City wants feedback on aquatic centre’s second stage

November 24, 2021 BY

A concept image for the two-stage design for the North Bellarine Aquatic Centre.

THE City of Greater Geelong is pressing on with its plan to build an outdoor pool in Drysdale, despite calls to halt the process and build an indoor pool instead.

Public consultation has opened on the North Bellarine Aquatic and Leisure Centre’s stage two, which could feature indoor heated pools, a gymnasium, and wellness centre.

The city has released tenders for stage one, which will be a $15.5 million outdoor 50-metre pool jointly funded by the City of Greater Geelong ($5.5 million) and a $10 million election commitment made by then-Liberal member for Corangamite Sarah Henderson in 2019, and is expected to open in late 2022 or early 2023.

On October 6, incumbent Labor member for Corangamite Libby Coker pledged a further $20 million towards the North Bellarine Aquatic and Leisure Centre if Labor won the coming federal election and urged the city to halt and review its tender process for the 50-metre outdoor pool, saying the funding could be combined to create a $35.45 million facility with an 50-metre indoor pool.

The city says community feedback on stage two will be used to develop concept plans to advocate for $45 million in funding support from the Victorian and federal governments.

City of Greater Geelong mayor Stephanie Asher, who is also the Liberals’ endorsed candidate for Corangamite in the coming federal election, is quoted at length in the city’s November 10 announcement.

“Delivering both indoor and outdoor heated pools is based on extensive planning, consultation and the identified need for a new centre for the north Bellarine community, including more than 3,500 students who attend local schools adjacent to the site,” Cr Asher said.

“This is not about delivering an indoor pool or an outdoor pool, it’s about advocating for the right aquatic products and the best service possible for the North Bellarine community.

“The city is delivering on its executed funding agreement with the Australian Government for an outdoor 50-metre facility and is on track to award the construction tender by the end of the year.”

Ms Coker continues to insist Labor’s plan, if it wins the federal election, is feasible.

“The current council two-stage plan is incredibly expensive, will cost taxpayers dearly, and is not environmentally sustainable,” she said.

“The mayor must consider both the type of facility and the overall cost to the taxpayer. Building a two-stage pool to suit an election timetable and an announcement just before a coming federal election is incredibly selfish and financially irresponsible.

“Everyone can see the mayor has a clear conflict of interest. She is putting her own interests and the interests of the Liberal Party ahead of ratepayers’ interests.”

City of Greater Geelong chief executive officer Martin Cutter said under the Local Government Act, Cr Asher’s status as mayor meant she was the council’s principal spokesperson, and as such she was “entitled to all information distributed to councillors unless the councillor resigns or ceases to be qualified as a councillor for another reason described in the Act”.

Consultation on stage two closes at 5pm on December 12. For more information, head to the City of Greater Geelong’s website.

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