“Park Board really needs to go back to the drawing board on VanSplash in its entirety!”: Meeting tonight on long term aquatics/pools strategy could see fireworks (Mon 29-Jan-2018)

VanSplash Vancouver Aquatics Strategy cover page Dec 2018It 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:

http://parkboardmeetings.vancouver.ca/2018/20180129/index.htm

1.  VanSplash:  Vancouver Aquatics Strategy (decision deferred from Dec 11/17)

-___– Appendix A:  VanSplash: Vancouver Aquatics Strategy Part 1 – Foundations

___— Appendix A:  VanSplash: Vancouver Aquatics Strategy Part 2 – Learnings

___— Appendix A:  VanSplash: Vancouver Aquatics Strategy Part 3 – Recommendations

___— – VanSplash Appendix 1:  Capital Costs

___- – VanSplash Appendix 2:  Co-located Outdoor Pool (South Vancouver)

___- – VanSplash Appendix 3:  Current State

___- – VanSplash Appendix 4:  Precedent Report 

___- – VanSplash Appendix 5:  Public Engagement

___— Supplemental memo (January 23, 2018)

 

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

 

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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…..

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Letter to Park Board Commissioners by Elivra Lount, Vancouver citizen, January 22, 2018

Dear Park Board Commissioners;

It has come to my attention that the final VanSplash Report to be voted on, on Jan 29, includes a possible hidden agenda that has not been subject to proper community consultation and discussion:  the possibility of the demolition of the existing and much loved and well used Kits Community Centre and ice rink and incorporating them into the new proposed “destination” megapool at Connaught Park. 
 
As stated in the VanSplash report “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.”
 
A fellow Kits gym user has put together an excellent website on this issue, clarifying the issues and what’s at stake. http://www.kitscommunity.com)
 
If this were to happen, our lovely little community centre would become a “destination” and the whole concept of “community” would be lost. As a regular user of the KCC gym I find this very disturbing. It’s a great little community gym that is well used but not too busy, with a friendly social atmosphere. The many activities in the community centre are diverse and well attended by Kits residents. There’s a great seniors centre, a well used gymnasium for indoor sports, several rooms for classes and meetings and a child care centre. And the ice rink next door of course. How would it even feasible to fit a facility that encompasses all of, this plus parking and an Olympic sized pool, on the current footprint of the KCC and rink? Surely, one way or another, part of the park green space will be taken by the new facility? 
 
Admittedly, there are issues at KCC, such as the hot pool being out of commission for months, and the heating system, but these are fixable. Renewal yes, demolition no, particularly if it then is to become part of a mega destination pool and sports complex, in other words similar to Hillcrest, which I have no interest in going to, as it’s too big, too crowded and too far away. Any sense of our “community” would disappear into a city wide destination mega pool-sports complex. 
 
There has been no public consultation in Kitsilano regarding the possible demolition of KCC and very little consultation about a mega facility at Connaught Park.  I can’t see how the Park Board can even vote on the Connaught Pool aspect of VanSplash on Jan 29, 2018 until after a thorough consultation with the residents of Kitsilano, with the options being clearly spelled out and discussed, including even building a facility in this space (and no doubt encroaching on green space), the impact on the neighbourhood in terms of parking and traffic and the changes to the “Kits community” part of KCC that would result. Surely, there has to be several open meetings and open houses, to be held at KCC, in this regard before a vote, not after!
 
Furthermore, the downtown aquatic centre is used by many swim groups for training and is always busy in the week, with only 3 or 4 lanes open for public lap swimming. These groups will of course be diverted to a new Connaught megapool, which will make the facility much busier than Hillcrest.
 
Personally, I’m in favour of building a new sports destination aquatic centre next to where the current VAC is located, as has been the proposal prior to the VanSplash process. I’m also in favour of keeping Lord Byng and other smaller community pools open even though I myself prefer to swim in 50m pools, preferably ozonated, with 50m swim times being held in the evenings as well as the day.
 
I understand that Park Board commissioners are claiming that the Connaught Pool/KCC is a long term project that is “years away” and that the community will be consulted. However, it appears to me that the Park Board will be voting on the VanSplash report in its entirety on Jan 29, which includes the Connaught destination pool, before any real consultation with the Kits community. So, in other words, once the PB votes on this on Jan 29, the Connaught Pool will become a “done deal” and set in motion, and harder to stop after the fact, even if it takes 7 years to find the money and to build. The consultation will then really only be on where to actually put the pool, and whether to put it on the current footprint of the Kits Community Centre and Ice rink, or on the east side of the park. The consultation won’t be on whether Connaught Park is actually the best place for a destination pool/sports complex, that may or may not include a new community centre and ice rink, as that will already have been decided on the 29th.
 
