|Phillip Island Aquatic Centre Fund Inc.||
You have questions? We have answers!
Q1. Why should Phillip Island’s Aquatic Centre be built now?
A1. The first feasibility study on the need for an aquatic centre on Phillip Island was conducted back in July 1996 by consultants for Bass Coast Shire and paid for by the Victorian Government. Its recommendation was to build the centre then. But that study never saw the light of day, as it was shredded by Council officers. Given that since that date the PIACFI has been asked on many occasion to conduct more feasibility studies – all studies recommending the same outcome: to build the Centre - yet Council has refused to act.
Q2. When does PIACFI estimate that the Phillip Island Aquatic Centre could be built?
A2. Late 2018 is the 150th anniversary of the settlement of Phillip Island (its Sesquicentenary); that would be a great time to unveil a fully operational aquatic centre. But raising the funds to build the centre, from the public, from State and Federal government grants, and from corporate and philanthropic donors, augmented by some Council funds, is the key; 2018 is a feasible timeline!
Q3. The residents of Phillip Island have been trying for over 20 years to get an Aquatic Centre; what makes the PIACFI confident that we will at last be successful?
A3. In May 2014, the Bass Coast Shire Council finally acknowledged for the first time by Council resolution that Phillip Island should have a Council owned Aquatic Centre; they also said we must raise 50% of costs of the centre. In August 2015, Council agreed, by Council resolution, that they had a preferred site for the Phillip Island Aquatic Centre. The Aquatic Centre Working Group has begun deliberations on the design of the Centre. We have never been in a better position to get our aquatic centre.
Q4. Will the Phillip Island Aquatic Centre Fund Incorporated runs the Centre?
A4. No, PIACFI’s constitution does not permit it to manage an aquatic centre. The facility will be owned by Council and run by a body to be appointed by Council, similar to the running of the Wonthaggi Aquatic Centre by the YMCA.
Q5. What is the estimated cost of the Phillip Island Aquatic Centre?
A5. PIACFI has estimated that the facility will cost about $10 million, for a 25 metre 8 lane pool, an additional 20 metre by 14 metre learn to swim and warm water exercise pool, plus a children’s play area with full amenities.
Q6. How will the Phillip Island Aquatic Centre be financed?
A6. The State Government Department of Sport and Recreation has an offer of $3 million available to Bass Coast Shire for an aquatic centre to either be redeveloped or built from new. As part of our 50% share, (which Wonthaggi doesn’t have to rise for their redevelopments), we believe it to be $2 million. How do we fund it? Well, to assist in raising those funds, PIACFI has partnered with the Australian Sports Federation (ASF) which enables donors of $2 or more to receive tax deductible status for their donations which will come from individuals, and corporate and philanthropic bodies. In addition, Greg Hunt, the local Federal Member of Parliament, has advised that he may be able to provide $1 million to $1.7 million towards the facility. If all those funding sources were realised, there is only a gap of $3.3 - $4.0million for Council to fund. Given that Phillip Island and San Remo provide 49% of Council rate revenue, but, until recently, only 20-25% of Council identifiable expenditure was spent on Phillip Island and in San Remo, surely that gap is not too much to expect Council to find.
Q7. The original group that began agitating in 1993 to get an aquatic centre on Phillip Island and subsequently the PIACFI raised a large amount of funds to go towards the aquatic centre. Many people paid membership subscriptions for years, many people actually paid for the purchase of bricks for the centre, and there were a number of fundraising events. What happened to that money?
A7. In total, an amount of $258,000 was raised through those various sources. We still have $70,000 in the PIACFI bank account, after spending $30,000 on Council required feasibility studies, $30,000 on fundraising costs, and $68,000 on two aeroplane hangars to house the aquatic centre subject to Council approval to build the centre – which never happened! Those two hangars were kept at the Vietnam Veterans Museum until it was hoped that they could be used. But, sadly, they began to deteriorate in the weather; only one was able to be saved and it was donated to the Museum to use as part of its display area.
PIACFI has a database listing all the names of people who contributed money towards the purchase of bricks and the amounts that they contributed.
