5 October 2023

ACT Government should plan for Phillip pool's replacement

| Ian Bushnell
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Phillip pool entrance

Phillip Swimming and Ice Skating Centre: its days are numbered as re-development looms in coming years. Photo: Region.

It is welcome news for the people of Woden Valley that the Phillip pool will reopen come November after being closed for the past few years, especially with a hot summer forecast.

The new owner of the Phillip Swimming and Ice Skating Centre, property giant Geocon, has been true to the lease and done the rectification works necessary for the pool to again be a social attraction for the growing area.

But Geocon is not in the business of operating pools or ice rinks in the long term. It was a strategic purchase giving it another prime site to develop, just across the road from its massive WOVA development now taking shape.

As soon as the ice sports centre is built in Rowland Rees Crescent in Greenway, it can be expected that Geocon will move to develop the Phillip site and close both facilities when it is ready to start construction.

What happens then?

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Under the current lease, the site will still require a pool. But that will likely be a smaller pool as part of the development, and in the meantime, Woden will again be without a significant community facility.

That is something that Woden has had to become accustomed to as one recreation or sporting facility after another has disappeared.

The irony is that the Woden Town Centre population is growing and, with multiple residential towers rising or planned, is set to boom.

They may come with their own amenities such as gyms and pools but these will be private facilities out of sight and reach.

Besides, a small private pool in an apartment complex does not provide the kind of public health and recreation benefits that a public all-year aquatic centre with a 50-metre pool for lap and competitive swimming, smaller pool for young children and other facilities such as a sauna or hydrotherapy pool brings.

The ACT Government can argue it is investing millions in Woden through the new CIT and interchange, and the Canberra Hospital expansion, but the lack of social infrastructure in an area where there will be thousands of new residents is stark.

A community needs more than the cafes, restaurants and bars planned in the new developments, especially considering the thousands of student who will come to Woden for the new CIT.

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Woden Valley Community Council is right to call out the loss of facilities in recent years and the lack of any will on behalf of the government to plan for or pay for any new ones.

Perhaps Woden is a victim of its own geography, not being too far from the city, with Tuggeranong just down the Parkway and Weston Creek/Molonglo to the west.

Yet the government is happy to consider it a transport, education and commercial hub, but not so much a recreational hub.

And why should Woden be the only Town Centre without an aquatic centre?

The government should have a social infrastructure plan for Woden, and a new aquatic centre should be one of the projects on the list, along with a multi-sports facility for basketball, netball and the like.

Grassroots sport and recreation should not be neglected in the clamour for a stadium and the demands of Big Sport.

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GrumpyGrandpa6:26 pm 06 Oct 23

The plans seem to be to fill Woden with apartment complexes, each with their own swimming pools, gyms and communal areas.

I guess they reckon if you want access to a pool, just buy an apartment!

There will be an electoral price to pay for this government’s proactive neglect of community facilities in Woden

The Government has taken a wrecking ball to Woden sporting facilities and has totally ignored the community’s views.

We have lost the basketball stadiums, lawn bowls, pitch & put and no doubt will lose the pool.
None of these has been replaced and kids cannot play sport because there are no facilities.
An absolute disgrace by this Government.

Darryl Kerrigan called, said you’re dreaming.

The regime make plans and announcements, but can’t deliver. They big-noted themselves in the Assembly in May 2021, explaining the importance of long term planning and funding, but they still don’t have a plan for the pool at Civic, so good luck expecting a plan for Woden.

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