The total repair bill for the trouble-plagued 50-metre pool at the Gungahlin Leisure Centre is $4.63 million, more than triple the $1.5 million contract to fix the problems.
But there is light at the end of the tunnel for swimmers in Canberra’s north with the 50-metre pool and the 25-metre pool, which has been undergoing maintenance, set to be open for spring.
The Centre says maintenance on the 25-metre pool is complete and will reopen on 25 July, while the 50-metre pool has been retiled and is expected to reopen by the end of August.
A government spokesperson said the government chose to completely refurbish the 50-metre pool instead of simply patching the areas that need to be fixed, as well as adding acoustic and lighting upgrades.
“These works aim to extend the life of the pool, reduce the risk of additional future works being required and provide the best opportunity to address any underlying issues identified and minimise disruption to patrons,” the spokesperson said.
The tiles on the 50-metre pool needed a few weeks to cure, and when complete, the gradual refilling process over about four weeks will begin.
“The pool needs to be refilled slowly in stages to ensure there are no leaks or water pressure issues,” the spokesperson said.
It has been more than two years since the 50-metre pool closed when leaks were discovered during regular maintenance.
Sports Minister Yvette Berry said she understood how frustrating the pool closure had been for the Gungahlin community.
“I thank everyone for their patience while this work has taken place,” she said.
“It is unfortunate that the repairs were taking place during the pandemic with multiple lockdowns which affected workers coming to Canberra and delays in getting materials.
“I am glad that we have now reached a point where we can soon reopen the pool for the Gungahlin community to enjoy.”
In January, the government said the reopening of the 50-metre 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.
The delay plus the closing of the 25-metre pool, which young families use and where Learn to Swim and fitness classes are held, was a further blow to the Gungahlin community.
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.
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.
In March 2021, the government accepted a $400,000 payment to cut ties with the original builder, ADCO Constructions, and signed a $1.5 million contract with local construction company Kynetic to repair the pool.
The government spokesperson said an event to mark the pool’s reopening was under discussion with the Centre operators, and the date and nature of the event will be confirmed in due course.