“Want to split an Uber to the pool?”
This question may soon become a reality for users of Dickson Pool after the facility reopened for the summer on Monday, 15 November.
Operators say the current decrease in parking options in the area, caused by the Dickson Village development, is going to make finding nearby parking extremely difficult for patrons of Dickson Aquatic Centre and customers of nearby businesses.
The area was already struggling with parking during the pool’s closure for winter, and operators are expecting thousands of patrons a day once the weather warms up and the pool reopens.
Dickson Aquatic Centre spokesperson Taryn Langdon said parking was already at a “real premium” prior to the commencement of the Dickson Village construction.
“We’ve got some concerns around how Dickson in general is going to cope with the influx of people coming to the pool,” she said.
“You can see already just walking through the Dickson precinct that people are having to park a lot further away from where they want to be.”
Dickson Aquatic Centre’s management team is concerned would-be patrons will head to the pools, fail to find a park and then leave, and be deterred from returning again in the future. Of particular concern is the holiday swimming programs which see a number of people coming and going at the same time.
“Our holiday programs, where we teach a lot of kids to swim during the summer, rely on their parents bringing them for their half-hour lesson, and we know its challenging in any case to get a park sometimes, but we’re worried kids will actually miss their programs because they can’t get a park and be dropped off at the pool,” said Ms Langdon.
The operators wrote to the ACT Government about the parking situation in July 2021, and a representative came out to have a look and listen to their concerns. But unfortunately a solution is yet to be raised.
“The reality is we have an issue with not many solutions,” said Ms Langdon.
“We’re having to open with the view that we just need to encourage people to find other modes of transport to come to the pool, but also be patient when looking for a carpark.
“We also have issues for our staff who will need to park in the area. They’re worried they won’t be able to park and come to their shift.”
Dickson Pool has a long, storied history with parking issues, particularly throughout really hot periods in summer. The Dickson Village development will only exacerbate this situation.
Despite this, management is optimistic about the summer ahead, particularly with a number of Canberra’s other public pools closed.
“We feel this summer is going to be better than ever,” said Ms Langdon. “We’ve got six holiday programs running throughout the summer for all those families who have missed out on ‘learn to swim’ during lockdown.”
Construction of the Dickson Village project is not expected to be complete until September 2023, meaning this parking issue will remain for at least one more summer beyond this season.