A way for­ward for our pools

Euroa Gazette - - FRONT PAGE -

WORK has be­gun on the de­vel­op­ment of the Strath­bo­gie Shire Com­mu­nity Pools Strat­egy with Otium Plan­ning Group ap­pointed to un­der­take the strat­egy.

The Strath­bo­gie Shire Com­mu­nity Pools Work­ing Group re­cently met with Otium Plan­ning Group and will pro­vide an im­por­tant ref­er­ence point as the strat­egy ad­vances.

Strath­bo­gie Shire mayor and Com­mu­nity Pools Work­ing Group chair Amanda McClaren said coun­cil iden­ti­fied the need for a strate­gic re­view of its pools after an in­ter­nal as­sess­ment revealed the ag­ing in­fra­struc­ture of ex­ist­ing pools would re­quire sig­nif­i­cant ex­pen­di­ture and up­grade in com­ing years.

“The strat­egy will look at each of the four pools and iden­tify what op­por­tu­ni­ties ex­ist to im­prove or fur­ther de­velop these fa­cil­i­ties. At the com­ple­tion of the strat­egy coun­cil and the com­mu­nity will have a clear vi­sion for the longer term de­vel­op­ment of pools in the Shire,” Cr McClaren said.

The strat­egy is ex­pected to be com­pleted in early 2018 and will in­volve an ex­ten­sive com­mu­nity en­gage­ment com­po­nent which will build on feed­back al­ready re­ceived from the com­mu­nity.

“In de­ter­min­ing fu­ture op­tions for our pools it is nec­es­sary to con­sider the whole pic­ture which in­cludes a thor­ough as­sess­ment of op­er­at­ing and cap­i­tal ex­pen­di­ture, pa­tron­age and the con­di­tion of ex­ist­ing pools. The chal­lenge is to then bal­ance these fac­tors against the com­mu­nity’s needs and ex­pec­ta­tion.

“Our pools pro­vide enor­mous ben­e­fit to our com­mu­ni­ties’ health and well­be­ing and al­low for valu­able so­cial and recre­ation ex­pe­ri­ences and so it is in­te­gral that we un­der­take the nec­es­sary plan­ning to en­sure both their sus­tain­abil­ity and vi­a­bil­ity.

“There were more than 40,000 vis­its to the Avenel, Euroa, Nagam­bie and Vi­o­let Town pools dur­ing the 201617 pool sea­son which highlights the ex­tent to which the com­mu­nity en­joy and value these fa­cil­i­ties.”

Coun­cil has started dis­cus­sions to source ex­ter­nal fund­ing to al­low for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of key out­comes to come out of the strat­egy and will con­tinue to lobby the State and Fed­eral gov­ern­ments for fu­ture fund­ing.

“The abil­ity to be able to fund any fu­ture de­vel­op­ment or up­grades iden­ti­fied at the com­ple­tion of the strat­egy is crit­i­cal and will re­quire a financial con­tri­bu­tion from other lev­els of gov­ern­ment,” she said.

“The Com­mu­nity Pools Strat­egy al­lows us to be a se­ri­ous con­tender in fu­ture grant ap­pli­ca­tions, which is nec­es­sary to move for­ward with any de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties that may be iden­ti­fied.”

The Com­mu­nity Pools Work­ing Group was formed to look at pools within the shire holis­ti­cally and have met reg­u­larly since its in­cep­tion.

“I would like to sin­cerely thank all the vol­un­teers in­volved in the Pools Work­ing Group for their ded­i­ca­tion, ideas and com­mit­ment to their own com­mu­nity pool and the wider Strath­bo­gie Shire Pools Work­ing Group. Their in­put and pas­sion has been both valu­able and in­spir­ing,” Cr McClaren said.

The work­ing group ini­ti­ated a com­mu­nity sur­vey in early 2016 which was pro­vided to all house­holds in the Shire and re­ceived 864 re­sponses. A sep­a­rate sur­vey was con­ducted of school stu­dents within the Shire. Over 38 per cent of sur­vey re­spon­dents ranked pools as a top five pri­or­ity area for Coun­cil.

The next phase of com­mu­nity con­sul­ta­tion will take place in com­ing months and will build on the feed­back re­ceived through the ini­tial com­mu­nity sur­vey.

Cr McClaren said the group was ex­cited to be able to draw on the knowl­edge and ex­per­tise of the Otium Plan­ning Group who are in­dus­try lead­ers in the de­vel­op­ment of aquatic fa­cil­i­ties across Aus­tralia and fur­ther afield.

NEW POOL PLAN: (from left) Felic­ity Ed­wards, Wendy Dus­tan, Strath­bo­gie Shire chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Steve Craw­cour, Kate Mad­dock, Cr Mal­colm Lit­tle, Jas­mine Ket­tels, Ni­cholas Bradley, Tif­fany Ellis, Jeff Mo­ran, John Thomp­son and Strath­bo­gie Shire man­ager of as­sets Bruce Braines.

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