Diverse Recreation for All

June 6th Update:

The Mayor’s motion does not address this recommendation specifically as it does not call or an art centre or gymnasium in either the Crystal Pool or the proposed community centre adjoining.  We continue to advocate for these other diverse and in-demand recreation options.


Recommendation 1:

More diverse, inclusive, and in-demand recreation (art centre, gymnasium)

To increase the diversity of recreation choices in the Crystal Pool, Council directs staff to:

a) Include a minimum of one full-sized gymnasium in the new recreation centre to accommodate the high demand by children, youth, and adults for both racquet and court sports.

b) Pursue a partnership with the Vancouver Island School of Art to provide them with stable, long term tenancy in exchange for recreational art programming.

Why a full sized gym?

The initial concept design presented to the public in February 2018 excluded a gymnasium in the new $70M recreation facility.  The current design, shared with stakeholders in April 2018, now includes a ‘gymnasium-style’ multipurpose room. An improvement for sure, but it is not full height or full size so it may accommodate racquet sports, but it will not suffice for youth/adult basketball or other court sports.

The immediately surrounding neighbourhoods are without a long term indoor gymnasium – the YMCA is being sold and its replacement not yet defined, the gym in the old University Canada West building is slated for redevelopment in as little as three years, and the gymnasium at George Jay is small (typical of an elementary school) and in high-demand so despite being able to be rented by organized groups, is rarely available.

An informal survey of recreation centres in the core/adjacent municipalities of Oak Bay, Esquimalt and Saanich, found that gymnasiums are the most in-demand asset in a rec centre for racquet sports (badminton, pickleball, table tennis) and court sports (basketball, volleyball).  These uses are also the most lucrative, supporting the facility through user fees and thereby decreasing the amount of subsidization through property taxes.

The most popular use of Central Park is unequivocally the Steve Nash basketball court . An indoor gymnasium would allow these users to play at night and during rainy season. These users are incredibly diverse in terms of age, race and culture; more opportunities for connection and community cohesion should be encouraged by the City through its recreation centre with year-round pick-up basketball, leagues, and lessons.

A partnership with the Vancouver Island School of Art (VISA)

The current concept design does not include an arts centre of any kind.  Changes to classroom size and population growth are necessitating the reclamation of repurposed school buildings by School District 61; as a result, VISA is needing to find a new home as of August 2018.  Like many art and creative organizations, the challenge of finding appropriate and affordable space is intensifying and tenureship in private and public buildings more uncertain.

An informal survey of recreation centres in the core/adjacent municipalities of Oak Bay, Esquimalt and Saanich, found that there is only one recreation centre with an arts centre – Cedar Hill Recreation.  According to the management staff at Cedar Hill, classes and drop-in programming for the arts centre are always sold out and the art centre is profitable; these user fees are able to support other operating costs for the facility and decrease the subsidization through property taxes.

Cedar Hill staff note there is much latent demand for its art centre programming and drop-in hours.  The only limitation this manager notes is the ability to find art teachers if more programming or a new art centre were to be created.  A partnership with VISA to operate the art centre would alleviate the City of the responsibility, and potential difficulty, in securing skilled teachers.

The Create Victoria Master Plan, adopted by City Council in December 2017, specifically recognizes the importance of art for recreation, inclusion, and expression. The plan also identifies securing and retaining creative space as a key challenge and strategizes using Crystal Pool as an opportunity to include creative spaces in City infrastructure projects. Relevant details from Create Victoria plan included below.

Create Victoria Plan Strategic Priority #1: Connecting People and Spaces


Everyone feels welcome and able to access affordable spaces for creative participation, production and enjoyment.

Objective 1.2 of the Plan:

Determine the short, medium, and long-term phasing of cultural space development in new and existing facilities.

  • Corresponding Action for Council: Seize opportunities to include creative spaces within existing City infrastructure projects (e.g. Crystal Pool, library, affordable housing, etc.)