Community win Council approval to heat Olympic Pool

The Coffs Harbour War Memorial Olympic Pool will be heated in time for the 2022 winter season for community use. Photo: Emma Darbin.

 

COFFS Harbour’s outdoor 50 metre public pool at the Coffs Harbour War Memorial Olympic Pool complex will be heated for community members to use next winter.

Coffs Harbour City Council has been investigating heating the community pool since 2020 when pool users approached Council asking for it to be heated, however the pool’s COVID-induced closure last year placed potential heating plans on hold.

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Now that the Coffs Harbour War Memorial Olympic Pool complex has once again been placed in Council’s hands the community and Council have put the issue back on the agenda.

Park Beach resident Julie Coffey spoke for the heating of the 50 metre public pool at Council’s recent meeting on Thursday 10 June.

“For nearly 8 years now I have had the joy of swimming two to three days every week with a group of friends,” Ms Coffey said.

“We the community are now delighted that our city memorial pool is back in the hands of local people (Council) who devote your time and energy and expertise to the advancement of Coffs Harbour and its citizens.

“We thank you for putting the heating of the 50 metre pool back on your agenda.”

Ms Coffey said the benefit to the community of heating the pool justified the cost.

“I can’t think of any other community facility that encompasses the overall benefit for all residents of this great city,” Ms Coffey stated to councillors.

“What other community facility can lay claim to the milestone that it truly represents all groups rich and poor, male and female, australian and immigrant, all decades of the population, new born babies to ninety year old senior citizens, caters to the disabled, the disadvantaged, the healthy, the frail, those in wheelchairs, those recovering from accident and surgery, the school children, the elite training squads all in one central area and accessible to all.”

Ms Coffey said the 25 metre indoor swimming pool could not cater for all of the 50 metre outdoor swimming pool users during the winter months.

“They all deserve to swim through winter too,” Ms Coffey stressed.

“There is a giant hole in the form of a 50 metre pristine pool sitting untouched and unused and all we’re asking for is for it to be heated for four to five months through winter.”

Stephanie Campbell, who has three children who use the pool regularly, also spoke for the pool’s heating at the Council meeting.

“It is a very different place during winter to what it was during the summer,” Ms Campbell said.

“It obviously hasn’t got quite the same feel with the outdoor pool sitting empty most of the time.

“You might see the occasional person in a full wetsuit, but no one else is actually using that pool which is quite disappointing to see.”

Ms Campbell acknowledged that the estimated cost to heat the outdoor pool was “far higher than what we ever thought it was going to be”.

“In saying that, I am still a very very strong supporter even with the cost; I think it’s definitely worth the money that it’s going to cost to heat,” Ms Campbell said.

“I think that the pool benefit, both health and social benefits for the community, are difficult to put a tangible financial amount on but I definitely think it is worth the cost that we’re going to be putting into it.”

The cost to install a heating system at the Coffs Harbour War Memorial Olympic Pool for the outdoor 50 metre pool is around $530,000 for the works and purchase of the system, and the annual operating cost is estimated to be $110,000.

“Everybody that I have spoken to are all on board,” Ms Campbell said.

“The general feeling out there is that ‘yes it’s expensive but it’s absolutely worth it’.

“I really very strongly advocate that we move ahead and get this done.”

Council staff had recommended at the recent Council meeting that the installation of heating for the 50 metre pool be included in a future Council delivery program for consideration.

Cr Keith Rhoades, however, moved another recommendation that Council be more proactive and endorse the proposed heating system for the outdoor 50 metre pool and undertake the project in the 2021/22 financial year.

“Councillors, it’s time,” Mr Rhoades stated at the meeting.

“I think it’s well and truly time that we move forward with this project.”

Cr Rhoades advised councillors that the future Sawtell and Woolgoolga Swimming Pool upgrades incorporated the heating of their new swimming pools.

“Our community is asking for it to be done and for it to be done as soon as possible so that the facility can be used by the great number that use it now from a broad cross section of our community as the users,” Mr Rhoades said of the Coffs Harbour facility.

Councillors unanimously voted to endorse the proposed heating system for the outdoor 50 metre pool at the Coffs Harbour War Memorial Olympic Pool complex, for Council to undertake the project in the 2021/22 financial year in readiness for the 2022 winter season, and for Council to allocate funding for the project from the Infrastructure Renewal Reserve in the 2021/22 Operational Plan.

 

By Emma DARBIN

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