A draft report into the future of aquatic facilities in the ACT which suggests a range of action costing millions of dollars over the next 20 years was not government policy, Sport and Recreation Minister Andrew Barr said today.
The report was finished 16 months ago but has not been released for public comment.
It reveals a severe shortage of modern aquatic facilities in southern Canberra, the need for another new facility in the north despite a multi-million dollar centre being built in Gungahlin and a push for the Phillip ice skating rink and swimming pool to be relocated and its current site used for other commercial activities.
The draft Aquatic and Related Facilities ACT Strategic Plan 2011-2030 was completed in June 2011.
A copy obtained by The Canberra Times reveals consultants have outlined a range of areas in the Territory where aquatic facilities are lacking or need to be upgraded and warns that the report's suggested action plan "will cost many millions of dollars over the next 10 to 20 years" and "a long-term funding strategy will be needed".
However, Mr Barr said the document wasn't meant to go out to public comment.
"The strategy is yet to be completed. It is likely that it will be ready to go out for consultation with stakeholders and community groups later in the year or early next year," he said.
"The strategy you're referring to is a draft – as such it was not put out for public comment. Its findings have not been endorsed by the ACT Government, nor is it government policy."
The draft report also suggested that the Government ditch a requirement for a private developer to build two new swimming pools in Deakin in return for building office space on the site of the old Oasis Leisure Centre, should the Phillip pool and Canberra Olympic pool be redeveloped. However, the office block and one 25-metre pool for a private swim school have since opened, dating the report.
Labor has promised to build a $33 million 50-metre pool by 2018 in Weston Creek - the exact location yet to be revealed - should it be re-elected.
The Canberra Liberals have pledged a $15 million pool in Lanyon should that party win office.
The report says based on population size and growth a new multi-feature venue to meet the needs of Woden Valley, Weston Creek and Molonglo residents was needed and a feasibility study should determine the most appropriate location.
It also calls for upgrading and expanding the facilities at Active Leisure Centre at Wanniassa and the Lakeside Leisure Centre in Tuggeranong.
It says despite the approval of the $28.7 million Gungahlin Leisure Centre, another facility will be needed in the area in the next 10 to 15 years and appropriate sites should be investigated in Kenny, Mitchell and the Majura Valley. It further recommends a facility in the south-east of Canberra to tap into the Brindabella Business Park.
The document also suggests the southern side of Canberra has a "substantive deficiency" of appropriate modern aquatic facilities as a result of the closure of the Oasis Leisure Centre in Deakin and the ageing and outdated nature of the Phillip swimming pool . As a result, some health program providers were "resorting to using motel/hotel pools due to the lack of appropriate facilities".
Mr Barr said the Government had recently upgraded the Erindale, Tuggeranong and Dickson pools. It was exploring options for a new pool in Civic. A private operator was already operating a pool at Majura Park near the airport.
And the Lyneham precinct redevelopment also included two new pools as part of a proposed next generation health club.
"In building pools across Canberra it is a matter of balancing the need to deliver these important community facilities, with the need to spend taxpayers' money wisely and manage competing priorities," Mr Barr said.
The report also suggests relocating the Phillip ice skating rink out of the Woden town centre to a more central location such as the Canberra Olympic Pool. It describes the adjoining Phillip swimming pool as "ageing" and "outdated" and questions whether it could ever be brought up to scratch at its current location or should be redeveloped at an entirely new location in Woden.
The report also leaves the door open for the Phillip swimming and ice skating complex to be used for other commercial uses.
Phillip Swimming and Ice Skating Centre manager John Raut said its private owner was spending almost $400,000 on new equipment to provide more reliable year-round ice conditions and provide a minimum pool temperature of 24 degrees.
Despite that investment, the owner was open to working with developers reconfiguring the site so that the outdoor pools went inside, a new ice rink was built and a boutique hotel was also constructed on the block.