THE CITY of Greater Bendigo has too many swimming pools and may soon be forced to make "difficult decisions" about decommissions despite potential community opposition.
Council consultants have issued the warning in a draft document that councillors will discuss on Monday.
Many of the city's 13 aquatic facilities are over 50 years old and lack modern buildings, pool shells, chemical handling facilities and change rooms, specialists at RM Consulting have warned.
"These old facilities often struggle to (or cannot) meet today's standards for equitable access, safety and health, or are inefficient, with high operational costs."
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The last pool the council considered closing was Golden Square's. It had voted on the issue at least three times since 2013.
Each time, community members have campaigned to keep the pool open. It is currently run by volunteers and in 2020 some councillors warned the facility could close if there was a major failure.
Consultants did not mention the Golden Square pool in their report to councillors but did note that communities rarely ask for assets to be decommissioned, "often for fear of losing a service of facility, regardless of the viability of that asset or service".
The report urges the council to work on clearer criteria for managing assets, how to deal with poor performing ones and how to work with communities about what to decommission, either through retirements, sales or other forms of disposals.
"Endlessly accumulating low-performing assets paces an unrealistic burden on Council's resources through increasing maintenance and operating costs," the consultants said.
They expect the council to spend three per cent more money on pools and related facilities every year for the next 10.
That would include spending roughly $375,000 on maintenance and $177,000 every year.
Consultants expect the "renewal gap" - the figure showing the difference between how much money the council should spend and how much it actually budgeted - to balloon 30 per cent to $164,000 by 2032.
Pools are not the only assets the council will need to find extra money to keep managing.
Consultants made their observations in a more wide-ranging draft asset management plan about challenges and opportunities.
It detailed a host of ideas to help the council manage assets over the next 10 years, including parks, pathways, parks, drains, bridges and buildings.
Managing roads will likely take up the biggest chunk of council and ratepayer money.
Sealed roads represent 34.73 per cent of the council's asset base.
Aquatic facilities make up the smallest share at 0.86 per cent of that asset base.
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