Councillor advocates to change new indoor pool's design

COUNCILLOR John Burt is driving a last-minute bid to redesign Ballarat’s 50-metre indoor pool, saying a uniform depth would have far more potential as a community resource.

But construction of the $9 million pool is due to start at the Ballarat Aquatic and Lifestyle Centre on

March 12, with a variable depth of 1.35m to 1.85m already signed off.

Cr Burt said he was advocating for a constant deep water pool of 1.85m as he believed it would attract more users.

At Wednesday’s council meeting, deputy mayor Des Hudson called for a report investigating both options.

His motion was unanimously supported by the council, with no discussion and the report will be presented on March 13.

“Despite the swimming pool tender having been announced with a variable depth, there are some interested city councillors that would see that changed to a constant depth of 1.85 metres,” Cr Hudson, a member of the council’s 50m pool advisory committee, told The Courier yesterday.

“I would have thought there was every opportunity for those particular points of view when the item came into the chamber two weeks ago and councillors formally adopted the tender for

Nicholson, not at the eleventh hour when the contractor is about to take possession of the site.”

Explaining the call for a constant depth facility, Cr Burt said it was required for water polo and water running, with the potential for canoe and kayak clubs to also use the indoor pool for training.

“The whole aim of the 50 metre pool is to make sure it’s a community resource,” he said.

“I believe there would be far more potential for it at this stage. There have been letters from Water Polo Australia saying how excited they are Ballarat’s going to get this and they would be interested in setting up teams in this particular area.”

Cr Burt said depth was determined by the 50m pool advisory committee and he didn’t know why other options had not been raised for debate earlier.

The 50m pool advisory committee includes three councillors, representatives of the YMCA and swimming clubs and prominent local swimming identities.

Cr Hudson said the committee considered both alternatives with the majority voting in favour of the variable level – which allowed

multiple program options for the pool and provided a diverse and family friendly environment.

State swimming championships, water running, water polo, kayaking and canoeing could also be adequately catered for in the space, he said.

It was felt a range of users – including young children and adults who were poor swimmers – would not be able to use a deeper pool.

A constant 1.85 metre depth would enable the city to host national and international swimming events, but Cr Hudson said these were unlikely as the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre already had all the facilities to put them on.

Wider community consultation was not part of the committee’s decision-making process.

Cr Hudson said as the officers prepared their report in the coming weeks, residents were encouraged to contact the councillors personally to have their say.

rachel.afflick@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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