Cr Bill Jayet says Parkes people want an indoor heated pool

Talk on the need for a heated pool resurfaces in Parkes

Discussions on the need for a heated pool in Parkes have resurfaced again, with Cr Bill Jayet saying it's something that's been "on the cards for at least the last 40 years".

Cr Jayet raised the matter in the Questions and Matters of Urgency section of Parkes Shire Council's March 16 meeting.

"The issue of the much sought-after indoor heated pool facility for Parkes is often raised with me," he said.

"This often goes into the 'too hard' basket but I believe we now need to give this issue serious consideration.

"When I was first elected (in 2016) a heated pool was always first on the community wish list.

"Comments repeatedly made to me indicate this is still the case.

"$10-$15 million was originally quoted on a design a few years ago. If it is out of our financial means, can we look at other options, for example pools in Canberra have a bubble or dome over them?"

Cr Ken Keith echoed Cr Jayet's comments, adding that they had been approached by a private developer to build a heated pool.

"The desire to have a heated pool from the community is certainly there, but the operational costs - not so much the capital costs or grants - are the issue at the moment," he said.

Cr Jayet said that children, our ageing population, those with disabilities or requiring rehabilitation after surgery are just some who would greatly benefit from an indoor pool.

He also attributed the need to the health and well being of residents since there is an increasing percentage of Australians who are inactive.

"Many older residents, particularly those who are regular users of the pool during summer - be it through water aerobics classes that attract up to 60 participants or regular lap swimmers - have expressed disappointment that come season's end they virtually have to go into 'hibernation'," Cr Jayet said.

"Residents want a heated pool in their lifetime."

Council's Director Works and Services Ben Howard, in response, confirmed the ongoing operating costs for an efficient indoor pool made it "very hard to imagine this happening at the moment", estimating that to be in the vicinity of about $700,000.

He also asked where the money would come from in the budget.

"What is going to be sacrificed to make this happen?" Mr Howard said.

"Council completed the initial design report for the construction of the indoor facility which was presented to council in 2018.

"With the availability of multiple grant avenues and savings, council could over time accumulate the capital, however capital is not the limiting factor.

"According to the Office of Environment and Heritage, their report titled 'Energy efficient water heating technology guide for aquatic centres' states that water and space heating can account for up to 80 per cent of an aquatic centre's total energy costs and is the single most expensive operating cost after labour."

Mr Howard said a population drawcard of about 15,000 people would make an indoor facility more viable, which is what the current Parkes Shire population is.

He said it would mean they would need to close all the shire's pools to make it happen, and that a facility looked more realistic in the future with the development of the Special Activation Precinct and other economic drivers that would increase the population.

Cr Ken McGrath said "the only way we are going to be able to afford a heated pool is through a private contractor, and we would also get it a lot quicker than if we did it ourselves".

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