

“This project is more than just building new infrastructure. It’s very much about building a strong, more inclusive community,” said Thomas Soulliere, city director of parks, recreation and facilities. “We feel we’re positioning this project for success.”

Project managers have also established preliminary designs for a facility that would be built over the existing tennis and basketball courts on the southwest corner of Central Park. Planned features include a competition length 50-metre pool, hot tub, sauna and steam room, universal change rooms and washrooms, a fitness centre and four multi-purpose rooms.

RELATED: Future of Crystal Pool left up to the public.

Learning from the controversial Johnson Street Bridge project, city staff have implemented a framework to apply to future capital projects, including the identification and management of risk – anything that could delay or push a project over budget.

Staff have already identified and prioritized a number of risks regarding the Crystal Pool project, to be presented to council in a risk management workshop in the coming months. The work done so far, especially around risk management, has put some councillors at ease.

“It certainly gives me a great deal of confidence to see a team that has gone through some very stringent procedures,” Coun. Margaret Lucas said during discussions on the project at a committee of the whole meeting Thursday.

Councillors also emphasized the need for some type of café or food service that would add to the overall community feel of the facility. Coun. Ben Isitt said growing up in Winnipeg, he and his family would go to the local pool and afterward enjoy soup and a sandwich. He said similar options should be available at the new facility.

A public referendum would be necessary should the city need to borrow funds for the facility’s construction. But staff have identified a number of potential funding sources including the Investing in Canada Plan, and $6 million from the Gas Tax fund that would render a referendum unnecessary.

In December, staff recommended three options for renovating or replacing Crystal Pool. They included renovating the existing facility at a cost of $40 million, renovating and expanding it for $56 million, or building a new facility estimated to cost $69 million, an option many councillors leaned towards at the time.

In the coming months, staff will work on the procurement process, construction management, developing refined design and cost estimates and determining funding options.

kendra.wong@vicnews.com