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.
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.
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.”
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.”