Minister for Sport and Recreation Yvette Berry has acknowledged community frustration around another summer without the Gungahlin pool, describing the lengthy repair process over the past 18 months as “quite the journey”.
The Gungahlin Leisure Centre has had a long-running leaking issue with its 50-metre pool dating back to mid-2020. The issues have remained unresolved since then, meaning the pool was unavailable for use last summer and is likely to remain closed for most of the coming summer.
“We know that everyone wants to see it open again and operating hopefully better than it ever was, which is definitely our plan from the government perspective,” Ms Berry said at Budget Estimates for sport and recreation on Friday (29 October).
The government has flagged acoustic and lighting upgrades at the pool. Before the pool’s closure, Ms Berry was approached by its main user groups who raised concerns about both the high noise levels and poor lighting standards in the building. The ACT Government has set aside $365,000 in the budget for these upgrades.
Executive Group Manager of Shared Services and Property Graham Tanton said that works recommenced on 18 October after the pandemic brought the project to a halt.
He expects proceedings to ramp up, along with work on the pool shell, expansion joints and water testing. He also revealed that operators of the Gungahlin Leisure Centre, YMCA NSW, are being compensated for the pool’s closure, but did not disclose the exact level of this compensation.
The Civic Pool, or Canberra Olympic Pool as it is formally known, has had an uncertain future for some time. The pool site was viewed as the preferred location for the Civic Stadium project from a report released in March of this year.
In the ACT budget released last month, $1.3 million was set aside for the pool’s operating costs. The budget stated the government would assess the impact on the pool’s patronage following the opening of Stromlo Leisure Centre and the new aquatic facility at ANU before providing funding forecasts.
Shadow Ministers suggested $1.3 million would struggle to meet the costs of operations and maintenance at the facility and posed questions to Ms Berry regarding the pool’s future beyond the next budget year.
Despite declaring the Civic Pool to be an important part of Canberra’s history, Ms Berry agreed that the cost of operations is becoming “more expensive as time goes on” and suggested that questions remain over whether a pool is the best use of the site moving forward.
Unlike Gungahlin Pool and the pool at Phillip, the Canberra Olympic Pool is currently open to the public.