Golden Square pool could stay open

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The Golden Square Swimming Pool could remain open indefinitely with a meeting on the facility’s future scheduled for next week.

The pool was slated for closure when the new Kangaroo Flat Aquatic Centre opens at the end of 2017, but councillors say they are open to allowing the committee to continue operating the facility in the longer term.

Golden Square Pool Inc president Bernadette Wright said a bumper season last summer had boosted her confidence the two centres could comfortably co-exist.

“It’s grown from strength to strength from when we reopened, and last summer we had 15-and-a-half-thousand people through the gate, which if you check figures around town I think we were way up there,” she said.

“People come from all over Bendigo and it has great water quality, the surrounds are really fantastic, it’s a great atmosphere there and it’s utilised by schools, sporting clubs, for birthday parties – it’s been very well utilised.

“I don’t want to be disparaging about the new aquatic centre but I think there is still a place for successful outdoor pools. I think they can exist together very well.”

The management committee will meet with City of Greater Bendigo councillors on Wednesday.

Councillor Barry Lyons said it was too early to predict how the new aquatic centre would affect attendance figures at the Golden Square pool, but things had changed since the original decision to close the pool was made in 2012.

“The original intention was to close Golden Square, Long Gully and Kangaroo Flat, but things have changed a bit and it’s another probably 12 months at least before the aquatic centre will open,” he said.

“Years ago the committee fell away because of interest probably, the old committee got a bit old for it and we had a group looking after it, I think it was the YMCA and the numbers fell away to not much at all.

“But since then they’ve been very successful running it, the new committee, and if they want to continue on as they are, well why would you get in their road. We love volunteers.”

Ms Wright said the outdoor pool could meet a gap in the market which opened up during the warmer months.

“In the summer there are sausage sizzles, people barbecue their food, people bring fish and chips and have a picnic at the pool, it’s a different atmosphere,” she said.

“Because it’s a place where people gather, it’s become a bit of a hub for the Golden Square community and other suburbs in the summer.”

In 2013, councillors voted to allow the pool to stay open until the Kangaroo Flat Leisure Centre came on line following a community campaign to save the pool, including an offer to meet the facility’s running costs.

Councillor Elise Chapman was a strong supporter of the plan to keep the pool open at the time and she said she was confident the council would again get behind the committee.

“I’m fairly confident that the city will, as long as the community still want it,” she said.

“Not everybody wants to have a swim in a heated pool, there are a lot of people that enjoy doing laps in outside pools in summer.”

Cr Chapman said she was prepared to again personally step up to help keep the pool open if it was the will of her constituents.

“Of course I will fight for my ward, I will fight for my residents and if they want it open longer term and I have to fight again, then I will,” she said.

Mayor and fellow Lockwood ward councillor Rod Fyffe said he would “look seriously” at any proposal to keep the pool open.

“We’ve invited the committee to come along and present to council and we believe the committee do a great job for the community and the pool, but we want to meet with them to talk to them about their plans,” he said.

“We know they’ve done a good job and it’s certainly served a purpose.”

The Golden Square pool will open for the summer on November 19.

The season is then due to run through to the Labour Day long weekend in mid-March.

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