Future of outdoor pools: Campaspe Shire

Tongala pool 2021.jpg

Following discussion and debate on the future of outdoor pools Campaspe Shire Councillors agreed last night unanimously not to consider a decision until individual township facility plans are completed.

Campaspe Shire has eight aquatic facilities, seven outdoor pools and one indoor facility. A review of aquatic services started in 2013 with Council adopting an agreed position in April 2016, and reaffirming the position in 2019.

Mayor Cr Chrissy Weller said the reviews have all been driven by a number of challenges including the:

  • Age, condition and number of facilities, noting facilities range in age from 40 to 90 years.
  • Increasing operational costs for maintenance, power, water, chemicals, staff, cleaning, etc.
  • Changing population demographics and community expectations.

    In 2019, Council agreed to extending the timeframe for a decision to the end of 2021. In the meantime, Council authorised for essential operational and maintenance works at outdoor pools to continue, until their future was determined.

“Council has now agreed to a way forward, with actions and timeframes, as well as prioritising funds for any immediate maintenance works to ensure outdoor pools remain operational,” the Mayor added.

In summary the recommendations included:

  • Council will not consider the future of the Stanhope, Tongala, Colbinabbin, Lockington, Rochester, Rushworth and Kyabram outdoor pools until Township Facility Plans are completed for each of these townships.
  • Where Place Based Plans have not been developed, new plans are prepared concurrently with Township Facility Plans, to be completed by May 2023.
  • A Deliberative Engagement Plan be developed focusing on the consultation required with the community on the future of pools, to be presented to the April Council meeting.
  • Refers adequate funds to the 2022/23 Budget to support the development of Township Facility Plans and Place Based Plans.

In August last year Council agreed that Township Facility Plans be embedded with all newly developed Place Based Plans. Through the Place Based Planning approach, Council engages and collaborates with local communities to understand their needs, priorities and future aspirations. Then together, they develop a Place Based Plan to capitalise on the strengths of a township and improve community infrastructure to create a distinctive and sustainable place. By including Township Facility Plans in this process, all existing Council-owned buildings and assets in the community are reviewed, looking at how they meet community needs now and into the future.

To date, Place Based Plans have been developed for Rochester, Kyabram and Stanhope and will now need to review the plan and include a Township Facility Plan. The process is just starting for Tongala and Colbinabbin, where both plans are already underway.

“On behalf of Councillors, I thank residents for their passion and interest in the future of their outdoor pools and look forward to Council and the community progressing Place Based Plans and Town Facility Plans in line with the Council resolution,” Cr Weller said.

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