PHILLIP Island is one step closer to getting its long-awaited aquatic centre, after councillors announced they’ve narrowed the area down to six potential sites.
Phillip Island Aquatic Centre Fund Committee (PIACFC) secretary Peter McMahon says it won’t be long until the committee gets a chance to look at the sites.
Peter says this term’s councillors have showed the most support for the project, compared to previous councils.
The committee was been advocating for an aquatic centre since 2000.
While all Phillip Island residents live close to a beach, the aquatic centre will have heated pools and offer children a safe place to learn to swim.
“One of our committee members, when she was 60, was taken to warm water exercise classes in Wonthaggi and she was able to turn her life around,” Peter said.
“She was crippled with arthritis, and now she’s active and full of life and it was all put down to utilising that warm water.”
Although, the Bass Coast Aquatic and Leisure Centre is about a 40-minute drive from Cowes.
On Tuesday, August 29, the PIACFC held its AGM.
“We tried to be as positive as we could be with the community because we’re working in a constructive way with council to come up with a site,” Peter said.
“We’re waiting for council to deliver some sites for us to go through criteria.”
The committee created a fundraising page on the Australian Sports Foundation website to raise money for the project.
“The philanthropic donations through sport are incredible. Something like $23 million was given to the Australian Sports Foundation last year in fundraising.
“The money raised won’t be touched until building starts.”
Peter says the Phillip Island Shire Council was very close to signing off on building an aquatic centre on Phillip Island in 1994.
But those plans were binned when local councils amalgamated to form the Bass Coast Shire Council.
Peter says it is not a case of Phillip Island being against Wonthaggi.
He said it is council’s lack of major projects on the island that agitates Phillip Island residents.
“Regardless of permanent population figures, the number of Phillip Island residents is unbelievable compared to the rest of it [Bass Coast Shire].
“On a proportionate basis, forget the number of ratepayers here or in Melbourne, they’re still putting money into the shire.
“We’ve always looked at the entire Waterline area, the complete ring around Western Port; it’s not just for Phillip Island and San Remo.
“The feasibility studies, the designing and development have taken into consideration those areas.”
During next year’s 150th celebrations for Phillip Island, Peter would like to be able to turn the first sod on the block of land for the aquatic centre, or have a block of land with a big sign saying it’s the future home of the Phillip Island Aquatic Centre.
He says it’s realistic and he has received a funding commitment from Flinders MP Greg Hunt.
Council says it is still searching for the $18 million to fund the project.
“There is currently no allocated budget for an aquatics centre on Phillip Island. With an estimate of $18 million for the total development, council will continue to investigate funding opportunities and priorities within the context of the Long Term Financial Plan,” council said in an update on the Phillip Island Aquatic Centre.
“Staging options will be considered in line with available budgets with the lap pool, learn to swim/leisure pool and toddler pool being identified for the first stage.”
In September 2015, council approved the Cowes Activity Centre as the preferred site for the aquatic centre.
In June 2017, the council approved draft plans for the aquatic centre at the rear of the Cowes Cultural and Civic Centre, but said they can be altered to build it elsewhere.