Universal change rooms coming to Crystal Pool

It's something that many Victoria city councillors agreed should have been completed years ago.

It’s something that many Victoria city councillors agreed should have been completed years ago.

Now, the City of Victoria is moving forward with plans to build universal change rooms at Crystal Pool, after council recently approved a staff motion to renovate the pool’s current change room facilities.

“Frankly, this work should have been done years ago,” said Coun. Jeremy Loveday, during the Thursday meeting. “We need to move forward with these upgrades.”

The Crystal Pool and Fitness Centre was originally opened in 1971 and was built with women’s and men’s change rooms and washrooms, but currently has no family or universal change rooms or washrooms. In 2015, an existing room in the centre was repurposed into a temporary change space.

According to a report, there are approximately 150 visitors each week who utilize the temporary space, and over the years staff have received numerous requests for a universal washroom and family change area that would also include a wheelchair accessible shower, toilet and change table.

The universal change rooms will be constructed at a cost of $60,000, despite the uncertain future of the aging facility.

However, most councillors defended the cost, saying it’s the city’s obligation to provide accessible facilities that all residents feel comfortable using.

Coun. Chris Coleman called it a “worthy expenditure” that will be well-used in the next few years.

We should be using the investment so all users feel comfortable coming to Crystal Pool,” he said.

In December, staff brought forward three options to replace or renovate the 46-year-old facility, which included renovating the current space, renovating and expanding the space, or constructing an entirely new facility.

Mayor Lisa Helps said depending on what option council decides to go with, the city could get roughly three to three-and-a-half years use out of the new universal change rooms.

“If we were having a conversation whether to update or fix men’s or women’s washrooms, we wouldn’t have a conversation, we would just do it, it’s necessary,” she said. “It’s a necessary expense, just as a men’s washroom or a women’s washroom would be.”

In September, Brittany Remington, a transgender woman, said she was humiliated by pool staff after she was denied access to both the men’s and women’s change rooms, and was forced to change in a first-aid room instead.

The renovations will take place in September, when the pool is closed for normal maintenance, and is expected to take four to six weeks to complete.