COST has emerged as a key concern for council staff making recommendations for the future of the city’s pools.
The City of Greater Bendigo is home to 11 outdoor pools, an indoor pool and a splash park.
“It is a significant investment for the ratepayers to have all these aquatic facilities,” health and wellbeing director Vicky Mason said.
“At some stage we are going to have to have conversations about whether the community can afford them all.”
A report to councillors in the agenda for next week’s meeting has excited concerns for the future of the Golden Square Pool, which is managed by a volunteer committee and costs the council $50,000 a year.
Council staff have recommended the pool be closed once the new Gurri Wanyarra Wellbeing Centre in Kangaroo Flat opens.
Alternatives include keeping the pool open for long enough to analyse the new indoor pool’s effect on the popularity of the Golden Square Pool. Council is also contemplating altering the level of financial support.
Ms Mason said the Golden Square pool was one of the least costly pools for council, “if there is no need for additional investment.”
“But we are concerned about the state of the infrastructure and the increasing pool standards set by Lifesaving Victoria that will increase the obligations on what is a great voluntary committee,” she said.
“Whilst I want to reassure the community it is safe to swim at Golden Square at the moment there is a risk that infrastructure will fail.”
The most recent audit, done five years ago, suggested $292,150 worth of improvements to meet minimum health and safety standards and expectations.
Golden Square Pool president Bernadette Wright said the committee was aware the facility would need work.
“The plans we have for improvement have been held in continual abeyance because we're always waiting to know about our future," she said.
Given certainty about the timeline for works, Ms Wright was confident the committee could raise sufficient funds for improvements.
“We’re got more than a couple of years left in that pool,” she said.
The committee has urged members of the community to reach out to their local councillors to make their support for the pool known.
The pool’s history of campaigning – initially, to open, and more recently, to remain open – was highlighted at a centenary celebration attended by councillors at the start of the month.
“We’ve done it before, and we can do it again,” Ms Wright said.
Ms Wright said a surplus of pools was the stated reason for considering the pool’s closure.
Addressing the media earlier today, Ms Mason said the Golden Square Pool would be within 2.5 kilometres both ways of other pools once the Gurri Wanyarra Wellbeing Centre opened.
“We recognise there’s a need for aquatic facilities but we would argue the community is highly serviced and in an environment where we're dealing with rate capping we need to make sure we invest in quality infrastructure...we can’t afford to maintain everything within the community to the standard people would like,” she said.
Students float support for pool
SUPPORTERS of the Golden Square Pool are prepared to campaign for the 100-year-old facility’s survival.
Students from Specimen Hill Primary School are among those urging Bendigo councillors not to close the community’s pool.
Eight-year-old Harry Barne said he would feel sad if the city’s elected representatives voted to shut a “good pool” at their upcoming council meeting.
“We come here a lot for swimming lessons,” Harry said.
He also frequented the Golden Square pool with his family.
Peers Jasper, Charli and Keenan Seymour has similar stories to share.
None of the city’s councillors have disclosed whether they intend to vote in favour of the pool’s survival.
The matter comes before council on February 21.