Two-month pool commitment

Cr Elise Wilkinson

We are a nation that loves our swimming and the water, and no more so apparent is this than in our beautiful and wild corner of the world here on the Bellarine.

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending the Senior Victorian Life Saving Championships hosted by our very own Ocean Grove Surf Life Saving Club.

The club has been home to many young locals who have learnt to swim and surf and gone on to guard the beach, sharing that love of the water with the community, so many others can safely swim.

Outside of our beaches, we need aquatic centres for our community to hone their swimming skills and relax and play safely in the water.

We need spaces protected from the often wild and dangerous conditions on our beaches where people of all ages can learn water safety and survival skills.

One life lost on the water is one too many.

This is why it was such a win for the Bellarine community when we opened the North Bellarine Aquatic Centre last year.

Since its opening, we’ve heard from thousands of people that the North Bellarine Aquatic Centre has become a much-loved asset, bringing joy, connection, water safety skills, and health and wellbeing benefits to the North Bellarine community.

However, due to financial constraints, the $15.5 million heated facility had been set to close between April and October.

At our March meeting council resolved to extend the season at North Bellarine Aquatic Centre for the next two months.

This is a big win for the people of North Bellarine and the decision was reached after listening extensively to feedback from residents about the proposed closure.

This means the 50-metre outdoor pool will now remain open on weekdays from 6am to 10am and 3pm to 6pm, and on Saturdays between 8am and 1pm from April 1 to May 31.

An officer report will then be presented to council by May identifying opportunities that enable the aquatic centre to remain open year-round.

I advocated strongly for this position, and I am grateful to my council colleagues for agreeing with my fellow Bellarine Ward councillors to ensure the pool stays open for the next two months.

Council’s initial and ongoing investment in the pool underscores our shared commitment to promoting safety, health, wellness, and inclusivity through quality aquatic infrastructure.

As recent infrastructure projects – including the $64 million Northern Aquatic and Community Hub in Norlane – would indicate, council is dedicated to delivering quality spaces and places where they are needed.

The extension of the pool season for April and May is a testament to council’s responsiveness to community needs. It signifies a triumph not only for North Bellarine but for the broader Greater Geelong community.