The proposed plan to build a $75 million city-wide destination pool with a “sport training” focus at Kitsilano’s Connaught Park as part of a facility renewal of the Kits Community Centre and/or rink is up for decision Monday, December 11, 2017.
The proposed pool is part of Vansplash, a comprehensive city-wide strategy that addresses all of Vancouver’s indoor and outdoor aquatics. The final recommendations specifically recommend: “a new City-wide Destination pool with a sport training focus at Connaught Park as part of a future arena and/or community centre renewal.”
“The facility would replace and improve the sport training capacity of the Vancouver Aquatic Centre and would consider hosting potential for competitions at a level that the site can accommodate” (page 4, VanSplash: Vancouver Aquatics Strategy).
The public outreach thus far has focused exclusively on input for the VanSplash plan regarding the city’s aquatic amenities, even though in the case of Kitsilano, the plan includes significant changes to the scope and nature of the existing community centre and rink via the construction of a city-wide pool.
All of the other indoor pools that are proposed involve rebuilding and enlarging existing pools – Britannia, Kerrisdale and the Vancouver Aquatic Centre – as part of community centre renewals. There will also be a renovation of Kensington pool.
The proposed Connaught Park pool was initially intended to be a “replacement” of Point Grey’s Lord Byng neighbourhood pool, despite it being in a different neighbourhood. Meanwhile, the Lord Byng pool was initially slated to be demolished; however, the patrons there, who were also not directly informed, found out about the plan this past fall, and protested.
Their petitions and events did not however result in a recommendation to keep their pool open. Instead, it is now inconclusive: “Once the Connaught Park pool is fully operational, engage with pool users, community members and key stakeholders in a review of the impacts of the new Connaught Park pool on Lord Byng pool” (page 4, VanSplash: Vancouver Aquatics Strategy).
The recommendations put forth Monday are to be implemented over 10 years, with the Connaught Park pool and community centre and/or rink renewal proposed to have the planning and design start in mid-2019 and construction to start in mid-2023 (page 71, Appendix A: VanSplash: Vancouver Aquatics Strategy Part 3 – Recommendations).
In the publicly available recording of the June 19, 2017 Park Board meeting, Vansplash Project Manager Katy Amon responded to a question about the impact of the planned pool on Connaught Park and the playing fields:
“We’ve looked at a number of different site options at a very high level just to see if this is even possible and there are a number of options for development of a pool within the existing footprint of the parking lot and rink, or parking lot, rink and community centre.
We do feel that it’s worth looking at other options of reconfiguring the entire site because the eastern edge of the park actually provides a lot of opportunities in terms of being closer to the density but further away from the strictly single family house area. And it’s much closer to the transit station, which we think is a really big bonus of this site.”
The public has a chance to voice concerns to the Park Board Commissioners at the Monday 7:00 pm meeting if they do not want the plan to be approved, and can register to speak until noon on Monday, December 11. Or they can email concerns to Park Board Commissioners, who will vote that evening to accept the plan, make changes to it or send it back to staff to be reworked.
To review the over 500 page report, see the VanSplash links towards the bottom of this Park Board webpage.