News / Community / Social / Sport / 5th October 2023
Free pool entry comes with a cost
Casual entry to swimming pools across Warrumbungle Shire will be made free this year, but only during hours when a pool attendant is on duty.
Maintaining a steady number of pool attendants has been a challenge that plagued the 2022-23 pool season and looks to be one that may continue into this season, if pool attendants are not able to be secured.
Warrumbungle Shire Council mayor, Cr Ambrose Doolan said if a pool attendant was not on duty, swimmers would need to purchase a season ticket if they wished to access the pool facilities.
“If we don’t have pool attendants, or if people want to go for an early morning swim or anything like that, they will still need to buy a season ticket,” Cr Doolan said.
“We’re not having free entry at all times without supervision, because we are just a bit worried that if something is free, it’s not valued and there may be antisocial behaviour, so we are only making it free when the pool is supervised.”
Although staffing issues will likely affect the hours swimmers can access the six Shire pools for free, Cr Doolan said he still notched this change up as a win – an effort to stimulate more use for the pool.
As this year’s swim season quickly approaches, Cr Doolan was hopeful that Council would be able to attract more pool attendants.
“Council will provide your training and it only takes three days including first aid and pool maintenance training – and after that, a well-paying job!”
With pools across the Shire re-opening this month, Cr Doolan said an increase in the number of pool attendants would mean the pools across the Shire would be open for longer hours with free entry.
Pools have now been drained, cleaned, and filled up ahead of the upcoming pool season, with Coonabarabran, Dunedoo, and Coolah pools set to open on Saturday, 7 October.
Baradine, Binnaway, and Mendooran pools are scheduled to open a fortnight later, on Saturday, 21 October.
As previously reported in the Coonabarabran Times, one issue that affected the 2022 swim season was chlorine levels.
In an effort to reduce a similar issue this swim season, Council voted to spend $550,000 to bring the electronics and pumps up to date across the Shire.
Cr Doolan said these auto-disinfectant dosing systems would be installed and ready for this year’s swim season.
Going forward, he said Council would continue to look for other ways to structure pool operations, to maximise use of pool facilities while also making the facilities economical.
“The pools are currently subsidised by over $500,000 per year, so we’re asking if there are better ways to organise the running of our pools, and is there a better way to staff them?
“Do we get someone else to operate them, or how can we make the best use of these assets that we’ve got in the community?”
Cr Doolan said he was disappointed the NSW Government scrapped Royalties for Regions, as this was where Council secured $200,000 in funding last year to create designs for future pool upgrades in Coonabarabran.
“There has been quite a substantial investment in the pool over the last year; on top of the $500,000 Council chips in each year, we also put in $500,000 for pool upgrades including the installation of new chlorinators, and $200,000 for new designs – totalling over $1.2 million,” he said.
“This is an indication of Council’s commitment to pools across the Shire.”