Swimming pool

The “Strategic review of swimming pools and related facilities in the ACT” was conducted by Leisure Management Consultants Australia P/L for the ACT Bureau of Sport Recreation and Racing.

The report indicated that the southern region (Woden /Weston Creek /Tuggeranong) has a mix of private and public pools and that the Phillip Swimming Pool “…is an ideal location for an aquatic facility to serve Weston Creek”.

In draft capital works programs there is a feasibility study to investigate another pool for Belconnen. The WCCC is aware that commercial operators in Belconnen have objected. As there will be little opportunity to grow the market for swimming pool use in Canberra the aim should be to meet the demand where it exists. Weston Creek residents are unlikely to travel to Belconnen to swim; it just means a lower return for existing Belconnen operators.

The WCCC continued to lobby for swimming facilities in Weston Creek and in March 1999 John Raut of the Phillip Swimming and Ice-Skating Centre attended the regular monthly meeting. John Raut has been the Manager of the pool facility for 19 years and the ice skating rink was established in 1980. He advised that the pool previously attracted between 200,000 and 220,000 people per year (over the 5-month swimming season). Since the Tuggeranong complex had opened this had fallen to 35,000. This compared with the quoted attendance at Tuggeranong of 470,000 pa. The pool water temperature is maintained at 27-deg c.

Mr. Raut advised that the Phillip Pool was an unsubsidized pool compared to Erindale and Tuggeranong both of which received government subsidies. It was indicated that Tuggeranong and Erindale did not meet realistic commercial costs. The building of the ice skating facility was when the subsidy was foregone by the Phillip Pool. Mr. Raut advised that Erindale and Tuggeranong pools had repair and maintenance carried out by the ACT Government and this was not available to Phillip Pool.

Phillip Pool is catering for family groups in the traditional park-like setting of swimming pools. Comment from the attendees was that other pools relied on lap swimmers, family groups, swim schools and aerobics/gyms. The demographics of the local suburbs had a major impact on attendances at Phillip.

Issues for Phillip Pool is the close proximity of a gym and another disincentive for attendance is the cost of parking, which is not an impost on the attendance at other pools.

Specific issues of the pool’s operation include problems with the shower’s heating (a new RINAI system was installed by the ACT government) and possibly the uneven paving was the cause of an accident to a customer (This was repaired by the ACT Government). Bindis in the grass lawn are caused by the proximity of unmaintained open areas nearby as a seed source. The limited operation of the water slide, this operates from 11am to 5pm, is questioned. Given the answers to the above issues it is conjectured that although the Phillip Pool claims it is not in receipt of direct Government assistance for repair and maintenance – this could appear to be contradictory.

There has always been extensive debate on the costs to operate a pool as well as the number of people in a catchment area for a pool to be profitable. The issue of cross funding from gyms/aerobics and the number of people required to support a pool are a continuing source of debate within the community.

The provision of a facility in Weston Creek could be a joint venture with a club, with the possibility of the provision of land by the ACT Government. Any facility would need a capital injection as well as private sector involvement and need to show commercial viability.

The continued future expenditure on Phillip pool in the name of Weston Creek residents is debatable and an issue that requires serious consideration by the ACT Government. The status of lease and the lease negotiations is of interest to Weston Creek residents.

The WCCC is still no closer to securing swimming facilities in Weston Creek for residents.

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