“It has become very apparent that Vancouver tax payers have been kept in the dark about what the plan is for Vancouver’s Pools. Even the VanSplash name is misleading. It sounds more like a beach party advertisement than a 25 year infinitive for Vancouver Pools.” Bill Wadsworth, Kitsilano resident (See letter further below.)
“The Park Board really needs to go back to the drawing board on VanSplash in its entirety!” Elvira Lount, Kitsilano resident (See letter further below.)
The Vancouver Park Board meets tonight, Monday, January 29, 2018, for the final discussion and decision on a long-term plan for Vancouver pools. For the record, we provide some information here (letters, links, media) about dissenting views from people who feel the consultation and the resulting proposed plan are inadequate.
The plan, dubbed “VanSplash,” includes a 25-year vision and a 10-year implementation plan for the city’s aquatic services. It features a shift “away from a predominantly neighbourhood scale pool system” to one that features larger community and “destination scale” facilities. The strategy has already spurred considerable community anger over the proposed closure of Lord Byng and Templeton Park pools.
Some citizens are criticizing the process leading up to tonight’s meeting and proposed decisions. There has been limited media coverage of groups fighting to preserve neighbourhood pools. Much of the proposed strategy is vague at this point, but officials they say they will consult the public on the details after the Park Board approves the general policies. But there is some doubt regarding how much leeway will be given for public input on the specifics. There are concerns about major changes in beloved community facilities.
Regarding the proposed “destination pool” at Connaught Park in Kitsilano, one group has created an informative website: www.Kitscommunity.com
Further below are some links and media coverage.
See Park Board agenda and VanSplash related documents here:
1. VanSplash: Vancouver Aquatics Strategy (decision deferred from Dec 11/17)
—___-–– – VanSplash Appendix 2: Co-located Outdoor Pool (South Vancouver)
—___-–– – VanSplash Appendix 3: Current State
—___-–– – VanSplash Appendix 4: Precedent Report
—___-–– – VanSplash Appendix 5: Public Engagement
Below are a few related tweets, and
Tweet from the Park Board:
The #VanParkBoard meets TONIGHT at 6:30pm. On the agenda: #VanSplash Aquatic Strategy and calendar of Special Events in parks in 2018. Come down to 2099 Beach Avenue or watch the live stream! (Recommended browsers are Safari and Explorer) http://ow.ly/Bwmk30i0y38
Statement by Bill Wadsworth, Helicopter pilot and Kitsilano Resident, January 20, 2018
The VanSplash Belly Flop
The VanSplash long-term aquatics strategy report, to put it politely, is one of the most flawed pieces of propaganda ever written. It is poorly written, confusing and full of smoke and mirrors. It is shocking that the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Parks Board ever allowed their names to be attached to such a biased document.
I will use some of the numbers from this report to demonstrate my point. Population of Vancouver: 660,000; people who responded to the poorly publicized VanSplash survey:, for the 4,500, i.e 0.68% of Vancouver’s population responded to the survey. These are hardly numbers that can or would justify making any sort of decision on, let alone a decision on a $75,000,000.
Let’s look a little closer at this survey. Firstly, there was NEVER any signage posted at Kits Pool, Kits Community Center or Lord Byng pool. I know this to be a fact as I personally use at least one of these facilities on a daily basis. I also know that there was no signage posted at the VAC. Nor were there ever any ads in local papers, radio, etc. It becomes very apparent why the survey respondent numbers are so low. Simply put, the public at large had no idea the survey was even taking place. One thing that has become crystal clear from watching the speakers at the Parks Board meetings on December 11th and 12th is the total lack of public consultation and duly notifying the public. The fewer the numbers, the easier it is to bias the numbers in one’s favour.
One of the things I find most troubling about this report and survey is that NONE of the 40,000+ “One Card” cardholders (as of Aug 2013) were contacted via post and/or email and asked to participate in this study, since the Parks Board has all One Card users’ addresses etc. on file. These One Card users are the actual users of these facilities on an ongoing basis. They know far better than anyone else what is working, what isn’t and most importantly provide real time feedback. They are the people that the city should have approached from square one and fully included throughout the study, etc. The city could have saved itself a lot of embarrassment. I recommend you keep these points in mind for ANY aquatic changes, additions or deletions that you actually proceed with.
It is very evident that the last thing the city needs is another Hillside complex. I was interested to note that so many speakers vehemently opposed these Mega pools and found Hillside crowded, noisy, etc. Then one councillor asked, “Then why is it so popular?” One possible reason could be the free parking, especially for parents who spend several hours with their children a few times a week. The dollars add up very quickly if you are paying $3.00 an hour for parking. Parking costs are also one of the reasons for the downfall of the VAC (Vancouver Aquatic Center). Unless you live within walking distance of the VAC, paying $7.00 to swim for 2 hours over and above the cost of admission is a deal breaker for many.
