Anger as council votes to close Black Hill pool

THERE was public outcry in the council chamber as councillors voted to shut down the long-standing Black Hill community pool.

All City of Ballarat councillors, with the exception of Cr Peter Innes and Cr Belinda Coates, voted in favour of the pool’s closure. 

TOP STORY: Black Hill pool's pioneer family fuming at council decision.

Black Hill resident and mother of two Melissa Cassidy called on the council to preserve the pool.

Ms Cassidy said it was critical the council considered the long-standing relationship between the community pool and the Black Hill Primary School.

“The report only considers the dollar figures,” she said. 

“It doesn’t consider the social impacts the lack of the pool will have on the community.

“It is one of the very few council assets we have in our diverse economic population.”

Ms Cassidy said the report also did not outline the sporting infrastructure which would replace the pool if it was closed.

The council agenda stated the Black Hill pool site would require a “significant level of capital expense” to be operational during the 2014-15 season. 

It includes a $90,000 upgrade of the facility’s septic system and water mains and $53,000 for the replacement of the filter system, irrigation and fencing works. The council said it would save $500,000 over the next five years if the pool was closed. 

Cr Innes said thousands of children had learnt to swim at the pool over the years and it was an irreplaceable community asset.

His concerns were echoed by Cr Coates, who said the council needed to consider community health and wellbeing factors in all decision-making.

“We have a whole school community that actively uses this facility,” Cr Coates said.

“It is entrenched in our community and I feel we are mistreating the community attachment to it.”

Cr Coates also said there had not been enough consultation with the school on what impact the closure would have.

Residents inside the chamber yelled in protest as mayor Joshua Morris announced the decision.

Others had to be escorted out of the chamber.

“You can put millions into a new 50-metres pool nobody asked (for) but can’t pay the costs to repair one that is used,” one resident said.

Cr Des Hudson said the Black Hill community had better access to outdoor pools and aquatic centres than most other parts of the city.

Cr Vicki Coltman said the sacrifice of the Black Hill pool was needed to fund facilities for children in the city who did not have access to pools.

melissa.cunningham@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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