Long-awaited facility on cusp of reality
For the past five years the Greater Geelong Council has campaigned persistently and passionately for funding for our planned Northern Aquatic and Community Hub.
This $61.6 million redevelopment of Waterworld and Centenary Hall in Norlane is our top priority community project because it will be transformative for our northern suburbs.
In an incredibly courageous and significant decision, the council recently voted to increase its funding commitment to the hub by a further $21.84 million.
That adds to the $23 million already set aside in our draft four-year budget, taking our total commitment to $44.84 million.
What this means for the community is that this long-awaited facility is now right on the cusp of reality.
Subject to our allocation of $8.26 million under the federal government’s Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Fund being allocated to this project as we’ve requested, it will be fully funded and ready to be built!
Given the amount of funding involved, the council’s decision was a significant one to weigh up and not taken lightly.
But all councillors agreed we needed to take a bold and courageous step to bring to life the most significant community project the City of Greater Geelong has ever invested in.
Put simply, the Northern Aquatic and Community Hub has the potential to change lives in our local community in the Northern suburbs and the broader Geelong community.
The state-of-the-art aquatic and community facility will feature a 25-metre pool, hydrotherapy pool, cafe, gym, early childhood care, rehabilitation services, community hall and more.
An assessment found it will create $111 million in preventative health benefits during its first decade in operation, attracting around 600,000 visitors each year.
And so, the council’s decision to increase its contribution was all about the long-term health and social benefits to our community.
While our quest to secure state and federal funding for this project has been a long one, we have been heartened by strong support from the community, and by the efforts of local members The Hon. John Eren and Victorian Senator The Hon. Sarah Henderson.
The support of John Eren, our state member for Lara, led to a significant $8.5 million contribution from the Victorian Government being announced as part of its 2021-22 budget.
And Sarah Henderson has been and continues to be magnificent with her support and lobbying as we seek federal funding.
Alongside our hoped-for $8.26 million under the federal Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Fund, we’ve also made an application for $10 million in federal funding under the Building Better Regions Fund.
If this application is successful, the council’s required contribution would drop to $33.84 million – reducing the impact on our future budgets somewhat.
Regardless of the final cost breakdown, the most important thing for the community is that this project is no longer just a dream. It is actually going to happen.
We’ll keep you updated as we reach further milestones and hopefully, it won’t be too long before we see shovels in the ground.
As always, if there’s an issue or project you’d like to discuss, please get in touch: [email protected] or 0434 307 044.
Councillor Aitken represents the Windermere Ward, covering Geelong’s northern suburbs and towns, including Norlane.