Big plans for Olympic Pool

But don’t hold your breath for hot pools and a learn-to-swim facility.

LAPPING UP OPPORTUNITIES: GDC chief executive Judy Campbell, a former learn-to-swim teacher herself, says a new learn-to-swim pool would not require a large space.

LAPPING UP OPPORTUNITIES: GDC chief executive Judy Campbell, a former learn-to-swim teacher herself, says a new learn-to-swim pool would not require a large space.

A $10 million project to redevelop Gisborne’s Olympic Pool Complex could include hot pools and a new learn-to-swim facility, but children learning to swim now will likely be adults by the time it is completed.

Redevelopment of the 42-year-old structure is included in the Gisborne District Council (GDC) 2015-2025 Long Term Plan as a major project and a business case.

History of the pool
1974: opening of the Gisborne Olympic Pool Complex

1983: 98m hydroslide added

1992: bbq and entertainment areas developed

1994: toddlers pool slide added

1995: main pool canopy structure, commencement of all year use

1996: spa and therapy hot pools installed

1997: ‘bulkhead’ pool divider installed in main pool

1999: alterations to administration block

2002: new children’s playground installed

2002: major repairs to fix leaks in 50m pool

2007: establishment of group accommodation (8 bunk bed cabins) and renovation of Churchill Park camping ground facilities

2007: Gisborne earthquake caused some damage to outdoor pools

2008: Olympic Pool joins ACC PoolSafe Quality Management Scheme and is accredited with ‘PoolSafe’ status

2009: leaking pools repaired (earthquake damage)

2009: installed four designated BBQ areas

2010: installed new 400kW wood chip boiler for pool water heating (replacing gas boiler)

2010: Whanau Fun Day event attended to by 2000+ people

2011: PoolAlone project initiated (dealing with unsupervised children at the pool complex)

2012: renovation of pool canopy structure

2014: A $1 million upgrade to the filtration system completed to improve water quality. Shade sails and canopy installed.

The council’s community development and services committee yesterday recommended a business case, already in development, should include facilities for hydrotherapy treatments and a new learn-to-swim pool.

GDC community and recreation manager Andrew White said the business case study was effectively the first stage of the “current” process around where the council planned to go with redevelopment of the complex.

“I am aware this discussion has been going on for many years. Given we have a figure set against it to redevelop the pool from 2018 onwards, there is a key point that a business case advises council on what it can select in terms of going forward.

“From that, there will be a concept plan developed around the pool and a community process.”

Representatives from the Davies Howard Group, who are conducting the business case study, asked the committee to provide guidance on how it wanted to proceed with hydrotherapy and learn-to-swim activities.

High drowning rate in Tairawhiti
Company director Stephen Davies-Howard said the Ministry of Education no longer did learn-to-swim activities at schools and that Tairawhiti, like the rest of New Zealand, had a high drowning rate.

“There are a few ways that various councils are addressing that, and Tairawhiti has kind of found itself in the position of accidentally getting into the hydrotherapy business, with DHBs (district health boards) getting out of that business.

“The second issue is with the Ministry of Education getting out of the learn-to-swim business. Does the council want to get involved in that business as well?”

Hot pools could also provide another commercial opportunity for the council.

The business case was expected to be completed some time next year but concept planning would still be several years away.

“So children, who are children today, will probably not get to swim in it,” Pat Seymour said.

GDC chief executive Judy Campbell pointed out that learn-to-swim would also provide a commercial opportunity for whoever provided the service. She added this because the pool was ratepayer-funded, rather than by user-pays.

“My guidance to you would certainly be to consider the opportunity and guide you that hydrotherapy, while not core business, would cause an enormous public backlash — should we get out of it?”

Mrs Campbell, a former learn-to-swim teacher, pointed out a new learn-to-swim pool would not require a large space.

Not ratepayer-funded
A $10 million funding allocation had been set aside in the LTP but she said none of that was ratepayer-funded.

“So it’s being perceived as a fully-funded grant process, which means that at the moment there is no real stake in the ground on this.”

Committee chairman Andy Cranston said both ideas provided “very real opportunities” for the council.

Councillor Bill Burdett said he had always viewed the pool complex, along with the city wastewater plant as a “necessity” for Gisborne.

“As against some of those other projects we have planned . . . if it requires $10 million, that’s where we go.”

Mr Burdett said he was glad to see some movement after the council had “procrastinated” over how to upgrade the facility for about 20 years.

Amber Dunn said the council needed to avoid setting up in financial competition with ratepayers.

She also suggested the 50-metre pool should be upgraded to ensure Gisborne could host swimming competitions.

The committee agreed that the business case should assess both issues, while decisions on how each service should be run would be made at a later date.