Help shape future of district pools

By Cobram Courier

Moira Shire Council wants community feedback on a draft strategy which will see communities determine the future of local pools and aquatic facilities during the next nine years.

Moira Shire Mayor Libro Mustica said the program, broken up into three stages as proposed in the draft strategy, created a timeline and opportunity for communities to influence the outcomes for 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, while feedback and ideas received about opening hours and activities will be tested.

‘‘This phase will also help the community and council understand what may be required to support increased use into the future,’’ Cr Mustica said.

‘‘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,’’ he said.

The third phase, across the final three years of the strategy, will look at the substantial and generally more expensive capital works required to help operate the pool 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 Cobram, Nathalia, Numurkah, Strathmerton and Yarrawonga as well as the indoor aquatic centre at Numurkah and the slide and splash park at Yarrawonga,’’ Cr 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,’’ Cr Mustica said.

‘‘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 the council’s website and service centres, and community members have until March 29 to provide feedback to the council.