10 November 2022

Diving pool at Stromlo being explored as ageing Civic Pool's costs balloon

| Lottie Twyford
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Stromlo Leisure Centre

Stromlo Leisure Centre is the apparent site for a new diving pool in Canberra but details are scarce. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

The Territory government is in the initial stages of exploring how a dive pool could be built at Stromlo Leisure Centre as the cost and difficulty of maintaining Civic Pool continue to worsen due to its age.

Sports Minister Yvette Berry said feasibility work was underway as the government explored Stromlo Pool as an option, but she didn’t have many details at this point, including whether it would require constructing a new building or could somehow fit in the existing footprint of the leisure centre.

Ms Berry said plans for a diving pool had always been part of Stromlo’s future but had not happened in Stage One.

It was reported at the time building a deep pool could cost $7 million.

Yvette Berry

Sports Minister Yvette Berry said she didn’t know how a dive pool would fit at Stromlo Leisure Centre, but feasibility work was underway. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Ms Berry was this week unable to set out any kind of timeline as to when the community could expect the city pool to be closed for use.

She noted the now-60-year-old Civic Pool required significant maintenance work to keep it open and safe, but this was becoming increasingly expensive.

Initially, there had been talks of building a city stadium on the site of the current pool, but these have now been ruled out largely due to the expense of shifting Parkes Way.

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At the moment, the government has no plans for the site.

“The pool at Civic will receive funding for a little bit longer while we work on plans,” Ms Berry told annual reports hearings on Monday (7 November).

“It is still going to be used as a pool … but it does have a limited use and it is a very old facility so it does need replacing.”

She said no “turn off” date for the pool was set in stone as she understood it was important for the community to still be able to access the facility.

Government officials said that contract negotiations with YMCA NSW, which operates the Civic Pool site, are currently underway.

diver jumping off diving platform

Canberra diver using the Civic Olympic Pool diving platform. Photo: File.

The other issue with the dive pool at Civic Pool is that it is an outdoor pool and so is essentially unable to be used for eight months of the year.

This has long meant Canberra’s divers either travel interstate to train during winter or only undertake dry-land training.

Broader discussions about plans for sports infrastructure – and whether another pool was needed in the city at all – were also underway across the government, Ms Berry said.

She said this included whether a 25-metre or 50-metre pool would better suit the needs of the community.

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A diving pool had been floated as part of initial plans for the Gungahlin Leisure Centre and the Canberra International Sports and Aquatic Centre (CISAC).

But in both cases, it failed to eventuate.

At one point, a proposal for a major aquatic centre, which would be built on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin, also included a deep pool.

But that entire plan seems to have disappeared.

Coach of the Canberra Diving Academy Ann Widdup said she remains optimistic about constructing a dive pool at Stromlo, even though the sport has been burned before.

Her preferred option remains a world-class aquatic facility on the site of Civic Pool now that a stadium has been ruled out, which could be used to host competitions locally.

“I’ll keep fighting for a dive pool to be built,” she said.

A dive pool would also be able to be used by water polo, a sport the divers are joining forces with to keep pressure on the government.

Her best guess for a completion date would be between three and five years from now – after the next Territory election.

Olympic diving pools have to be five metres deep to be safe to dive from the 10-metre board.

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William Newby9:41 pm 12 Nov 22

Wait for it, they’ll shut the civic pool next.
They think we’ve already forgotten about how the abandoned the Phillip pool.
Sure they are expensive to run but this Gov is constantly walking away from things they can’t afford, except for the tram that is…

And the award for the Highest Number of Fruitless Plans goes to …. the ACT Government.

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