The same will be true if the city makes the mistake of moving forward with the “Destination Pool” at Connaught Park. From what I have been told, the pool would be built where the community center/ice rink parking lot is. The ample free parking is one of the main reasons the community center and ice rink are so popular. Take away the free parking and the numbers will plummet. This is exactly what will happen if the Mega pool is built at Connaught Park with paid underground parking. The city election is 8 months away. Why not incorporate a referendum into it for the Connaught pool?
Though I personally do not believe the pool is warranted and especially not at that location. The best suggestion I have heard throughout this whole process, aside from repairing, upgrading and retrofitting the existing city pools, is to explore the viability of turning Kitsilano outdoor pool into a year round facility with a removable or retractable roof. This makes sense and there is ample parking already in place. To me, that is forward thinking and has the potential to provide a huge return without a 75 million dollar plus price tag….. Given the current political climate and the overwhelming positions of Byng supporters, the Parks board should focus NOW and in the immediate future, on repairing and upgrading the existing pools and gym facilities. Rebuild the small community pools like Mt. Pleasant that were needlessly shutdown due to short sightedness. Has history not taught us anything?
Finally, how we can afford to finance these numerous aging facilities? First and foremost, stop wasting the public’s hard earned tax dollars on consultants and planners who are out to make names for themselves. The report and the survey are prime examples of this wasteful trend. I understand that the city had a surplus of $220 million dollars in 2016 and that 2017 will have a similar surplus as well. On top of that is the 6 billion dollars in surplus assets and the real estate endowment fund of close to 9 billion dollars. Let’s also not forget the 3.9% property tax hike last year.
I doubt that the Arbutus Greenway and the bike lanes the city has invested in would have been well received if the Parks Board and City had been forthcoming that as a result of these, that the City would be shutting down pools to recover the costs. One would hope that the Parks Board and City council can figure out financing from here. If all else fails, ask the public for funding. It would probably be political suicide but no worse than being chased out of office for shutting down these community facilities. I really don’t think that The Parks Board or the City Council realize how deep the nerve they have struck here with the Public. Whether the two governing bodies realize it or not, this has all the earmarks of becoming a major election issue. For many this is the LAST STRAW…..
Letter to Park Board Commissioners by Elivra Lount, Vancouver citizen, January 22, 2018
Dear Park Board Commissioners;
‘If that pool gets shut down, I will go down,’ said Gillian LaPrairie, who argues pool saved her life, By Yvette Brend, CBC News, 30-Dec-2017
Kitsilano residents cool on pool plan,
by Matt Robinson, Vancouver Sun, : January 22, 2018.
Excerpts: A shiny, new $75-million destination pool is something most city residents would positively yearn for.
But not in Kitsilano, where some locals are decrying proposed plans for such a facility in Connaught Park on West 12th near Arbutus. For these residents, the problem is two-fold: not only has the city’s park board failed to adequately consult people about the idea, but to go ahead with construction would do irreparable harm to a key piece of the community.
Rebecca Lockhart is among many who have developed a strong affinity for the Kitsilano Community Centre. The well-appointed centre, located at the southwest corner of Connaught Park, boasts a fitness centre, ice rink, community garden, preschool and children’s water park, among other amenities.
By Lockhart’s read, all that could be lost or permanently altered if a big, brash sport training pool designed to attract a major influx of residents from across the city were built at the location.
Recent park board documents related to its proposed VanSplash aquatic services strategy — up for consideration by commissioners on Jan. 29 — are not clear on whether the community centre as a whole or in part would need to be overhauled to make way for the pool, but they do raise such a possibility. Either way, Lockhart believes it would fundamentally disrupt the cozy, community centre feel to the area.
Lockhart and others see VanSplash as having been driven by an undemocratic process.
“This is about more than pools. This is about people having a right to know when big changes are coming and about being given a say — a real say, a legitimate say — so that people in positions of power, like these park board commissioners, can make decisions in good conscience, knowing that they actually have an idea of what people think,” Lockhart said, adding that she would be OK with the idea if it was established that the plans served a greater good.
The park board held five open houses, six focus groups and a pair of online surveys as it developed the VanSplash strategy, according to a recent report to commissioners.
But Lockhart believes the consultations — particularly in the latter stages when a park board vision began to crystallize — were inadequate. She hoped commissioners would send the strategy back for further community input.
Park board staff declined to respond to questions about the VanSplash strategy in advance of next week’s meeting.
The strategy includes a 25-year vision and a 10-year implementation plan for the city’s aquatic services that includes a shift “away from a predominantly neighbourhood scale pool system” to one that features larger community and “destination scale” facilities.
The strategy has already spurred considerable community anger over the proposed closure of Lord Byng and Templeton Park pools….
See full article with video: