THE recently-opened $32.2 million Gurri Wanyarra Wellbeing Centre at Kangaroo Flat surpassed its estimated November patronage figures 14 days early, prompting the council to declare the opening a “success”.
Since it was opened on October 26, more than 29,000 people have passed through the gates at an average of over 1200 per day.
The centre also has 1820 members – above the 1500 members predicted for the opening few months.
City of Greater Bendigo active communities coordinator Lincoln Fitzgerald said the aquatic centre had been able to cope with the number of visitors.
“It’s absorbing those numbers pretty easily, it’s really comfortable,” he said.
“We’ve had school groups through and the place is performing really well.
“We’re rapt with the numbers so far.”
The target for November was 26,500, which was hit last Friday the 16th.
The business case for the aquatic centre – released in May 2015 during the debate over the 25 or 50-metre swimming pool – stated “conservative” annual visitor numbers would be about 450,000 per year with a 50-metre pool, to rise to 500,000 after the “business establishment period” was finished.
The council expects patronage will increase in the months from December to February.
The wellbeing centre portion of the facility has also been introduced “slowly” and marketing will increase in the coming months, which the council expects will encourage more people to sign up.
The centre was originally forecast to cost $30 million, which increased to $32.2 million.
The business case, written by former council director of city futures Stan Liacos, forecast the pool would record an operating deficit of $1.84 million over 10 years. The wellbeing centre was predicted to generate operating surpluses of between $176,000 and $200,000 per year for 10 years.
The cafe and retail areas were predicted to generate operating surpluses of between $169,000 and $207,000.
The construction of Gurri Wanyarra resulted in the closure of the Kangaroo Flat and Long Gully swimming pools, with an option to retain the Golden Square pool which has been subject to multiple council votes to keep it operating.
Bendigo West candidates see future for Golden Square pool
With the future of the Golden Square community pool to be debated again in 2020, and with a council report further analysing its sustainability, incumbent Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards says the pool has a role to play in the local community.
Golden Square pool hosted 18,000 patrons last summer and receives $50,000 per year from the council. The pool committee also holds fundraisers, but uncertainty means it cannot plan infrastructure upgrades.
Ms Edwards said she was hopeful that all parties “can work together” to keep the pool open into the future.
“They are a very passionate band of volunteers who have fought the council twice now to keep the pool open, and I have every confidence that they will continue to fight should there be any threat to close the Golden Square community pool,” she said.
“The Golden Square community itself is very passionate about that pool, it is a meeting place for the community, it is also a place of preventative health because they are introducing a whole range of programs over the summer including water aerobics.
“It’s a social meeting place, it’s a heart of the Golden Square community.”
The matter was discussed during a Bendigo West candidates forum, in which all candidates supported the Golden Square pool.
Greens candidate Laurie Whelan – a former Bendigo mayor – said councils were being forced to reconsider funding for community facilities due to cost-shifting and rate capping policies.
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