1 December 2021

Woden residents call for better community sport facilities and 'open, available' public pool

| Lottie Twyford
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Phillip outdoor pool

Woden residents claim the ACT Government has neglected their area and they need better community sports facilities. Photo: Phillip Swimming and Ice Skating.

Woden residents – who say they are sick and tired of feeling left out of the ACT Government’s plans for the city – are calling for better community sports facilities to be built in their area and for the government to step in and save the much-beleaguered Phillip Pool.

Two petitions seeking to do just that were tabled earlier this week in the Legislative Assembly.

The first called for the government to step in and provide the current owner of the Phillip Pool with a short-term grant to complete essential maintenance work and for the pool to be kept open until it, or another pool, can be made available for Woden residents long into the future.

The Philip Pool won’t open this summer as its management said it wouldn’t be viable due to lockdown and the difficulties lockdown created to carry out regular maintenance.

Its owner conceded the facility’s future looks bleak and will become even bleaker as soon as the Tuggeranong facility is open.

Fiona Carrick

President of the Woden Valley Community Council Fiona Carrick says the region is being overlooked when it comes to equal distribution of community sports facilities. Photo: File.

Woden Valley Community Council president Fiona Carrick agreed the proposed ice sports facility in Tuggeranong, if delivered, will likely further hurt the viability of the Phillip venue.

Canberra Liberals MLA Giulia Jones, who sponsored the petition in the Assembly, said many people in the Woden Valley relied on the pool, and having access to an outdoor pool in summer is “the Australian way”.

Mrs Jones said the petition had garnered much community support, with more than 600 Canberrans signing it across all platforms.

She argued the conditions of the current lease meant the ACT Government was required to step in if the owner was unable to complete necessary pool repairs.

It’s not just the loss of the pool that’s concerning the region’s residents.

Ms Carrick said it’s the Council’s view that the ACT Government is not treating the town centre as a destination that should attract residents from the surrounding regions.

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She said Woden’s community facilities are being lost and replaced instead with residential towers.

“We have lost the basketball stadium, bowling greens, tennis courts, pitch n putt, and the YMCA moved to Chifley.

“With the Phillip Oval also locked up, the squash courts are now the only accessible recreation facility in the ‘so-called recreation precinct’,” she said.

In July, the community council’s petition for an indoor sports stadium was sponsored by Greens MLA Emma Davidson, who spoke in support of it earlier this week.

Over 1200 Canberrans signed the petition for investment in such a stadium in the Woden Valley.

Ms Davidson said she was a keen advocate for multi-use community sports facilities and had been for many years.

“There’s been increasing pressure on school sports and community sports halls after the last six years,” she said.

“Many small sports groups are now forced to book courts further afield.”

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Ms Davidson noted the growing population in the Molonglo Valley – an area in which there are currently no designated community sports facilities – was also putting pressure on the Weston Creek facilities.

“Having community sports facilities close to where people live has many benefits beyond just physical fitness.”

Ms Davidson spoke about community connection and resilience as two additional benefits. She noted it was not just children who engage in community sports and activities like dance and yoga, but adults, multicultural communities, the LGBTQI+ community and more.

She also noted that such facilities would prove vital in emergencies such as bushfires or heat waves.

Ms Carrick said building the new sports centre could help give locals the option to stay local and create a community where people have fun and engage with others.

“It takes great public spaces and community facilities to attract people to the centre to create lively, interesting places that people want to come to over and over again.”

Both petitions have now been referred to the Standing Committee on Planning, Transport and City Services. Ms Carrick welcomed this development and said she was “very pleased”.

“We will continue to raise awareness of the need for community facilities in Woden and sustain pressure on the government to find a solution.”

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Yes an explanation is need to the community as to why the pool is closed this summer. And more importantly is the Government working to get it opened. It it the third pool now closed in this area. The Government just keeps saying what a good job they are doing without listening to the very unhappy community.

John Moulis,
It doesn’t really matter who privatised the pool. The decision was many years ago and the success or otherwise, is no longer Government business. It is a private business and the Government has no place providing grants or loans.
If the current owner needs seasonal working capital or funding to upgrade the pool to an all-year facility, they should go through normal commercial channels. That’s what banks are for.
There are a lot of apartments building going up in Woden and mostly, these type of constructions have their own private pools, so the Phillip pool won’t be benefitting from any population growth in the area.
This might sound disrespectful to all of the local families who used the facility over past decades, but as an outdoor pool, the site might be worth more as vacant land than as a ongoing pool operation.
It’s location is ideal for yet another apartment block.

It is the likely outcome imho. As per this article (https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/7488530/australian-way-of-life-can-you-imagine-summer-without-this-pool/) the only reason anyone would be interested in operating the pool would be the ice rink (i.e. the bit that makes money) – and even it is now an outdated facility as well.

The issue here was the insistence on the new ice rink facility being built in Tuggeranong, rather then being a replacement facility either in Woden itself on that site or somewhere properly nearby. That kills any business model for the current facility (if you can call it a business model), and the pool was always going to be the first bit to go.

The proposed Tuggeranong facility is for twin Olympic size rinks and capacity for 2,000 spectators, which I’d guess would be of a standard to attract for major events.

Two ice-skating facilities with 10km of each other isn’t going to be viable, for either. We’re not Canada.
So, more apartments.

Could somebody please explain who was the blithering idiot who privatised Philip Pool? It sounds like something Trevor Kaine or Kate Carnell would have done. By robbing the community of that asset we lost the chance of having a top-quality covered sporting facility like Stromlo leisure centre or Lakeside leisure centre.

The worst thing about it is that it is centrally located in Woden near bus stops and parking and we wouldn’t have had to drive long distances to Tuggeranong and Wright. Another example of how privatisation has failed and has robbed the community. Really, is there any example of where people have been better off following privatisation?

Martin Miller2:54 pm 05 Dec 21

Andrew Barr as Sports Minister in 2008, with the help of the then ACTPLA now EPSSD.

Andrew Barr was also Education minister when he closed all those schools based on now proven to have failed population modelling and analysis.

He was Chief Minister when he removed over 700 bus stops.

He loves removing government services and selling off government facilities in parts of Canberra other than his own Electorate.

It’s time the regime came clean and explained to the people of Woden exactly why their pool is closed this summer.

Because it’s a privately run facility. Same as the Pitch and Putt was. Same as the basketball stadium was.

It’s a fair point Heavs. The issue is that sites and land zoned for an activity such as sports facility are being switched over to apartment use at the developers whim.

ACT Government has kyboshed a number of these developer plans in the inner north and inner south, but ACT government seem pretty happy to let property owners and developers get their way in and around the Woden town centre.

Woden has lost so many sporting and public facilities over the last couple of decades. The Tuggeranong ice sports facility is much needed for the city and Tuggers, but Woden needs some zoning where developers have to include community facilities as well as apartments they build. Woden town centre can’t be just about apartments.

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