The Greater Bendigo City Council has adopted an amended Community Aquatic Facilities Strategy 2023 to guide the City’s 12 public swimming pools and one splash park for the next 10 years.
The Council adopted the strategy with the following amendments:
- Subject to a suitably skilled Community Committee of Management being established, that the Bendigo East Swimming Pool is retained, becoming a non-heated seasonal pool, following the upgrade of Brennan Park Pool;
- Responsibility for all operations, risk management, asset maintenance, renewal and new investment of the Bendigo East Pool will be the responsibility of the Community Committee of Management;
- Provision of $50,000 in annual funding from Council will be provided to the Community Committee of Management; and
- If a suitably skilled Community Committee of Management is not able to be established, and adhere to the terms of the resolution, that the Bendigo East Swimming Pool is permanently closed.
City of Greater Bendigo Mayor Cr Andrea Metcalf said the amendment would see Bendigo East Swimming Pool operate in a similar way to Golden Square Pool as a non-heated seasonal pool operated by a Committee of Management who would have responsibility for all operations, risk management, asset maintenance, renewal and new investment.
“Subject to a new Committee of Management being formed, the Committee would receive $50,000 in funding from the City each year to operate the facility.& However, if a suitably skilled Committee of Management is not able to be established then the Bendigo East Swimming Pool would close,” Cr Metcalf said.
“The strategy contains a range of key recommendations and site-specific actions and guides the planning and decision making for the City’s swimming pools and splash parks.
“While Greater Bendigo has the most pools by number, it is the urban catchment duplication of services that is highlighted in the strategy.
“The strategy acknowledges that Greater Bendigo aquatic facilities have served the community well for many decades but are now in need of modernisation to comply with current community standards and cater for current and future residents.
“The strategy further acknowledges that without change the current assets and service levels cannot continue to service the community and it is highly probable that the service will be under-utilised, asset failure is likely and ultimately due to rate capping, the subsidy to sustain these assets will be unachievable.”
Other key recommendations of the strategy to take place over the next 10 years include:
- Major upgrades to Brennan Park Swimming Pool including the installation of solar heating, building upgrades and splash and learn to swim area to allow it to open year round.
- Replacement of White Hills Pool with a regional level splash park (in accordance with the 2010 Bendigo Botanic Gardens at White Hills Masterplan).
- Long-term multi-staged redevelopment of Peter Krenz Centre.
- Review seasonal opening hours of Faith Leech Aquatic Centre.
The strategy aims to address the significant and complicated challenges of providing community aquatic facilities including:
- Inequities in existing service levels
- Changing community needs and legislated standards
- Responding to community needs within financial constraints
- Changing patterns of community volunteering
- Some existing facilities no longer being fit for purpose
- Lack of clarity about Council’s role in facilities
In mid-2020 the strategy was released for community comment and this was extended due to Covid-19 lockdowns with additional measures put in place to engage with the community.
In 2022 Council recognised that the majority of feedback received during the community engagement period was related to the Bendigo East and Brennan Park Swimming Pools and as a result agreed to a short-term action prior to any adoption of the strategy.
The actions included a service review of Brennan Park and Bendigo East Swimming Pools and the facilitation of a panel of community members to provide feedback on the recommendations of the service review. The panel was facilitated by an independent consultant and took place in early 2023.
The panel provided feedback on the service review recommendations and five community principles for decision making that Council consider as part of the strategy.