'Council can only do so much': Victoria's Crystal Pool replacement project put on hold until 2023
Victoria’s Crystal Pool doesn’t have time to wait. It’s at the end of its service life, but those tasked with figuring out its future are putting plans on hold.
"It’s more typical of this council, don’t make a decision," said one Crystal Pool user on Wednesday.
Victoria city council is punting the contentious replacement project to the next mayor and council, which will be elected in October of 2022.
"Council can only do so much at once and we can only raise taxes so much," said Lisa Helps, Mayor of Victoria, on Wednesday.
The mayor says with a number of big projects underway, it comes down to making hard choices around priorities – and a new Central Library has been deemed the top priority, over the pool.
"The current library has been in its temporary space for almost 40 years and an opportunity has come up," said Helps. "There are lots of developers in the downtown (core) who are saying, 'Hey, I can build you a library as part of my new development.'"
The city will now spend $200,000 on a feasibility study to determine whether to redevelop or move the Central Branch of the Greater Victoria Public Library.
"I think we need the pool," said one library user on Wednesday. "The library seems perfectly fine to me and I love the location."
Almost $2 million has already been spent on the pool project. But despite years of debate, councillors haven’t come to a consensus on where to build it.
On Wednesday, a taxpayer watchdog group expressed its frustrations with the project.
"The sorts of feasibility, 'Let's feel this around and try to find new land,' happens frequently and taxpayers are the ones flipping the bill," said Kris Sims, B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
Victoria’s mayor insists the money hasn’t been wasted.
"That’s not money thrown away because the pool will be the pool wherever it goes," said Helps. "We’ve got the programming, we’ve got the layout, we’ve got the design and we have done the engagement."
"We know what the facility is going to look like, we just don’t exactly know where it will go at this point," she said.
The project will be picked up again in 2023.