Honourable Shane Simpson
Minister of Social Development & Poverty Reduction
PO Box 9058 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria, BC V8W 9E2
January 21, 2020
Re: Victoria’s Mayor and Council leave disabled and other vulnerable citizens at risk
I am writing to you for help.
I am a 55-year-old living with Multiple Sclerosis, a debilitating progressive autoimmune disease for which there is no cure. As a resident of Victoria, I rely on the services the city provides, specifically Crystal Pool and Fitness Centre -our municipal pool and recreation hub. Swimming has been lifesaving for me as I use it to manage my disease and transition into my senior years. If I don’t swim, my disease will progress, I will be unable to work and will require medication and medical assistance; all of this at a cost to our medical and social systems.
Many other residents of Victoria who use Crystal Pool are in a similar situation. The facility is the only pool in the Capital Regional District that provides programs to para athletes and people with intellectual disabilities. The facility is heavily used by local children and seniors and a significant number of the users live in poverty. We are all there to be well and manage our health, and by doing so, unburden our medical and social systems.
The Crystal Pool and Fitness Centre has reached end-of-life and needs replacement; the city was made aware of this close to 10 years ago. Mayor and Council have been ineffective at moving plans forward and we are now looking at the very real possibility of having no pool. With all other facilities in the Capital Regional District at or near capacity, thousands will have no where to go to manage their wellness.
About two years ago just 2 weeks prior to the last municipal election the Mayor and Council rescinded the decision to build a new replacement facility adjacent the current centre. Further, they instructed staff to return a $6 million grant and to not apply for an infrastructure grant that could have paid up to 73.3% of the facilities replacement costs.Instead, the Mayor and Council will be asking residents to pay up to +$70million by way of civic referendum for the new facility.
By not taking advantage of the grant opportunity and forcing us to referendum the Mayor and Council have killed the future of a pool in Victoria. I am no statistician, but I do know that only 52% of Canadians exercise, and the type of exercise varies – in other words, we aren’t all swimmers. Our number 1 sport Hockey has an uptake of less than 20%. Swimming sees participation rates between 10 and 15%. If we had to go to referendum for all our fitness facilities, we would have none.
Although the fate of the Crystal Pool and Fitness Centre is a municipal matter, the health and the well being of people with disabilities is a concern to all levels of government. I am hoping that as Minister of Social Development &Poverty Reduction, you can provide the Mayor and Council with guidance and help.Those of us who are doing our part to stay healthy and minimize our already burdened social and healthcare systems despite our disabilities should not have to suffer or be penalized because of their massive blunder.
- Mayor Lisa Helps, City of Victoria, 1 Centennial Square, Victoria, BC V8W 1P6
- Councillor Marianne Alto, City of Victoria, 1 Centennial Square, Victoria, BC V8W 1P6
- Councillor Sharmarke Dubow, City of Victoria, 1 Centennial Square, Victoria, BC V8W 1P6
- Councillor Ben Isitt, City of Victoria, 1 Centennial Square, Victoria, BC V8W 1P6
- Councillor Jeremy Loveday, City of Victoria, 1 Centennial Square, Victoria, BC V8W 1P6
- Councillor Sarah Potts, City of Victoria, 1 Centennial Square, Victoria, BC V8W 1P6
- Councillor Charlayne Thornton-Joe, City of Victoria, 1 Centennial Square, Victoria, BC V8W 1P6
- Councillor Geoff Young, City of Victoria, 1 Centennial Square, Victoria, BC V8W 1P6
- Nicole Crescenzi, Reporter, Victoria News, Black Press, 818 Broughton Street, Victoria BC V8W 1E4
- Alanna Kelly,Journalist, Weekend Anchor, CTV News Vancouver Island, 1420 Broad Street,Victoria, BC V8W 2B1
- Al Ferraby, Host,CFAX 1070 Radio, 1420 Broad Street, Victoria, BC V8W 2B1
- Adam Sterling,CFAX 1070 Radio, 1420 Broad Street, Victoria, BC V8W 2B1
- April Lawrence,Reporter, CHEK News, 780 Kings Road, Victoria BC V8T 5A2
- Dave Obee, Editor, Publisher, Times Colonist, 2621 Douglas Street,Victoria BC V8T 4M2