A draft report on the region’s swimming pools by a Brisbane based planning consultancy firm is recommending $8.5million in refurbishments to the Bega War Memorial Pool.
Otium Planning Group have laid out a number of recommendations to Bega Valley Shire Council as part of their draft report Aquatic Facilities Review, currently on public exhibition.
The report indicates the Bega pool will “reach the end of its useful asset life” within five years and is in need of redevelopment.
According to Otium, the region’s ageing demographic requires heated indoor water with disability access, low population growth shows ongoing subsidies will need to be paid to pools, and the shire’s low socioeconomic level creates a “high degree of price sensitivity” when it comes to admission pricing.
While the Bega pool is seen to have an ideal location, friendly staff and a popular range of programs, a stakeholder survey found the Bega pool has a lack of water space, poor disability access, outdated change rooms and a lack of shade.
However, not all of Otium’s recommendations on the redevelopment of the shire’s pools appear to be economically feasible.
“The cost of implementing the strategy would most likely be beyond existing resources of council,” the draft report says.
Otium put forward external funding, loan borrowing and savings from “pool rationalisation” as means of paying for the work.
The company’s first recommendation is an investigation into an eight lane 25-metre heated indoor pool with disability access, a 150sqm heated pool, an outdoor water leisure area, kiosk, club room, small viewing area and change rooms, with the current pool site to be demolished.
The report also offered the idea of closing the ageing council-managed Bemboka Pool, fixing leaks in Candelo and Cobargo and lengthening swim seasons and opening hours.
The report states Bemboka swimmers are currently subsidised $22.89 by council per pool visit, compared to the $8.62 of Bega swimmers, $12.69 of Candelo swimmers and $7.14 of Cobargo swimmers.
One Bega respondent to an Otium community survey praised the Bega pool for its great squad instructors, clean environment and friendly service.
Others described it as “run down” and too small to accommodate the region’s school goers and recreational swimmers at the same time.
One single parent from Tathra said the cost was too high and Bega Valley Public School also noted “the cost is prohibitive for some families”.
Otium has also recommended council establish a company with an independent board of directors to manage its swimming pools .
The company does have reservations that possible board members “with the range of skills necessary” may not be available.