Pool power wins the day

June 14, 2024 BY

THE May Council meeting was a great reminder of the power of community campaigns.

As many who live along the Bellarine would appreciate, the North Bellarine and Aquatic Centre has been a welcome addition to our region.

Earlier in the year, we received considerable community feedback around extending the facility’s opening hours.

We heard this loud and clear and, as a result, we voted to keep the outdoor pool open on weekdays from 6.00am-10.00am and 3.00pm-6.00pm, and on Saturdays between 8.00am and 1.00pm, from 1 April to 31 May.

Just last month at our May meeting, we voted to make these the centre’s hours on an ongoing basis.

We reached this decision, yet again, after listening closely to the wishes of the Bellarine community.

As a result, until Thursday 31 October, the 50-metre heated pool will open weekdays from 6-10am and Saturdays between 8.00am-12.00pm.

The summer restricted season will begin on Friday 1 November with the centre open 6.00am-10.00am and 3.00pm-6.00pm on weekdays and from 10.00am-5.00pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

Then from December until March, the operating hours will extend to 6.00am-6.00pm on weekdays and 10.00am-5.00pm on weekends.

There is a price that comes with keeping the North Bellarine Aquatic Centre open in winter, and the additional $423,723 fee means the total operating cost per year is now $1,046,906, with a deficit of $829,597.

But this only tells part of the story.

For long-time residents of the Bellarine have been forced to travel great distances to access the aquatic facilities they need.

And with the North Bellarine Aquatic Centre right in the heart of our beautiful part of this region, it makes sense not only to keep it open when locals will get greatest use of it, but also when there may be fewer people around.

This is why it is also so exciting that the design of stage two of this facility will soon be commencing.

The City of Greater Geelong and the Australian government have recently executed a funding agreement, paving the way for the start of the design process for the $40.3 million project.

A concept for this second stage – which features an indoor aquatic centre to be built alongside the 50-metre heated outdoor pool delivered in stage one – was endorsed by Council last year.The detailed design, which will also include a gym and group exercise studios, a café and social space and changerooms, will help prepare for the project to begin construction works, which at this stage are penciled in to start late in 2025.

I am so grateful for the support of both the federal and state government for this project.

Stage two of the North Bellarine Aquatic Centre has been supported with $20 million from the Australian Government’s Priority Community Infrastructure Program, while the Victorian Government has also committed $20 million.

Council will contribute the remaining $300,000, and I am proud of our ongoing involvement and support of this and other infrastructure projects throughout Greater Geelong and the Bellarine.

Cr Elise Wilkinson

Bellarine Ward,

City of Greater Geelong