A Facebook post from Stephen Portman

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Posted on Facebook March 30, 2018 by Stephen Portman

 Dear North Park et al, Crystal pool and the park are in trouble! The future of an inclusive and socially responsible crystal pool needs you to take 5 mins to fill out this survey before midnight tomorrow, March 31st – https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/poolfuture2018.

It’s easy and I have pasted some content below if ya need.

While the new plan has some good stuff there is much left to be desired. For example, no plan for housing or food security, lack of amenities for community building, gruesome and unnecessary surface parking and an astonishing lack of a comprehensive vision for central park.

Time is short so if you need some ideas for the comment section of the survey, feel free to borrow from some of my thoughts below:

1. Multi-purpose rooms – The multi-purpose rooms do not appear to have space or amenities for food preparation/storage, art supplies, sinks, audio/visual equip etc. Always lovely to have some space but important that the space has function. I note that the three rooms (small, medium, large) are all in close proximity with separate interior walls and entrances. I suggest that separation walls between the rooms should be movable to provide greater flexibility for group size and use. If not between all three, then definitely between the medium and small rooms. The multi-purpose rooms should be accessible beyond the likely hours of the facility. I recommend the inclusion of a separate entrance to these rooms as an important feature to allow for access outside of standard operating pool hours. North Park does not presently have a community centre. Extra care in this aspect of the pool redesign will fill a longstanding gap in this neighbourhood.

2. Central Park – I am concerned that a proposal of this size ($70 Million) and value does not include a comprehensive plan for the redevelopment of Central Park at the same time that the pool is being replaced. To my view, good community planning and fiscal prudence suggests a more comprehensive approach. As far as I am aware, it is presently unknown what park assets will remain through the construction period and what assets will be returned to the park following project completion. The current plan does not commit to the replacement of the heavily used, children’s playground, tennis and basketball courts. Apart from these uses, the rest of the park is actively accessed for: tai chi, survival shelter, baseball, sunbathing, reading, family BBQ and picnics, pick-up football, slack rope walking, soccer, dog walking and more. How will these park uses be brought into the park replacement plan? I suggest that these infrastructure uses should be expanded and prioritised over surface parking and that there should be a plan for access to these facilities through and following the construction period. I strongly recommend that the city begin work on a supplemental plan that takes a more comprehensive view of the park and pool facility as part of the current replacement planning process.

3. Housing – Housing is of major concern across all of the neighbourhoods in our city. It is of high importance to consider the potential benefits for the community and for the funding potential of this project, that could flow from the inclusion of housing units in the replacement plan. The community is in desperate need of affordable housing across the middle and lower income spectrum. In North Park specifically, we are in need of low-cost, non-market family housing (2 and 3 bedroom units) that are affordable for single parent families. Using the footprint proposed for the pool replacement provides the badly needed opportunity to develop housing which could be built on top of the pool and community facility. Inclusion of social housing units in this proposal will make it far more favorable for funding applications to both the provincial and federal government who have placed renewed emphasis on housing development. Given the scarcity and high cost of land for residential development in the urban core, it is crucial to include social housing as a component of all new public land development.

4. Food Security – The existing plan does not provide any amenity that would contribute to urban agriculture. North Park is a neighbourhood that is deeply committed to the principles of food security with an active community of urban farmers. Providing space for agricultural education and growing is an important aspect of good neighbourhood development in the context of this proposal. This could include a community garden space, fruit trees, greenhouse, food market, and compost facilities.

5. Parking – I am concerned about the change in parking that is being proposed. It is my understanding that between 110-140 new off street parking spaces are being recommended for this project and that these new spaces will be surface level, to be paved on top of what could otherwise be valuable green space in a heavily used park. I live adjacent to central park, frequent crystal pool, and view the present parking footprint as adequate. There are 500+ city owned parking spaces in the adjacent lot at save-on-arena and nearby Royal Athletic Park as well as the time-limited on-street parking available on surrounding streets. North Park has no shortage of surface parking. The siting of this facility is within walking distance, 5 km of the majority of Victoria residents, and is adjacent to the cycling corridor and core public transit routes. With the acknowledgement that there will be an increase in usership of the new facility from across the region, there is a need for better transit access and parking. I believe this could be addressed through underground as opposed to surface parking. I recommend that a qualitative and quantitative study be undertaken to analyze the cost/benefit of the current plan with respect to parking. I suspect that while underground parking is much higher in actual cost then surface parking, that this cost is worth it when measured against: loss of green space in a heavily used park, the eyesore of another large surface parking lot in a neighbourhood with so many of them, and the increased traffic impact for households around the park.

Want background on the current plan?


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