Campaspe Shire Council adopts pool strategy

By Lachlan Durling

AN INCREASED number of required lifeguards at pools will force Campaspe Shire Council to spend about $145,000 more per year to keep the district’s aquatic centres open.

At a special meeting last Wednesday councillors resolved to increase lifeguard supervision to a minimum of two people at all pools in Campaspe Shire and reduce pool operating hours to minimise cost increase.

The change to lifeguard numbers was introduced by the Royal Life Saving Society of Australia and came into effect from September this year.

“We had a difficult decision and had two options – accept this as just a recommendation or act on it to improve safety,” councillor Kristen Munro said.

“I commend council staff for coming up with an option that allows pools to continue their operation.

“There have been some issues over the years – these are changes to bring the best possible outcome for the community.”

The new guidelines no longer prescribe one lifeguard per 100 patrons and consider factors such as response times, line of sight, patrons’ swimming ability as well as the distance to emergency services.

Two options were proposed, keep the current temperature operating procedure and increase all pools to two lifeguards at a cost of more than $288,000 or reduce the operating hours of pools at a cost of about $145,000.

Councillors resolved that to reduce the cost impact, changes will be introduced to the temperature operating procedure and opening hours.

The temperature operating procedure previously saw outdoor pools opening when the temperature was 20 degrees or higher.

For the 2019/20 season this will be changed to opening at 25 degrees or higher.

Daniel Mackrell was the only councillor opposed to the motion, suggesting council cough up the money for additional lifeguards with the same operating temperatures.

“If we keep making it harder for the community to access our pools, what is the next step? Total closure?” he said.

“Let’s spend the money and keep our pools open for the community.”

Council has data showing on average seven people use an outdoor pool in cooler weather and the adjustment will affect about 14 days throughout a season.

These changes will not affect swimming club sessions, private bookings or programs.

The opening hours across the seven outdoor pools have also been reviewed and will be changed to provide consistency of opening times.

School term: Kyabram and Rochester: weekdays 6.30 - 8am and 3 - 7pm, weekends 1 - 7pm.

Colbinabbin, Lockington, Rushworth, Tongala, Stanhope: every day 3 - 7pm.

School holidays: Kyabram and Rochester: weekdays 6.30 - 8am. Weekends 1 - 7pm.

Colbinabbin, Lockington, Rushworth, Tongala and Stanhope: every day 3 - 7pm.

In readiness for the summer season, the Colbinabbin and Lockington pool shells have been repainted and all pool sites spring cleaned.

All pools open on November 9 and close the long weekend in March.

To support the need for increased lifeguard supervision, council has been actively recruiting qualified lifeguards across the past few months.

Casual positions are still available, with information available on council’s website.