Moira Shire Council is seeking community feedback on a draft strategy that will see local communities directly engaged in determining the future for their local pools and aquatic facilities across the next nine years.
Moira Shire Mayor Libro Mustica said the program, broken up into three stages, proposed in the draft strategy created a timeline and opportunity for communities to influence the outcomes for their local aquatic facilities.
“I want to reassure all communities that we are not proposing pool closures,” he said.
“Across the first three years we will work with local communities to promote and encourage increased use of the facilities to achieve key performance targets.
“During this phase the pool will be maintained to current standards and we can test some of the feedback and ideas we have received about opening hours and activities.
“This phase will also help the community and council understand what may be required to support increased use into the future.
“Once the targets are met the pool can move into the second phase where we begin planning for investment at the pool – and it won’t all be about the pool itself.
“In some cases, it may be modernising change rooms or updating the activities that can run at the pool.
“Obviously significant investment will have to take into account available funding, competing local priorities and providing best value to the community and council,” Mayor Mustica said.
Yarrawonga Mulwala Swimming club head coach Lyndon Hart and coach Greg Bye said some small works through Moira Shire’s Capital Works program would ensure added usage to the Yarrawonga Outdoor Pool.
“Making it free entry would get more usage for the pool,” Mr Bye said.
“We would be happy to have a couple more morning sessions with numbers for these sessions being massive,” Mr Hart said.
“We could justify five mornings with the number of people we get to these sessions.”
Currently the pool’s opening times are from the start of December through to March 11 with the following times as follows. Morning sessions - Monday, Wednesday, Friday - 6am -8am; weekdays (school terms); 3.30pm – 7pm; weekends – 1pm – 7pm; weekdays (school holidays) – 11am – 7pm. For days forecast over 38°C the pool is open until 8pm.
“Another thing we think could get more usage to our pool is starting the season a month earlier, we have had the weather to justify opening earlier in recent years,” Mr Bye said.
“Yarrawonga is the only pool in Moira’s strategy that is deemed ‘good’.
“One of our biggest troubles is that we can’t increase our usage if we can’t grant those in our community who have a disability access to the pool, we currently don’t have any suitable disabled access,” Mr Hart added.
“We believe we should have permanent shade structure over the shallow end of the pool as our swimming lessons take part in the afternoon, the hottest part of the day and you have parents standing there watching their child who are then having to stand in the searing sun.
“Capital works on our pool would see an increase in usage.”
Mayor Mustica said the third phase, across the final three years of the strategy, will look at the substantial and generally more expensive capital works that will be required to assist the pool to operate successfully into the future and to meet the future needs of the community.
“Overall this draft strategy is about asking the local community to work with us to map the future for their local pools at Yarrawonga, Cobram, Nathalia, Numurkah and Strathmerton as well as the slide and splash park at Yarrawonga and the indoor aquatic centre at Numurkah,” Mayor Mustica said.
“The strategy also allows for some local flexibility for example a facility may need longer in phase one to reach the targets.
“Most of our pools were built in the 1960s. Today backyard pools, home air conditioning and changing community interests are redefining the use and need for community swimming pools.
“We don’t have the answers to what should happen. We need the community to give us feedback firstly on whether the proposed strategy sounds like a good way forward, and then to remain involved and work with us across the nine-year program,” he said.
The draft strategy is available from council’s website and service centres and community members have until March 29 to provide feedback to council.