IT COULD take as long as a decade, but two aquatic centres for Bass Coast might become a reality after all.
Bass Coast Shire Council made a major decision last week to move forward with developing a new facility at Phillip Island as well as re-developing Wonthaggi’s ageing leisure centre.
The shire has committed $120,000 in the newly-adopted 2015-16 budget to the Phillip Island Aquatic Working Group to prepare site selection recommendations and the development of a concept plan over the coming months.
A new Aquatic Strategy 2015-24 details both facilities being built in stages over 10 years, with the majority of funding reliant on grant applications.
The full redevelopment of the Bass Coast Aquatic and Leisure Centre in Wonthaggi is expected to cost around $16m, with another $3.2m required for expansion of the site’s health and fitness facilities.
If indoor courts are also developed at the centre, the cost will be even higher.
The development of a new facility at Phillip Island is expected to be substantially less – around $10.8m.
Bass Coast Mayor, Cr Kimberley Brown, said she was happy council could respond to requests from the Phillip Island community as well as give the shire’s existing aquatic facility new life.
“There is substantial cost in developing aquatic centres and they need to be viewed as 40-plus year investments which require detailed planning so that each facility meets the needs of all user groups now and into the future,” Cr Brown said.
“The Aquatic Strategy report also recognised there is no provision in council’s long term financial plan, ‘Securing Bass Coast’s Future’, for the construction of any new major aquatic facility prior to 2020.
“It is, however, important to have plans in place now so we can be in the position to seek and apply for funding should the opportunity arise.”
The council’s general manager of sustainable development and growth, Allison Jones, said the report presented to council noted that there will be a point of difference between the two aquatic centres being proposed.
“Bass Coast Aquatic and Leisure Centre could offer fitness and education options, and a Phillip Island Aquatic Centre may feature health and fitness activities and low impact exercise opportunities for older adults such as hydrotherapy,” Ms Jones said.
“Concept plans have already been prepared for the Bass Coast Aquatic and Leisure Centre redevelopment.”
Island should be first
Those who have campaigned long and hard for a pool at Phillip Island are pleased the council has taken another significant step towards what will be an invaluable asset.
Phillip Island Aquatic Centre Fund Inc (PIACF) secretary, Peter McMahon, said he hopes a decision about where the future facility will be located can be made by August.
He noted, however, that the newly-adopted Aquatic Strategy says there are no funds to building an aquatic centre in the shire until 2020.
“We understand the steps required to obtain funding and have established the first step in our own right,” he said.
“Once we have the decision on the location we will turn our attention to design with the help of council.
“This then gives a better opportunity of obtaining government grants to build the capital infrastructure required within this area of the shire.”
PIACF has already prepared an independent plan for the Island’s aquatic centre to be built as an extension of the current Leisure Centre at Cowes Rec Reserve.
“It goes without saying we believe as Phillip Island has missed out on vital infrastructure over the past 20-plus years and hope as we go forward with our fundraising our centre can/will be the first built,” Mr McMahon said.
“The community, as a whole, has endeavoured to build the Phillip Island Aquatic Centre for many years.
“We know the need is there for both centres, we also know these centres are not cheap to build or run.
“We feel as a community group, which has and is working with council on this project, we should be in a stronger position, given our years on in-depth investigation into this subject.”