A survey question that floated the possibility of the Dickson pool becoming a year-round facility has alarmed some people in the community but the management has stressed this would not be at the expense of the park-like grounds that are integral to its identity and popularity.
Dickson Aquatic Centre spokesperson Taryn Langdon said the idea of an indoor facility available all-year round was not new but after enquiries from patrons, it was decided to include a couple of questions about the future of the ACT-Government-owned pool in the annual customer survey posted on its website.
It asked: How would you like to see the Dickson Aquatic Centre evolve over the next decade? The available responses were:
The current management has run the pool for 21 years and take pride in the way the facility has developed to become an Inner North icon.
Ms Langdon said the grounds with its large trees, lawn, barbecues and shade set it apart from other facilities and the management would not want to see that change.
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She said one option could be to add on a 25-metre indoor pool and hydrotherapy facility as part of an overall upgrade to the amenities, including the dressing sheds that are 60 years old.
She believed this could be achieved without encroaching on the grounds.
Such an upgrade would cost about $10 million, requiring a significant investment from the Government.
Ms Langdon said the management would only support a proposal that had strong community backing, but was glad the survey questions had got people talking about the pool’s future.
Dickson Residents Group convenor Jane Goffman said the response to the survey showed how much people cared about the Dickson pool but with the Inner North’s population set to explode, she believed demand for a 25 -metre year-round pool would be huge.
She said the precinct had always been a land bank for recreational facilities and community services so it was logical for the pool to expand.
The Association supported a combined indoor/outdoor option that would retain the pool’s unique setting, which she called a ‘piece of paradise’.
Ms Goffman believed the survey was a genuine opportunity to make the case to Government for an upgrade that would give the community the best of both worlds.
“The reaction that comes when you start to talk about possibly changing it to equip it for the future reflects how deeply people care, and that’s a really positive thing because it shows how attached people have become to that asset,” Ms Goffman said.
As a town planner, she said a public facility like Dickson pool was crucial to the local community and was a part of Australia’s egalitarian ethos. Canberra might not have the beach but it had the pool, she said.
“All the Inner North is going to ramp up in a big way. People need places to go that are open air and where they can actually mix with other people. That’s one of the really important functions that a public pool provides,” she said.
The ACT Government said it was not currently considering upgrading the Dickson Aquatic Centre.
“If the ACT Government was to consider an upgrade, we would first need to commission a feasibility study to forecast demand for an all-year facility, identify construction and cost options and undertake community consultation,” a spokesperson said.