The City of Victoria’s budget draft for next year doesn’t include the Crystal Pool replacement, meaning the project’s future will be determined by the next mayor and council.
Victoria staff will give council an overarching presentation on the draft financial plan on Monday (Oct. 25), but the budget has the pool project pegged as a 2023 action.
Susan Simmons, an advocate for the pool, was saddened, but not surprised, by the news of the replacement being delayed.
“Based on the current council I’m not shocked,” she said. “They always make it an election issue and then it never goes forward.”
Simmons said fitness, sport and gathering places like Crystal Pool help build a strong community.
“Knowing that we’re still at risk of losing that facility, that’s kind of heartbreaking,” she said. “The current council doesn’t understand the role these types of facilities play in the lives of citizens.”
The draft budget does include developing “a plan including site selection, funding strategy and partnerships to develop a new Central Library” as an action item. In July, council approved spending 15 months and $200,000 to determine the feasibility of renewing and expanding the library at its current site and the implications of moving it to a new one.
The Crystal Pool facility sees just shy of 90,000 visits annually, according to the draft budget.
Pointing to its summer and after-school programs for kids, its fitness classes and community space, Simmons said having an accessible and central pool facility benefits not just North Park, but all of Victoria.
“We all have our places that we go for wellness and healing. The recreation centre is one of those places where community gathers.”
-With files from Jane Skrypnek
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