Indoor Pool will assist an Ageing Well Strategy
The following is a letter I have written to all Councillors at the Federation Council, for their urgent consideration.
I think it is particularly relevant, given the Federation Council’s recently announced Ageing Well Strategy.
I hope that members of the Corowa community such as doctors, physiotherapists, sports team coaches and trainers, teachers and parents of little children who need to be taught to swim, and other ageing citizens who are increasing in numbers here in Corowa, will take a stand and attempt to reverse a most unfortunate decision by the Federation Councillors.
I am writing to ask that you might review your decision to build a 50m outdoor Swimming Pool in Corowa.
I missed the opportunity to input my opinion when submissions were called for, and I am dismayed that this decision will impact in a negative way on the community here in Corowa.
For over one year, a group of women including myself have travelled at 7.30am from Corowa twice each week to exercise and swim in the indoor pool complex at the H P Barr Reserve in Wangaratta.
We are all in aged in our late 60s and early 70s.
Having suffered from osteo-arthritis for 30 years and with four joint replacements, I personally appreciate the enormous benefits of regular exercise in a warm water pool.
My colleagues swim laps in the 25m heated pool and also exercise in the hydrotherapy pool, in an effort to develop and maintain their strength and physical endurance as they age.
Given that Corowa’s population is ageing, I am convinced that the more appropriate choice of pool facilities here would be for an indoor, comfortable environment which would be available 52 weeks of the year, rather than an outdoor pool which could be used for perhaps only 15 weeks each year, and with limited attraction for older citizens.
In Wangaratta, we see many little children in swimming lessons all year round, people with disabilities happily exercising all year round, and school children training all year round.
We observe large groups of older people enjoying water exercise classes and others benefitting from lap swimming and gentle rehabilitation exercise programs.
I cannot understand the reasoning behind your decision and sincerely ask you to have another look at this from the viewpoint of the wider Corowa community.
I believe an indoor pool complex, incorporating a 25m heated pool plus a heated hydrotherapy pool with railings at water level would provide for the needs of the whole Corowa community in all seasons - in fact general community health and well-being would be enhanced.
Down Three Chain Road we go
The topic of a new swimming facility for the township of Corowa has been drawn out and emotive.
Over the last two years we have had a constant stream of information reported through local media and from the Federation Council, both from the government appointed administration and now the elected councillors.
We have had an unprecedented number of letters to the editor in the Corowa Free Press which has covered most angles extensively.
However, the focus of discussion has not had enough attention paid to the flow on effects of the design decision.
Every Sunday my family of four drives to Wangaratta for swimming lessons at the heated YMCA facility.
On a number of occasions we have taken two cars with the grandparents tagging along for the day out.
As I work every Saturday this is our family day and it is deeply upsetting that we never spend (time or money) in Corowa.
Every week I am amazed at the number of locals we bump into doing the same thing and it just seems ridiculous.
When we finish swimming we have lunch and we are slowly working through the large number of options we have discovered in Wangaratta.
Of course we would prefer to rotate around all of the brilliant cafes, pubs and club options we currently have on offer in Corowa but it is lunchtime when we finish swimming.
After lunch we often spend quality family time together before heading home because we are already out and about.
We have covered everything from playing in the numerous parks in Wangaratta to using the Cinema/Ten Pin/ Mini Golf centre.
What a tragedy that we aren’t using our own new magnificent council funded playground at the RSL Park or potentially the upcoming redevelopment of Bangerang Park as well.
The stunning Federation Cinema located at the Corowa Golf Club, also funded through the stronger councils grant program provided through the creation of Federation Council, is also missing out because we are already in Wangaratta swimming every Sunday.
Both of our children have swimming lessons at the Corowa Pool every summer as well and the instructors always do a brilliant job with the facility they have to use.
Taking into consideration the vast population difference between Corowa and Wangaratta I still cannot get over how heavily utilized the Wangaratta centre is compared to the Corowa pool.
Not only in pure numbers but in the spread of demographics and usage purpose.
As the Golf Professional at the Corowa Golf Club I have the privilege of teaching a huge range of clients on how to improve their golf.
Over the years I have had many clients who come to me after having major surgeries (hips, knees, shoulders etc.) wanting to improve their golf.
I have heard so many frustrating stories about having to travel to Albury, Wodonga or Wangaratta to use their heated pools in their recovery and strength training and the focus had usually revolved around the disappointment at the closure of the complex at the golf club (which occurred in 2005).
The last couple of years that tone has changed to the excited prospect of having a facility in Corowa to serve this purpose all year round.
Of course, we do not have a public heated swimming facility in the entire Federation Council so our whole council population have to head outside of our area to find an option year round. I would have believed to build a state of the art indoor swimming complex inside our own council would also be beneficial for our ratepayers beyond the township of Corowa.
People living in all of the outlying areas within our council would have the opportunity to stay within our community all year round for their swimming needs.
When council determined at their April meeting that the best fit for the community would be the outdoor 50m option I wasn’t surprised as the discussion has been so strongly debated by both sides.
However, it was with great concern that it appears the key argument by the councillor’s in favour for the 50m pool is citing the 2016 survey results.
The survey was misleading in a number of its questions and the Free Press even concluded (9/11/2016) that “ While the survey results displayed strong support towards the option of a 50 metre outdoor facility as well as the option of an indoor 25 metre facility, there were inconsistencies found in many of the survey results.”
The survey never conclusively showed favour for one option over the other and 18 months on is even less relevant with its findings.
The major problem with the survey right now is that the questions on pool options were related to the rate increase connected to the construction of the new facility with the indoor pool deemed to cost ratepayers more.
However this information was shown to be incorrect with the release of findings from Otium Planning Group in March detailing that the indoor facility would actually cost less to construct.
So the council have determined that the best option for Federation ratepayers is to endorse a more expensive option that can only be used for 15 weeks of the year.
I guess my hard earned will continue to head down Three Chain Road.
Rob Rowe, Corowa