Big update on ‘Connaught Park Mega Pool’: Kits Community group shares findings of FOI inquiry

pexels-photo-261185.jpegLast year the Vancouver Park Board completed its VanSplash consultation and long-term plan for aquatics in this city. There were some specifics and a lot of generalities in the report. Once word came out that the VanSplash propal included plans to turn the current Vancouver Aquatic Centre in the West End into a smaller local spa pool, and to build a major new “destination” pool and complex at Connaught Park in Kitsilano, Rebecca Lockhart and her team at the “Kits Community” group went into high gear to find out more and get the public more involved.

As they were finding that a lot of the information was not being made available to the public, the Kits Community group did an FOI request and obtained the architectural “test fit” plans for a potential 160,000 square foot, two-story mega pool facility with pay parking at Connaught Park. The complete report from the consultant is dated July 2017. Why did the City and Park Board withhold this information from the public? Why has there been no real public consultation on this? Clearly, the plans for this pool were much further along than officials indicated to the public.

Some people across the City, outside the neighbourhood might want to see another Hillcrest-type of destination pool built, though even that one has its supporters and detractors. And what about the wishes of local community? How can consultation be done fairly and in good faith, respecting all views?

Read the summary ( and check out the details of the test fit plans (FOI response documents – Extensive background and resources on the updated Kits Community website (

The group also has a petition, here.

2 thoughts on “Big update on ‘Connaught Park Mega Pool’: Kits Community group shares findings of FOI inquiry

  1. The VanSplash strategy calculated need – so they did a test fit to see if the need could be accommodated on the site – it did, so they suggested it as a potential opportunity pending more studies and consultation… would you rather they throw random ideas around and find out later that it didn’t fit on the site? This is a very clear, smart and professional method of planning a new recreation facility.

  2. The issue is not that the test fit was done in the Spring of 2017, for as you point out, it is necessary and makes sense.

    What is most problematic is that there was no public engagement enacted when the test fit was done to determine if the proposed site satisfied a “test fit” with local stakeholders and the community, prior to Connaught Park being chosen as the preferred site.

    In Sept and Oct of 2017, once the site had definitively been selected and a pool was being proposed for Connaught Park in Park Board draft recommendations, a public engagement process was enacted. It sought confirmation of the Connaught Park pool recommendation, and many others, as it is a vast strategy that encompasses beaches, indoor pools, outdoor pools, spray parks, wading pools, etc.

    When this engagement was enacted, Kits and the Kits Community Centre were not involved at all. Nobody even knew the plan existed, there was nothing posted on the walls at the Comunity Centre and the neighbourhood was not informed.

    That phase of public engagement involved just 1,648 survey respondents city wide to determine if VanSplash’s numerous recommendations had public support. There were open houses, but only three, and two were held at Hillcrest and Killarney, where no changes are planned. There was a final one held at the VAC. That is not very many people for a city wide, 25 year strategy.

    Notably, this public engagement survey was voluntary, and 50% of the respondents took part because they were signed up for TalkVancouver’s automated email surveys. This does not suggest great deal of effeort went into engaging the public.

    Only two of the 12 total questions related to the indoor pool plans, and they were lumped together, not addressed individually on a case by case basis.

    Most notably, only 35% of respondents thought the recommendations would improve indoor aquatics. So there wasn’t even clear support despite how few people responded. As such, it hard to believe that this strategy was intended to be responsive to what the public wants.

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