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Council to decide on Aquatic Facilities Strategy at Monday's Meeting

Media release

The Greater Bendigo City Council will consider adoption of the Community Aquatic Facilities Strategy 2023 at its meeting on Monday August 28. The strategy aims to guide planning and decision making on the City’s 12 public swimming pools and one splash park for the next 10 years and features a range of key recommendations and site-specific actions.

The strategy recognises that Greater Bendigo has a high number of older aquatic facilities when compared to other local government areas with the majority located in urban Bendigo. While Greater Bendigo has the most pools by number, it is the urban catchment duplication of services that is highlighted in the strategy with five outdoor swimming pools located within a five-kilometre radius of the Bendigo City Centre.

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 standards to allow them to continue to provide the many health and wellbeing benefits for current and future residents.  The strategy further acknowledges that without change the current assets and service levels will not provide a variety of activities and equipment 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.

Key recommendations of the strategy (which have considered the principles of equity, accessibility, promoting wellbeing, partnering and sustainability) 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.
  • Closure of Bendigo East Pool and relocation of the Committee of Management to Brennan Park. (Bendigo East would remain open until the upgrade of Brennan Park is complete to ensure a high-quality facility for relocation and for the Committee to have suitable facilities without construction disruption.)
  • 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 developed five community principles for decision making for Council to consider as part of the strategy.

Greater Bendigo