Both the 50 and 25-m pools at the Gungahlin Leisure Centre will be out of action for the winter, with the smaller program pool closing this month for maintenance.
The ACT Government said routine maintenance work on the program pool was due at the end of 2022 but to reduce peak season disruption at the Centre; it would close from 16 May so works could take place over winter.
The government statement said tiling on the 50 m pool was almost complete but the rest of this work would have to wait until the program pool maintenance was done, on the advice of engineering consultants.
A government spokesperson said it was aiming for completion in August but it would have a clearer understanding of this date once the maintenance on the 25 m pool’s balance tank is completed in about eight to 10 weeks.
The final phases of work on the trouble-plagued 50-m pool included installing the tiling system and then applying a waterproof membrane, which will need to cure for three weeks before the pool is filled, the spokesperson said.
Filling the pool would then take about four weeks because large pools such as this one must be filled and then heated gradually to manage thermal changes to the pool tiling and structure.
In January the government said the reopening of the 50-m pool, tentatively scheduled for the end of the summer, would be delayed again until mid-2022 due to the impacts of COVID-19 restrictions on resourcing for the project.
It has been nearly two years since the pool closed when leaks were discovered during regular maintenance. The repair bill so far is $1.75 million.
Hydrostatic testing of the pool shell – filling the pool with water and letting it sit to test for leaks – was completed over the Christmas holiday period and the results allowed tiling work to begin.
Another delay plus the closing of the 25-m pool, which young families use and where Learn to Swim and fitness classes are held, is a further blow to the Gungahlin community.
The $28.7 million Leisure Centre is only eight years old but the main pool has hardly been used in recent years, attracting withering criticism from the Liberal Opposition, particularly Yerrabi MLA Leanne Castley.
She said on Tuesday that it was infuriating that the Labor-Greens government still refuses to tell the Gungahlin community when their pool will reopen.
“Today’s update is a further blow for Gungahlin residents with the news that both the 50-m pool and the program pool will be shut,” she said.
“Given that most of the tiling work on the 50-m pool has been done, it is ridiculous that the government has put this on hold while it does routine work on the program pool.”
Ms Castley said it was a slap in the face for Gungahlin swimmers and families who continue to trek hundreds of kilometres each week to swim laps.
It was also infuriating that the government thanked locals for their ‘understanding and support’.
“The government has no idea how angry and frustrated residents are at this debacle and losing a significant community asset, particularly as the government has been telling Canberrans during COVID to look after their health and wellbeing,” she said.
“Yerrabi is the only ACT electorate without a minister to represent it and this saga shows how the government has neglected Gungahlin and turned its back on residents.”
The Leisure Centre said all aquatic memberships, Learn to Swim enrolments and family memberships will automatically be suspended for the closure period and these customers will not be charged.
Customers with fitness memberships that include pool access and aqua aerobics could suspend their membership by notifying centre staff no later than COB on Thursday 5 May.
Other fitness areas would remain open.