Council is moving ahead on the provision of an indoor aquatics facility for the Shire.
The Hepburn Shire Council Aquatics Strategy adopted in April 2022 provided a 10-year priority plan that to guide the strategic direction and infrastructure development priorities for aquatic facilities.
A key part of the Aquatics Strategy was the identified need for access to indoor all year-round aquatics provision to support the needs of Hepburn Shire residents. Council accepted that there was a “need” for an indoor aquatics facility – that such a facility was not simply desirable, but was necessary for the health and wellbeing of the community.
In the 2022/23 budget, Council allocated $160,000 for a Hepburn Shire Indoor Aquatics Provision Feasibility Study and Business Case. Solucio consultants have been appointed and a community engagement process has started as part of gathering information for the study. A report is expected in November 2023.
The 2022 Aquatics Strategy was silent on the most appropriate location for a facility and on likely infrastructure and recurrent costs. The feasibility study and business case will primarily address these issues.
Mayor, Cr Brian Hood, said that Council was keen to hear from the community to help inform the process. “We need to carefully consider Council’s ability to fund and operate any potential future indoor aquatics provision opportunities. The community survey will help us fill in some information gaps and get community input into their proposed use of current indoor aquatics facilities and ideas on future indoor aquatics facilities and provision,” said Cr Hood.
At the April 2022 meeting of Council, then Mayor, Tim Drylie, confirmed that is was the intent “to provide year-round aquatics facilities within the Shire” and that “aquatics provision opportunities” did not include the possibility of funding transportation to aquatics facilities outside the Shire.
The business case will also address opportunities for funding an indoor aquatics facility. It is expected that the majority of funding will come from state and federal government grants with smaller contributions from the Shire and community fundraising. The Shire could use current aquatics facility sales to fund a contribution to the capital cost.
Based on modelling by the Daylesford Indoor Aquatic Centre (DIAC) group, recurrent costs for an indoor aquatics facility would be the same or less that the current $500,000 per year that the Shire spends on running aquatics facilities.
DIAC has been advocating for an indoor aquatic centre in Daylesford since 2017. Their efforts led directly to to the development of the Shire’s Aquatics Strategy.
DIAC president, Mark Rak, encouraged members of the community to make their views known by responding to the survey. “This is your opportunity to tell the Shire about where a facility should be located, how far you would be willing to travel and how much you would be willing to pay. The community has been demanding such a facility for over 20 years. Now is the time for everyone in Daylesford and Hepburn to get on board by completing the survey.”
The survey does not directly address the question of location but an open ended question in the survey provides an opportunity for respondents to state their views.
You can complete the survey online https://participate.hepburn.vic.gov.au/aquatics-feasibility-study The survey closes on Friday 24 March 2023.
Questions regarding the survey can be directed to Council’s Sport and Active Recreation Team at email@example.com.
Editor’s note: Tim Bach, Mark Rak and Kate Redwood are members of DIAC and are on the Editorial Board of TheWombat Post. They did not participate in editorial decisions about the publication of this piece.