Bendigo Advertiser letters to the editor

I feel like this is Déjà vu – and it is. The residents of Golden Square are again facing the closure of their community hub – their swimming pool.

The City of Greater Bendigo councillors have received a recommendation from council officers to close the Golden Square Pool at the end of the current lease in June 2018.

The Golden Square community has a history from the late 1800s of campaigning the City of Greater Bendigo for their pool. Since residents fought to keep it open in 2013 the pool has gone from strength to strength. Nearing the end of our 5 th season we have had more than 66000 patrons through the gate. This number of people can’t be ignored.

By the councils own figures this pool is the second most cost effective of the 11 it is responsible for.

The council’s rationale is to close Golden Square as there is an over provision of pools in this area.

This rationale does not take account of the population growth in Golden Square in line with the City’s support for medium to high density housing and the likelihood of future growth in a suburb that is significantly under resourced in relation to parks and recreational areas.

Although the rationale may be that the new facility in Kangaroo Flat will absorb the patrons of Golden Square, we would refute this. We believe we fit very snugly into the Councils 10 minute neighbourhood strategy with easy access for walkers, bike riders and drivers. We welcome and believe we are no threat to the success of the new facility in Kangaroo Flat for the following reasons:

We serve a very different demographic.

As well as casual swimming our patrons use the pool for:

- School swimming lessons and school fun days,

- Sports club training sessions

- Birthday parties

- Barbeques

- VicSwim has a 3 week season which is always fully booked. In 2018 there were 166 participants which according to their 2018 summer report is the second highest number in the state for an inland swimming venue.

This year we had a “Summer In The Parks” event with live music and food vans which attracted more than 800 patrons. We also celebrated our Centenary which was a moving occasion bringing together people from the past and present who have loved and have been committed to this pool which brings the community together. On Australia Day alone we had more than 1200 people through the gate.

Unfortunately when a recommendation like this is made it can never take into account the many intangible benefits to the community of such a facility such as friendships being forged, multiple health and wellbeing effects, the opportunity to volunteer and give back to the community, a sense of belonging where you know who is operating the pool and a safe place for all to relax.

All the above has been achieved by a hard working community committee and volunteers who have been unable to properly future plan as our leases have been for 1 year then 3 years then 1 year.

How long do we need to keep proving to the council that the community is using and values this facility.

Bernadette Wright, President: Golden Square Pool Committee of Management.