At its meeting on Wednesday evening (April 20), Council adopted the Hepburn Shire Aquatics Strategy and allocated funds to complete necessary compliance works and for a detailed feasibility study and business plan for an indoor aquatics facility.
The Aquatics Strategy provides a 10-year priority plan to guide infrastructure development priorities and maximise participation to contribute to the health, wellbeing and liveability of the Hepburn Shire community.
Council acknowledged the strong support within the community for access to an indoor aquatics facility, along with the considerable financial investment required for such infrastructure. “We heard from the community of the desire for year-round access to an aquatics facility, and have acknowledged this in the Aquatics Strategy,” said Mayor, Cr Tim Drylie.
“The strategy recognises there’s more work to be done in terms of detailed planning work for such a facility, including feasibility, business case and funding strategy. As a small rural council we would look to state and federal government for significant support for capital and operational costs for such a facility, but we’ve certainly heard that this is an identified community need,” said Cr Drylie.
The indicative costs associated with implementing the recommendations in the Strategy are estimated to be $5.9 million – $7.98 million. Funding is not currently included in Council’s Long Term Financial Plan and will require external partnerships with State and Federal governments.
The estimated costs include capital works to improve existing facilities and additional advice from independent consultants improve management of facilities and increase participation. The costs do not include the capital cost of a new facility. Indicative costs for an indoor aquatics facility are estimated in the neighbourhood of $15 to $20 million.
In the 2021/22 mid-year budget review, Council allocated $377,000 to commence necessary compliance and OH&S works recommended in the technical report which accompanied the Draft Aquatics Strategy prepared by Otium Planning Group. In part, this work will be funded from unexpended funds in the 2021/22 operational budget for aquatics facilities (approximately $141,000) and unexpended funds in the budget for pool building renewal works. An additional $103,000 will be included in the 2022/2023 annual budget for the necessary works.
An amount of $160,000 will be allocated in Council’s 2022/23 annual budget for an indoor aquatics facility feasibility study and business plan.
A summary of the report, the community feedback on the draft report and the Final Report of the Hepburn Shire Council Aquatics Strategy is available the Council website.