Council had a tour of Crystal Pool today. I worked with the City Manager to arrange this for today because I thought it was a good idea for Council to tour the facility in advance of having a discussion about it at Thursday’s meeting. And Council held the New Year’s Levy there this year, in part, to send a signal to the public that this is an important community facility that deserves and requires Council’s attention.
Like many of you, I value the facility and use it regularly. If it makes most financial long-term sense to reinvest in and refurbish the current facility, I would support this. As tomorrow’s report to the Governance and Priorities Committee shows, we still need more information to determine if this is possible and if there is long-term financial benefit to refurbishment.
Should the City decide to rebuild rather than refurbish the pool, I would like us to keep our options open as to how we get to a publicly run swimming pool. What I would like to see, should we need to rebuild the pool is to develop a business case for a Crystal Pool and Wellness Centre that incorporates a publicly owned and operated swimming pool and recreation centre as well as commercial / retail space and housing.
This may require a partnership with the non-profit or private sector for the housing portion and for the commercial space (for doctor’s office, massage therapist, chiropractor etc). As stewards of public assets Council has a responsibility to put those assets to their best and highest use.
One thing I can assure you of is that I’m as committed to public participation as I am to Crystal Pool. Before Council makes any long-term decision about what to do with the site, I favour a deep and meaningful public participation process. In this process we will share information about the pool as well as the other City facilities that are in need up upgrade and repair and we will gather information about what is important to you in a public recreation facility.