The Hepburn Shire Aquatics Strategy (draft summary report – Feb 2022) is going to the February Council meeting next Tuesday.

The Report makes seven recommendations for a total cost is estimated at $6 to 8 million – not including an indoor facility. The proposal would  extend the life of existing outdoor pools for up to  10 to 20 years with the potential to extend  opening times.

The report, written by consultants –  Otium Panning Group at a cost of $80,000,  was funded jointly by the Council and the department of Sports and Recreation.

The strategy was commissioned in April 2021 to provide “ … a 10 year priority plan to guide the future strategic directions, infrastructure development priorities, asset management and maximise participation and programming opportunities to contribute to the health, wellbeing and liveability of the communities of Hepburn Shire.”

The consultants reviewed all existing aquatic facilities, consulted with community groups  and individuals.

The council papers include a summary report for a further round of community consultation, prior to Council finalising its ongoing strategy in April.

The report can be accessed from the council February agenda papers –  pages 22 to 167

It is expected that following the council meeting  the draft strategy will be made available  for public submissions and comment..

The Strategy reviewed the current operations at the 3 outdoor pools. Visits to these pools have increased to 20,000 to 25,000 visits since free entry was introduced in 2019.

The  operating deficits for the last 2 years have been $502K and $393K respectively – a cost to council  of $19.84 (last year) per swim.

The recommendations in the review – to be considered by council are:

  1. Maintenance: Undertake necessary maintenance work at the shire’s existing aquatic facilities that were identified in Technical Review audits to meet current compliance and OH&S requirements – estimated cost  $415K to $480K
  2. Management and Operation: undertake a Management Model review – estimated cost  $20K – $30K
  3. Facility Programming and Activation (P&A): The council develop and implement a P&A for each pool – estimated cost  $10K-20K
  4. Asset Management Plan: a plan ot ensure aquatic facilities are maintained in accordance with industry standards – estimated cost  $30K-$50K
  5. Outdoor Pool Upgrades: investigate upgrade options at the Daylesford, Clunes and Trentham pools – infrastructure, additional heating etc – estimated cost  $3.32mill to $4.73mill
  6. Water Play upgrades – Creswick splash park etc – estimated cost  $2mill to $2.52mill
  7. Indoor Aquatic Facility Planning: the need of residents to access an all year round facility has been identified. Funding required for detailed planning work re feasibility, business case and funding strategy – estimated cost  $70K to $120K

The cost to council of retaining the existing facilities and implementing the initial “operational recommendations” (items 1- 4)  is not in the report. But that cost will be at least $1 million in the first year – over $40 per swim (ie little or no growth in attendance until infrastructure and water temperature is at least partially addressed).

Wombat Post readers are encouraged to read the report and participate in the consultation process.  The Wombat Post has sought responses from interested community advocacy groups and expect to publish these in future editions.