4 March 2020

YMCA NSW gets nod to operate Stromlo Aquatic Centre

| Ian Bushnell
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Stromlo Leisure Centre

Taking shape: the 50-metre pool at the new Stromlo Leisure Centre. Photos: Ian Bushnell.

YMCA NSW has won the right to manage the new $36 million Stromlo Leisure Centre, bringing to four the number of aquatic centres it operates in the ACT.

Minister for Sport and Recreation Yvette Berry made the official announcement at a walk-through of the nearly completed facility at Stromlo Forest Park on Tuesday.

The not-for-profit organisation already operates the Canberra Olympic Pool in the city, Lakeside Leisure Centre in Tuggeranong and the Gungahlin Leisure Centre in the north, and will be offering memberships across all four facilities.

It has been contracted until 30 June 2022 in a deal worth $614,000, with the Stromlo centre due to open in the first half of this year.

Set on a hill with commanding views of Molonglo and the National Arboretum, Stromlo Leisure Centre will service the Weston Creek, Woden and Molonglo communities, and will include an eight-lane 50-metre competition pool capable of being split into two 25-metre short-course swimming pools, a learn-to-swim pool, a leisure pool, and a splash pad and slide.

The toddlers' pool

The Stromlo Aquatic Centre will include a learn-to-swim pool, leisure pool, and a splash pad and slide for toddlers.

The centre will also offer a gym, male and female amenities, family change rooms, crêche and a kiosk/cafe.

The centre will open every day of the year (except Good Friday and Christmas Day), Monday to Friday from 5:30 am to 9:30 pm; Saturday from 7:00 am to 7:30 pm; and public holidays from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm.

Entry fees are yet to be set but will be the subject of consultation with the community, YMCA general manager Michelle Nolland said.

But according to the tender released last year, possible entry fees will be $7.50 in 2019-20 for standard entry (rising to $8 in 2020-21); concession casual entry $5.30 (then $5.60); pensioner casual entry $4 (unchanged in 2020-21); disabled casual entry, free; and family casual entry $19.55 (and $20.40).

As with other ACT pools of this size, there will be multi-visit packages and memberships available.

The centre operator will set commercial pool hire and lane hire fees, and be responsible for completing an annual review of non-core fees and submitting an annual fees proposal to ACT Property Group.

Ms Nolland said the Y would now be meeting with clubs, schools and community groups as part of an intensive consultation period ahead of opening.

“We really want to embed ourselves [in the community]. Being a not-for-profit community organisation, we are looking to reinvest back into the community programs that will benefit local residents,” she said.

Ms Nolland said the Y was also a registered training organisation and would be able to train people, for example, to be lifeguards.

The splash pad and slide

The splash pad and slide is coming together.

The centre would start off employing 50 to 60 staff during the cooler months, building to about 100 in the summer months.

In addition to its ACT sites, YMCA NSW also manages 13 pools across NSW, as well as a range of community and youth services, and it says that the successful tender bid solidifies its position as a leader in recreational facility management.

“The Y NSW is thrilled to have been awarded the opportunity to deliver our fitness and aquatic expertise for such an impressive centre,” CEO Susannah Le Bron said.

“This contract is a continuation of our strong partnership with the ACT Government at the Canberra Olympic Pool, Gungahlin Leisure Centre and Lakeside Leisure Centre, and we are looking forward to providing even more opportunities for health, wellness and community connection for the great people of the Territory.”

Area Manager Mathew Pole said the Y would offer flexible membership options.

“We will also be offering membership options with access across our other three facilities in the ACT to make sure whenever you are in the Territory, you have access to incredible facilities and programming,” he said.

The main entrance

The steps from the car park leading up to the main entrance.

Minister for Sport and Recreation Yvette Berry said the facility, being built by Kane Constructions, was on track for a handover in the latter part of the first half of this year, and the Territory would work with YMCA NSW on confirming an opening date to announce soon.

She said the facility would serve more than 100,000 Canberrans in Weston Creek, Woden and the Molonglo Valley.

“Facilities like this are so important for bringing active communities together especially in an area like this with lots of young families. It’s also important that everyone has an equal opportunity to participate,” she said.

“The centre will be accessible to all Canberrans and host to a range of activities like learn to swim classes, aqua aerobics, and various types of warm water and gentle exercise programs.”

The centre would complement other facilities nearby such as the world-class mountain bike trails, a criterium circuit, running tracks, equestrian trails and the relocated container village from West Basin.

The exterior of the Stromlo Aquatic Centre

The imposing facility is being built by Kane Constructions.

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I just hope the pool won’t be constantly clogged with swim squads and learn to swim classes like the Tuggeranong Lakeside Centre is. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve gone there and have been unable to have a swim because there were already 3 or 4 people in the remaining lanes of the pool.

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