Q8. The Bass Coast Council has recently produced a design for the redevelopment of the Wonthaggi Aquatic Centre at a cost of $22.5 million. How can the PIACFI guarantee the Wonthaggi centre will not be redeveloped before the Phillip Island Aquatic Centre is built?
A8. There is little justification for the Wonthaggi centre to be redeveloped first. There is nothing wrong with the existing centre; it is now time for the other ratepayers in the Shire to have convenient access to another centre. The offer from the Local Member of Federal Parliament for funding of $1.0 to $1.7 million towards the Phillip Island Aquatic Centre is not available for the redevelopment of the Wonthaggi Aquatic Centre, as Wonthaggi is outside his electorate. In addition, there is no body similar to the PIACFI fundraising for the Wonthaggi Centre. Redevelopment is being driven by dry area not wet area members.
Council’s own consultants estimated that aquatic centre patronage at the Wonthaggi centre would increase by only 11 a day after the proposed redevelopment. Hardly justification for spending $22.5 million!
Q9. Why should Phillip Island Aquatic Centre be built first?
A9. As previously stated Phillip Island ratepayers told they must raise 50% before anything happens nothing like that has been muted for the rest of the Shire, plus every feasibility study carried out has stated that 75% of children on the Phillip Island can’t swim.
Q10. Why is an aquatic centre needed on Phillip Island; why can’t Phillip Island residents just be resigned to driving to Wonthaggi to use the Wonthaggi Aquatic Centre?
A10. It is 45 kilometres from Cowes to Wonthaggi and at least 50 minutes travel time to the centre. For young aspiring swimmers hoping to swim in competition, the distance, time and cost of attending regular training sessions is just not practicable. For recreational swimmers wishing to swim before or after work, Wonthaggi is not a practical option for similar reasons. For residents recuperating from sports accidents or other injuries, and for old and younger residents hoping to improve their health status, the outward and return journeys would probably negate any benefits of the in-water experience.
It is ridiculous that on an Island surrounded by water (some of the beaches benign, others potentially precarious for swimmers and surfers) there is not a pool complex for learn to swim programs, for swimmers to hone their skills, and for children, youth and adults to have opportunities for pursuing a healthy form of recreational and recuperation exercise. More than anything, the lack of a public pool on Phillip Island is both a public safety issue and a public health issue.
Q11. Won’t the Phillip Island Aquatic Centre run at a loss?
A11. The majority of aquatic centres run at an operating loss; the Wonthaggi Aquatic Centre runs at an operating loss of over $200,000 a year. Public pools are an important part of public health services, provide vital recreation and recuperative opportunities for residents and other ratepayers, and are critical to provide opportunities for the nurturing of youth with the potential talent to become world class competitive swimmers. In that context, $200,000 seems a very small price pay for all those benefits. Provision of aquatic facilities is just as valid a reason to spend Council funds as spending on football, soccer, cricket and many other sporting facilities.
Q12. What investigation has the PIACFI undertaken to attempt to minimise the operating costs of running the planned Phillip Island Aquatic Centre?
A12. PIACFI Members have had discussions with a professor of engineering from Melbourne University about the possibility of geothermal heating of the pools and the associated amenities. Early indications are that, for a reasonable cost, geothermal is a real possibility.
In addition, as the development of the aquatic centre and the adjacent medical centre are being planned together, any heating for the aquatic centre could extend to the medical centre as well. With the Federal government keen to promote the use of sustainable energy sources, solar heating of both centres is also a real possibility. PIACFI is currently exploring possible funding sources from both the Federal and State governments towards the cost of solar heating. The Bass Coat Shire Council has recently indicated that it is seeking to establish a pilot co-generation energy project within the Shire. The Phillip Island Aquatic Centre, the adjacent Medical Centre, and even the planned new Cultural Centre, Shire Offices and Library could all form part of that project.
Q13. Will the Phillip Island Aquatic Centre include a hydrotherapy pool?
A13. Yes. It is planned to have a pool separate to the main pool dedicated to hydrotherapy. Such a pool would be kept at a temperature of 34 degrees. Sessions would be run by physiotherapists and such a pool would have no open access to the public. Currently the pool in Wonthaggi is heated a couple of degrees more only on a Wednesday to accommodate physiotherapist lead hydrotherapy, and water exercises classes for the elderly run by fitness instructors. A recreational (swimming) pool is usually kept at a temperature around 28 degrees.