If the Kits consultation is to include whether or not there should even be a Connaught destination pool, then the vote on this should be delayed until there has been a thorough Kits community consultation. After all, if it’s indeed a “long term project”, then what’s the problem with a further delay of a few months on this aspect of VanSplash . 
 
As for the rest of the VanSplash report, I’m against the following as being unnecessary and a total waste of money:
 
1. hot tubs at outdoor pools
2. “urban beaches” – this is a totally ridiculous idea.
3. “play structures” at the beaches
4. “harbour decks”
5. “floating pool” in False Creek
 
The Park Board really needs to go back to the drawing board on VanSplash in its entirety!
 
Please simply focus on upgrading existing community pools such as Lord Byng, and building more community outdoor and indoor pools as well as a new Olympic sized 50m lane pool, ideally beside the current downtown Aquatic Centre. Everything else is superfluous. 
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MEDIA COVERAGE
Closure of Vancouver’s neighbourhood pools would have social costs, planner says
‘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

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Kitsilano residents cool on pool plan,
by Matt Robinson, Vancouver Sun, : January 22, 2018.
http://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/kitsilano-residents-cool-on-pool-plan
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:

http://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/kitsilano-residents-cool-on-pool-plan

 

 

3 thoughts on ““Park Board really needs to go back to the drawing board on VanSplash in its entirety!”: Meeting tonight on long term aquatics/pools strategy could see fireworks (Mon 29-Jan-2018)

  1. As an additional note, this has been sent to the VPB commissioners:

    The Connaught park location could be 1 km away from the proposed Arbutus subway station[1] , 800 meters from Arbutus (bus 16 which also serve Kerrisdale pool), 1 km away from the preserved Arbutus streetcar corridor and 550m away of Macdonald (bus 22 which also serve the Kitsilano and VAC pools).

    All those distances are far above the industry recommended acceptable walking distances to effectively make transit an attractive travel option. In effect research tends to show that only 20% of Transit users are willing to walk more than 400m from home (origin) to a bus stop, or 800m to a rail station,…those numbers being obtained when the destination is an average 350m walk from the transit arrival point[2][3].

    Only the routes on Broadway (99, 14 and 9) could provide acceptable transit accessibility. However in the expectation of a Broadway subway, the route 99 will be discontinued east of Arbutus, and bus 9 is a local feeder, and not a bus route targeting “city wide” trip. Transfer to this route will be still possible but this translate into a decay in the willingness to walk to/from a transit stop[4] .

    Considering the above, it is probable that a “city wide destination” facility at Connaught park will be mostly reached by car, so doing working against the Transport 2040 objective stated by the city of Vancouver. Considering the similarities in both, future transit access and facilities at Connaught park and Hillcrest, we suggest that the VPB leads an survey ​to get the modal access split at Hillcrest in order to get a benchmark enabling an informed opinion on the transportation need involved by a $75million ​”city wide destination pool” at Connaught park, and possibly investigate a more accessible destination by transit.

    [1] ​provision has been done for an exit at 2080 West Broadway, east of the arbutus rail corridor
    [2] ​Seneviratne: Acceptable Walking Distances in central Area, Journal of Transportation Engineering 111(4) · July 1985
    [3] Sean O’Sullivan and John Morrall: Walking Distances to and from Light-Rail Transit Stations, Transportation research Record, vol 1538, pp 19-26, 1996
    [3] B. W. Alshalalfah​ and A. S. Shalaby: ​Case Study: Relationship of Walk Access Distance to Transit with Service, Travel, and Personal Characteristics, Journal of Urban Planning and Development, vol 133, issue 2, June 2007

  2. Since all 3 of Vancouver’s outdoor swimming pools are located on the waterfront, VSPOP does not agree with Park Board’s argument about why Vancouver has the lowest number of outdoor pools of all major cities in Canada. The staff argument that will be presented to Commissioners on January 29th, is that:

    ‘A usable comparison needs to consider the relative population (Toronto has 2.8M residents, Montreal has 1.7M residents, Vancouver has 650,000) and geographic size of Vancouver and these other cities
    (Vancouver is far smaller by areathan Toronto and Montreal),
    which helps answer questions such as: on average, how far must residents travel to a pool;and, what is the total average capita (population) served by
    each pool? ‘

    Can we answer that one? If you live in South Vancouver or Mount Pleasant, it is pretty far to get to Kits, New Brighton, or Second Beach. Not only is it pretty far, but it takes pretty long!!! The result is that fewer people swim in outdoor pools in Vancouver because there are not enough accessible pools for out population.

    Toronto’s 59 pools serve 47.610 people per pool, while Vancouver’s 3 pools must serve 215,847 people per pool, if they can afford the time to get there.

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