Some Victoria city councillors are leaning towards building a new $68.4-million facility to replace the aging Crystal Pool and Fitness Centre.
One of the recommendations put forward by staff to replace the 45-year-old pool on Quadra Street, includes constructing a new facility where the current basketball and tennis courts are.
The roughly 7,546-square-metre facility would include a fitness centre, multi-purpose rooms, a new leisure pool, as well universal change rooms at a cost of $68.4 million.
The building would have an approximate lifespan of 50 years.
It’s an option some councillors said they are leaning towards.
“(Option) number three seems to be the one that is most able to accommodate what folks have expressed as their needs and desires for this facility. When you crunch the numbers, it’s fairly comparable between option one and three,” said Coun. Marianne Alto.
Coun. Margaret Lucas is also leaning towards building a new facility, but hopes a decision can be made soon so they don’t have to close the existing pool for any length of time while the new one is being built.
Coun. Chris Coleman believes option three is the best value, but is not sure it’s one the city can afford. He noted council must do its due diligence to explore all options to reduce the overall cost to taxpayers in the end.
“The danger is we’re talking about what we like and it’s actually what makes sense to the public. Have we done as much as we can to bring the cost factor down?” he said. “I think what we will hear predominantly in the beginning is we don’t want an option that closes the facility somewhere between 10 months to two years.”
For the past 15 years, the city has mulled potential options for the facility that staff describe as “at the end of its useful life.” Staff put forward two other options to council during a meeting Thursday as well.
The first option would be a retrofit of the existing 5,700-square-metre facility, including systems upgrades, as well as expanding and improving fitness facilities and accessibility, adding family and gender neutral change rooms, adding an elevator for accessibility and expanding the lobby, at a cost of $40 million.
The second option would be a major renovation and expansion to 7,469 square metres, adding new multi-purpose rooms, expanding the fitness space, making the building more accessible and adding a leisure pool at a cost of $56 million.
The first two options would require the existing facility to be closed for 12 to 20 months during construction, but would extend the life of the building by roughly 30 years.
Of the total project cost, $10 million would come from the city’s buildings and infrastructure reserve, while the remainder would be borrowed externally. Staff are also exploring federal and provincial grant programs to get funding.
In order to borrow funding the city must hold a referendum. Council has not made a decision on what option to pursue and have sent the report back to staff to gather more information regarding asbestos, parking, transportation, affordable housing options and looking at ways to work with non-profit recreation providers.