NBAC open for winter

The North Bellarine Aquatic Centre will remain open all year round. (Ivan Kemp) 370001_01

Bellarine swimming enthusiasts will be able to enjoy their new aquatic facility all year round after Geelong councillors decided to keep the North Bellarine Aquatic Centre (NBAC) open throughout winter and autumn.

Despite City officer recommendations, the council voted unanimously at Tuesday night’s meeting to keep the centre open at reduced hours between the start of June and the end of October.

Through that period the 50-metre heated pool will open weekdays from 6am to 10am and Saturdays from 8am to 12pm.

NBAC had not been budgeted to open at all from April through October for financial reasons, however a successful urgent business item spearheaded by mayor and Bellarine Ward councillor Trent Sullivan at the council’s March meeting saw it remain open until the end of May.

City officers prepared a report for this week’s meeting offering two options; the first was the reduced hours option adopted by the council this week, while the second was to stick to the current budget and close the outdoor pool for five months.

Officers’ recommendation was to close the pool as planned, citing a cost to ratepayers of $423,723 to keep the centre open.

All three Bellarine Ward councillors – Mayor Sullivan, Cr Jim Mason and Cr Elise Wilkinson – strongly endorsed the reduced hours option.

“The North Bellarine have quickly taken this pool into their heart and are very protective of it and I’m certainly supportive of the motion to keep it open all year round,” Mayor Sullivan said.

“When you see the passion from the community, when you see a petition come across your desk that has over 2000 signatures… I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one that large or that many signatories come across the chamber in my nigh on seven years on council. “

Cr Wilkinson thanked the community for making their voices heard on the NBAC issue.

“We hear from people every day, stories of social connection, of improved health outcomes, of being able to exercise with young adults and children with neurodiversity, that find indoor pools actually really overwhelming,” she said.

“So this is a really important asset in our community. And while ideally I would like to see it open seven days a week and all the time, this is a compromise, and a sound compromise.”

Cr Mason pointed out the Kardinia Aquatic Centre was more costly to keep open than NBAC despite its higher patronage.

“Social equity has been mentioned a number of times, and the Bellarine, over years, hasn’t had the opportunity that others have had for this type of health and contribution to health and wellbeing,” he said.

“This is another service like libraries, like aged care, like childcare and other services, and they cost.”