Questions Regarding Possible Rate Increases to Fund Aquatic Centres
Q1. I live at Wonthaggi. The Aquatic Centre at Wonthaggi was built through community funds. Why don’t the residents of Phillip Island do the same if they want another aquatic centre?
A1. It is true that the Wonthaggi Aquatic Centre was built with public funds. But all (previously independent) municipalities that were amalgamated into the Bass Coast Shire contributed funds. And since then all the Shire has been supporting the running of the Wonthaggi Centre to fund its annual operating deficit; that will continue in future. And all of the Shire will be contributing to the proposed upgrade of the Wonthaggi Centre. The estimated costs of building the Phillip Island Aquatic Centre are about half the estimated costs of upgrading of the Wonthaggi Aquatic Centre.
Q2. The Shire can’t afford to fund run two aquatic centres, particularly as both will probably run at a loss. Why build another one if that is the reality?
A2. The ratepayers on Phillip Island and at San Remo can’t afford to travel frequently to Wonthaggi to use its aquatic centre. In addition, it is virtually inaccessible for elderly people. The Phillip Island and San Remo area has a significant need for another aquatic centre to address the needs of: drown-proofing facilities for toddlers; learn to swim for children; swim club activities; gentle water exercise for the aged, the disabled and people with sports and non-sports injuries and/or significant health issues; and general community health, fitness and recreation. In respect of the health issues and community fitness alone, the benefits to the community would far outweigh the economic cost of the deficit.
And the latest, most efficient, energy generating systems are planned to be used in the building of the Phillip Island Aquatic Centre, to reduce the running costs and therefore the deficit.
Q3. The rates in the Shire are already too high. Why should we be forced to pay more?
A3. Any planned increase in rates, specifically to partly fund both the building of a new Phillip Island Aquatic Centre and the upgrading of the existing Wonthaggi Aquatic Centre, is for Bass Coast Shire Council to determine. But if rates were increased by (say) $100 per year for only two years that represents, on average, just the cost of a fortnightly coffee/treat over that period such a rate increase would raise $5.6million towards the cost of both facilities. In addition, other funds (from State and Federal governments and individual corporate and philanthropic contributions) will complement funds raised from rate increases. That is, the upgrading of the Wonthaggi Aquatic Centre and the building of the new Phillip Island Aquatic Centre will minimise the call on ratepayers.
Q4. I am not a swimmer; why should I pay for building an Aquatic Centre on Phillip Island?
A4. Many ratepayers may never swim in the sea or walk on the beaches, fish from the shore or pier, or use a boat, but everyone contributes to the costs of maintaining beaches and associated facilities. Many ratepayers may not drive a motor vehicle, but all contribute to the costs of maintaining Shire-owned roads. Some ratepayers don’t use libraries, but all pay for their capital and running costs.
The Phillip Island Aquatic Centre will be much more than just a swimming pool. It is planned to use the Centre for drown-proofing of toddlers, learn to swim for children and youth, and initial life-saving training courses.
In addition, a hydrotherapy facility, and spa and sauna facilities, are planned to provide assistance for elderly people to maintain their underlying health, for remedial exercises for recovery from surgery, repair of sports and non-sports injuries and addressing chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma and cardiovascular disease. You and your family may need some of those facilities in the future.
The benefits of an Aquatic Centre for health, fitness and illness and injury recovery in the community will far outweigh the costs of building and running an Aquatic Centre.
A higher level of general community health may mean that it may be easier for most people, most of the time, to access medical and ancillary services.
Q5. I own a holiday home on Phillip Island. I am not there a great proportion of the year. Why should I have to foot the bill of another Aquatic Centre in the Shire by paying increased rates?
A5. The building of an Aquatic Centre on Phillip Island will no doubt add to the value of your property, through making it a more attractive rental proposition. If you don’t rent it out, the Centre will be available to you, your friends, your family and particularly any grandchildren that visit your property. Maybe you will get to see your friends and family more often. The building of the Aquatic Centre will also increase the resale value of your property – the value of your holiday home asset will be greater.