Working group to meet in early 2017
POOLS across the shire opened this week, and the weather turned on the perfect start to the summer.
Council funding of the shire’s four pools, located in Euroa, Violet Town, Nagambie and Avenel, has been a source of consistent debate in recent years, due to their high cost of maintenance and the relatively low number of users.
In the 2016/17 Council Budget, $ 402,200 was allocated for the maintenance of the facilities.
With the pools only generating an estimated $11,300, that leaves a $390,900 deficit for the council to contend with.
Pools are crucial part of small communities during the hot summer, and having them available to conduct swimming lessons for learners is vital to ensure public safety around the water.
The shire sets its performance measures as the number of visits to pool facilities per head of municipal population.
While this figure has improved from 3.3 per cent last year to 4.4 per cent (a figure the council described as ‘high’) in 2016 according to the Shire of Strathbogie’s Annual Report, the sustainability of the pools when continuing to run at heavy losses must be a point of concern for the new council.
Some within the community have called for the Euroa pool to be completely overhauled, with the creation of a heated indoor facility.
Former councillor Robin Weatherald has been a vocal advocate for the upgrading of the Euroa pool for decades.
He believes the overhaul of the facilities, while expensive, is something the council should be looking at seriously.
“The cost to repair the old pool is around six million dollars. For an extra two, we could see the pool complex completely redone, and a new centre built,” he explained during his campaign for re-election in September.
“It’s an expensive exercise, and pools are expensive to run, but it is an investment worth making.
“A new pool will bring not only year–round swimming, but a range of new business opportunities, improvements to public health and wellbeing, as well as increased quality of life to the shire’s ageing population.”
Strathbogie Shire director of asset services Roy Hetherington, said council was looking to ‘reinvigorate’ the local pools, rather than at re-inventing them
“It is no secret that pools are getting expensive to maintain and/ or replace but it is imperative that we utilise an asset the majority of the community are passionate about,” Mr Hetherington said in a statement.
“Strathbogie Shire’s Pools Working Group, consisting of council representatives and community members, is committed to reinvigorating the four pools in our region.
“The group has taken a tour to the pools in Avenel, Euroa, Nagambie and Violet Town and have compiled a ‘ wish list’ of what they would like to see at their respective pools and any improvements that need to be made to retain their lifespan.”
The working group has also conducted surveys, targeting younger residents, which has had over 500 responses.
“The group will next meet in early 2017 to finalise the Shire-Wide Aquatic Strategy (expected mid-year) but will, in the meantime, continue to support council with working bee activity at certain locations and maintain that high level of attendance achieved in recent years,” Mr Hetherington said.