City staff are requesting $725,000 to conduct a feasibility study for the new Crystal Pool and Wellness facility. (Black Press Media file photo)

Victoria staff request $725,000 to plan for new Crystal Pool facility

Staff are starting over after $2.2 million already spent on designs

City staff are starting over on the planning process for a new Crystal Pool and Wellness facility.

In a report coming to the committee of the whole on Thursday, Thomas Soulliere, director of Parks, Recreation and Facilities requests the approval of $725,000 in funding to conduct a feasibility study and to create a Project Advisory Group (PAG) to help navigate the decisions.

The feasibility study would include finding an optimal site, engaging in public consultation and confirming the design and cost estimates. The study is estimated to take between 14 and 16 months. The PAG would be comprised of up to 15 community stakeholders and would be established in the next few months.

ALSO READ: Victoria city staff start from square one on Crystal Pool project

In 2017, council approved $10 million for the project, of which $2.2 million was already used in the first rendition of the plans. In the initial designs, staff identified the southwest corner of Central Park as the location for the new pool.

However, in 2018 council heard from the North Park Neighbourhood Association (NPNA) which had done research and provided a report addressing issues raised by residents about the Central Park site, with a large emphasis on a loss of green space.

This began a search for an alternative location; the city explored moving the project across the street to the parking lot of the Save-On-Foods-Memorial Arena, the Royal Athletic Park and at sites owned by the Greater Victoria School District, with no luck.

ALSO READ: Dozens rally for Susan Simmons’ icy ocean dip for Crystal Pool

In choosing to look at alternative options the City lost $6 million from the Gas Tax Fund, $1 million from the Canadian Tire Jump Start Grant, and the first two years of a 10-year federal-provincial grant that was ready to cover up to 72 per cent of the $69.4 million project.

Costs have been estimated to rise by up to $500,000 per month.

At the same time, however, the present and ailing facility is costing upwards of $100,000 per month in maintenance costs.

“The Crystal Pool and Wellness Centre Replacement project remains one of the most significant infrastructure initiatives the City has undertaken,” Soulliere wrote. “The updated plan lays out a new approach to engaging with the community on the priorities for this project and is intended to be thorough and efficient.”

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

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