In 2016, the Park Board began work on a 25-year city-wide aquatics strategy called VanSplash. It was completed in December of 2017.
The resulting strategy includes recommendations to build several new pools.
The strategy includes a 10-year timeline that proposes building a city-wide indoor destination pool with a sport training focus at Connaught Park for swim team training and competitions. (Sources at end.)
The proposal involves tearing down the Kitsilano Community Centre and/or arena and rebuilding one or both in a new, up to 160,000 square foot facility.
It would be built where the community centre, rink and parking lots are, or potentially on the east side of Connaught Park.
If it were built on the east side, the community centre, rink and parking lots would be removed and replaced with greenspace, once the new facility was built.
On Dec 11, 2017, Park Board General Manager Malcolm Bromley stated that an entirely new facility is preferred. The proposed facility is estimated to cost $135 – $165 million.
LACK OF PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE
In January of 2018, Kits residents who heard about the megapool plan at the Lord Byng pool spoke out in the media about the lack of knowledge of the plan in Kits.
The Park Board solicited feedback in the fall of 2017 on Vanpslash’s dozens of draft recommendations that proposed specific sites for new indoor pools, including the Kits megapool, and other aquatic amenities.
In this phase of public engagement, the Park Board received feedback from 1,648 people city-wide who voluntarily completed a 12-question online survey. Two of the questions were about the proposed new indoor pools, and they were addressed together as an overarching plan.
Half of the 1,648 respondents completed the survey because they had signed up with the City of Vancouver’s “Talk Vancouver”, which sends surveys to its email list. No public outreach events were held in Kitsilano at the time.
On January 29, 2018, the Park Board Commissioners had their first meeting to address the numerous recommendations in the vast strategy, which were first presented to them on December 11, 2017.
The Commissioners suggested some significant changes to the original recommendations, by amending them, and referred them back to staff for further consideration. They were made in response to public feedback, and included plans for community engagement with Kitsilano.
A “potential new future destination pool with a sport training focus at Connaught Park” was still being considered in the 10-year strategy.
Park Board staff communicated in March of 2018 that the revised report, intended to be released in March or April, would provide both an outline and a timeline for upcoming proposed public and stakeholder engagement in Kits.
After the revised report would have been released, then the Park Board Commissioners would have had a public meeting again, likely in April or May, to address what it proposed.
The original recommendation set out a timeline that would have seen planning and design for the proposed Kits facility start in 2019. Construction would start in 2023 and last approximately 2 years.
The VanSplash plan originally asked that the Commissioner’s approve the strategy and endorse the 10-year implementation plan “as the basis for making submissions to the City’s 2019 – 2028 Capital Strategic Outlook and 2019-2022 Capital Plan processes.”
UNEXPECTED CHANGE IN PLANS
On April 5, 2018, the Park Board unexpectedly changed its plans and announced that it will “invite an external advisory committee to assist in developing a revised version of VanSplash, the Board’s long-term aquatics strategy for Vancouver.”
“The advisory committee will represent residents from across the city and include stakeholders from key aquatic areas including recreation, skill development, fitness, sport, and therapy.”
“There will be an open call for swimmers and stakeholders to apply to join the advisory committee in the coming months. Staff will bring a report on the revised strategy to the Board in 2019.”
The overarching strategy of the city-wide policy includes building more destination facilities that draw people from across the city to individual neighbourhoods.
The strategy initially included plans to demolish two neighbourhood pools, Lord Byng and Templeton, but those communities fought to keep them open and they are now being considered for renovation.
Some people have suggested that neighbourhood facilities are of greater value than destination ones as citizens have recreational and social amenities closer to where they live that better foster and sustain community connections.
- VanSplash, the aquatics strategy that includes this plan for Kits.
- Vancouver Sun and Vancouver Courier articles about poor consultation in Kits – January 2018
- Vancouver Courier story about sudden change in plans and advisory committee – April 2018
- Our background stories: Insufficient public engagement and Initial proposal for Kits
- Media coverage of January 29, 2018 Park Board meeting
- Information about inadequate consultation in dozens of Vancouver neighbourhoods: Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods
- December 2017 first recommendation for Kits: Page 4, section 1.5
- Pay Parking: Slide 64
- Cost of facility: Slide 64
- Location possibly east side of park: Minute 38:10 of video
- General Manager’s statements re nature of facility: Minute 58:50 of video
- Plan seeks Park Board Commissioner’s approval of 10-year strategy as basis of capital planning submissions : Slide 2; Page 1, section B
- Timeline for planning and construction: Slide 62
- Email from VanSplash project manager suggesting public consultation in Kits – available upon request (email us)
- Second phase of public engagement 1,648 people half who heard about it from Talk Vancouver: Pages 18 & 130
- Second phase of engagement online survey questions: Page 124
- Instructions to staff to create a renewed plan for Kits: Page 2, section 1.5