|21 September 2016
The West Coast Council has reviewed its swimming pool operations and will open the three pools, located in Zeehan, Rosebery and Queenstown, under a new system for the upcoming 2016-2017 season.
The review was required following a fifty percent reduction in the pool budget for this financial year.
“Traditionally our three pools have cost in the vicinity of $400,000 to operate per season,” West Coast Mayor Phil Vickers explained.
“This equates to approximately $42 per swim based on attendance figures. It meant that every ratepayer was contributing $88 of their rates towards the pool operations. That cost is unsustainable and unfair on the ratepayer and when adopting the current budget the allocation provided to swimming pool operation was reduced to $200,000.” The Mayor said.
Council staff were given the task of developing a pool operation option that would meet the reduced budget. Extensive analysis of attendance data, commissioning of pool audits, budget forecasting and various operating options were workshopped over several months before a preferred option was adopted.
Analysis of data indicated:
- An average of 5802 people used the Queenstown pool each season (excluding public holidays), equating to an average of 37 people per day
- An average of 2331 people used the Rosebery pool each season (excluding public holidays), equating to an average of 15 people per day
- An average of 1698 people used the Zeehan pool each season (excluding public holidays), equating to an average of 11 people per day
The adopted operating option will see the West Coast Swimming Pools operate during the following dates for the 2016-2017 season:
- Queenstown Swimming Pool open 1 December 2016 to 28 February 2017 (closed every Thursday in December and February);
- Zeehan Swimming Pool open 1 December 2016 to 31 December 2016
- Rosebery Swimming Pool open 1 February 2017 to 28 February 2017
“Whilst this is a reduction in the opening dates, Council believes this is the most appropriate operating option for this season,” Mayor Vickers said. “Attendance figures indicate that Queenstown is by far the most utilised pool however opening the Rosebery and Zeehan pools for a month each allows West Coast schools to deliver their swimming programs with minimal disruption.”
A key priority for Council was ensuring West Coast schools were able to meet requirements for swimming and water safety programs, with staff liaising with the Department of Education and all West Coast school principals throughout the process. Significantly the West Coast is one of few municipalities not charging schools for pool hire during swimming programs and agreements are being negotiated regarding future hire charges.
“Council is appreciative of the cooperation received from all West Coast schools over recent months,” Council General Manager Dirk Dowling said. “The understanding of school staff regarding the need to cut costs associated with operating the pools and their willingness to work in partnership with Council and other schools has allowed for a less problematic review process than may otherwise have occurred.”
Other changes to be introduced for the 2016-2017 pool season include:
- Pool entry to be by gold coin donation
- No early morning swimming
- Pools closed on public holidays
- A slight reduction in opening hours, with the pool opening from 2pm to 6pm on weekdays and from 11am to 6pm on weekends and during school holidays
Council understands the changes will take some adjustment for the community, and perhaps raise some questions, however believes residents will understand that continuing operations as in previous years was no longer possible, with Council needing to balance operating efficiently with providing services to the West Coast community.
“Council usually receives only around $24,000 per year from pool entry fees. A reduced pool season and operating hours will of course see a reduction in pool entry fees however we believe now is the time to trial something outside the box and see if it works, Mr Dowling said. “We are confident people will understand the changes made and will see the value in making a gold coin donation for a swim.”
The review is in line with the community vision adopted in the West Coast Community Plan 2025 and with operating more than one swimming pool rare for a Council the need to plan appropriately for the future of swimming pool facilities on the West Coast has been recognised.
“We look forward to continued partnerships with key stakeholders such as the West Coast schools, swimming club and pool patrons and anticipate further discussions to explore options for the future of these facilities,” Mayor Vickers said.
“Council remains committed to providing community spaces and infrastructure and sustainable pool operations will remain a key focus,” the Mayor said.