Development of Strathalbyn Pool to be investigated

Swimming prioritised: The Alexandrina Council will investigate extending the operating season of the Strathalbyn Community Swimming Pool and options for enclosing the facility. Photo: Alexandrina Council.
Swimming prioritised: The Alexandrina Council will investigate extending the operating season of the Strathalbyn Community Swimming Pool and options for enclosing the facility. Photo: Alexandrina Council.

An extension of the operating season and the development of an enclosure for the Strathalbyn Community Swimming Pool will be investigated by the Alexandrina Council, following a 268 person petition calling for greater access to the facility.

In April, the council received the petition which supported a request to consider the possibility of extending the operating season of the swimming pool to ten months per year.

The pool is currently operated on a seasonal basis for six months between October and April.

The 50 metre, six lane, outdoor pool located in the heart of Strathalbyn has been managed on behalf of the Alexandrina Council by YMCA South Australia for the past nine years.

The pool averages 17,000 to 19,000 attendances over the six month summer period, generally correlating with weather conditions.

According to council documents, the cost per visit to council currently totals about $15 (an industry acceptable cost for an outdoor swimming pool). In comparison, the cost per visit for indoor swimming facilities is estimated at $5.

During the 2019/20 financial year - which was impacted by COVID-19 closures - the pool had 17,688 attendees at a cost of $17.43 per visit and maintained a net operating loss of $308,370.

To extend the season by four months, the council predicts an increased operating deficit of $101,533.

At the Alexandrina Council's August meeting, elected members accepted a motion to consider an extension of operating hours as part of 2022/23 budget deliberations and investigate options to enclose the pool.

Strathalbyn ward councillor Craig Maidment said extending the operating season of the pool would have health and wellbeing benefits for the people of Strathalbyn.

"We don't have anywhere to swim at Strathalbyn [in winter] and we have a pool that the community built..." he said.

"Over 7500 people live in our township... to suggest we go and swim at Mount Barker or come down to Hayborough is absolutely ridiculous. Kids under 17 who don't have a vehicle, how do they get there? They can't."

Fellow Strathalbyn ward councillor Rex Keily was also in favour of extending the operating season and said young people were being forced to travel for swimming training.

"The people of Strathalbyn have often expressed concern that their rates help maintain the swimming pool in Victor Harbor [Hayborough] which is a long way away," he said.

"At the moment we are only looking at further discussion as part of the budget deliberation... I think it's very important we support it."

Councillor Michael Farrier suggested the council investigate options of enclosing the pool, which could result in savings of "$200,000 a year".

Councillor Bronwyn Lewis agreed and said utilising a "plastic bubble covering" during the winter months could be a possibility.

"I lived near the North Sydney Swimming Pool bubble for many years and used it all year round," she said.

"I support this because we are looking at Strathalbyn as a growth area and swimming clubs need to be able to operate all year round."