Pool plan

The Mt Barker Council has released its staged development for a multi-million dollar swimming and leisure centre.
Planned for land on Bald Hills Road just below the Laratinga Wetlands, the development is a futuristic vision for the facility which has been broken into stages.
The first stage – expected to cost up to $30m – includes a 25m indoor pool with a second indoor leisure pool as well as associated changing and toilet facilities.
The second stage includes a 50m outdoor pool as well as water slides and playing courts.
The plans have been released for public comment and ratepayers will have the opportunity to make suggestions for a month.
Given that the council has just $10m towards the first stage in the form of a Federal Government grant, it is reasonable to assume the second stage will be built a considerable time later.
Full funding for the first stage is currently far from assured and its progression will rely on another significant cash injection from Canberra, before progress on the second stage can even be thought about.
So what do residents want and expect from an aquatic centre?
The present pool on Cameron Road – which has served the community well for over 50 years – is at the end of its life and its failing infrastructure has become a significant drain on council finances.
That pool is closed during winter meaning the community only has access to a public swimming facility for about half the year.
The community has made it clear in the past that it wants a public indoor facility to allow for swimming and pool-related health activities year round.
But the trade-off is that an indoor pool is unattractive to the many casual swimmers looking to cool down during summer.
Given that the council wants to close the Cameron Road pool as soon as possible to stop the bleed of money, the construction of a new community indoor pool may not improve the overall scenario – instead growing winter use at the expense of summer use.
The upcoming consultation period will go some way to establishing what the community considers important.
The challenge will be for the council to marry that with what is achievable.

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