The ACT Government has confirmed five of Canberra’s public swimming pools will remain open, despite the fact they’ll be without operators from Saturday (1 July).
There are even talks one could be moving to Commonwealth Park.
The Civic, Gungahlin and Tuggeranong pools need new management after Sydney-based YMCA NSW (aka, ‘The Y’) announced earlier this year it was stepping away once the contracts expire on 30 June.
They’ll also leave the Stromlo Leisure Centre when that contract expires in June 2026.
After 27 years, the managers of the Dickson Aquatic Centre also confirmed they wanted out of their contract with the ACT Government on 30 June, a year ahead of the expiry date.
Dickson is a seasonal pool and closes between late March and October every year, but the government assured the public “all pools will remain operational with full services available … through the transition”.
The open tender closed on 13 April, and in a brief statement provided to Region, the government confirmed “procurement is still underway to find new operators”.
“All five pools will remain open during the tender process,” the ACT Government spokesperson said.
The exact details of the leases will be worked through with potential operators, and there may be more than one.
“The procurement is designed to be flexible to maximise potential market interest, allowing operators to submit proposals for one or more pools,” the spokesperson said.
“This way, organisations can match their commitment to the size and model of their business.”
The government has revealed it’s also in talks with the National Capital Authority (NCA) about moving the Civic Pool on Constitution Avenue to a new location in Commonwealth Park.
In a media conference, Chief Minister Andrew Barr referenced the age of the pool – as being built for the 1956 Melbourne Olympics – and the need for a new one.
“We’re looking at where it should be built, and I think Commonwealth Park would be an attractive location,” he said.
The NCA is currently working on a new master plan for the park by the side of Lake Burley Griffin, including ways it could be made better for Floriade and other events.
“The idea of moving the pool into the park came up, and they were happy to consider it,” Mr Barr said.
There were rumours a city stadium would be built on the current pool site, but these were largely ruled out due to the expense of shifting Parkes Way. Mr Barr said it’s more likely to fill the need for a new police station, live-music venue and convention facilities.
“We could fit all three on Constitution Avenue. That would be fantastic.”
As for Canberra’s other public pools, Manuka is operated by Big Island Sports with a contract to end in June 2027 and Erindale’s Active Leisure Centre by the Erindale College Parents & Citizens Association, with no end date to its contract. The Phillip Pool was bought by property developer Geocon in January 2023 and is yet to reopen.
Combined, the pools come at a cost of nearly $17 million per year to the taxpayer, including repairs and maintenance, and there are more than 1 million visits.