New pool set to close

North Bellarine Aquatic Centre outdoor pool. (Ivan Kemp) 370001_07

Drysdale’s recently opened aquatic centre faces closure for six months of the year because the City of Greater Geelong can’t afford to keep it open.

The $15 million North Bellarine Aquatic Centre opened in November, but the heated outdoor 50 metre pool is set to close down at the end of the month and won’t reopen until November.

Mayor Trent Sullivan said the centre was “originally intended to be opened year-round, and that’s our aim for the facility when budget allows”.

“Like many in our community, we are facing cost pressures that require difficult financial decisions, and we are currently looking at options for an extended opening while assessing the cost implications,” he said.

Drysdale local Louise Skeen has started a petition to keep the aquatic centre open.

“This means that our brand new local pool will be closed for more months than it’s open – a decision that contradicts its original promise and restricts access to this vital community resource,” she said.

“Regular swimming has been proven to have numerous health benefits including cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength enhancement and also improves social connection and mental well being.

“By limiting access to this facility we are potentially hindering our community’s health and well being.”

Federal Member for Corangamite Libby Coker is campaigning for the aquatic centre to close at the end of April and reopen at the beginning of October, reducing the closure from seven to five months.

“Many residents rely on the pool for recreation, rehabilitation, exercise, and social connection, particularly through the warmer months of the year,” Ms Coker said.

“Right from the outset, my consistent message to council was the community wanted a pool that would be open and accessible on an ongoing basis. Unfortunately, my concerns and the concerns of the community regarding year-round access have proven valid, as evidenced by the dissatisfaction expressed by residents.”

Senator Sarah Henderson the “closure by stealth…represents a betrayal of our community”.

“This wonderful 50-metre outdoor heated pool, funded by the former Coalition government in partnership with council, must remain open all year round as council committed to do,” she said.

“With 24,000 visits since it opened last November, the aquatic centre has proved to be a dream come true and a wonderful asset for the health and wellbeing of our community. Bellarine residents deserve the right to access this facility all year round.”