ARTISTS IMPRESSION: An artist's impression of the proposed Ballina ocean pool.
ARTISTS IMPRESSION: An artist's impression of the proposed Ballina ocean pool.

Bid to dump ‘popular’ ocean pool project a flop

BALLINA Shire Councillors have rebuffed an attempt to shut down planning and construction of the ocean pool at Shelly Beach.

On Thursday morning most councillors voted against Cr Ben Smith's motion to abandon ocean pool plans.

Councillors then voted in favour of a foreshadowed motion, which asks the council to prepare a detailed financial report on the costs of the project, and to deliver a report on the merits of disbanding the ocean pool committee as a committee of council.

Some councillors contended that by disbanding the committee, it would draw a line in the sand, allowing for council to take the project by the horns, rather than a community group, allowing for greater transparency.

Councillor Jeff Johnson who is heavily involved in the committee said the timing of the foreshadowed motion was "highly insulting" to committee members who had worked on the project for four years.

He said it was politically motivated, with the council's upcoming election just six months away.

Cr Keith Williams also attempted to remove Cr Johnson as a spokesman for the committee, but he did not have support from any other councillors in the chamber.

The matter was debated exhaustively, for three hours at the council meeting.

"At the moment we're all getting a bit hot under the collar," Cr Sharon Parry said.

"I am neither for nor against the ocean pool. We need to make a fair and reasonable decision on it."

She said with an environmental impact statement, development application and information from community consultation at hand, she would be able to make a measured decision.

The council's general manager Paul Hickey warned the project would come at a cost.

"I believe any recurrent maintenance costs means there would be a lesser service provided elsewhere," Mr Hickey said.

Cr Smith said though the pool was a "popular" idea the right way forward was to abandon plans, due to environmental and financial concerns.

Do you support Ballina Shire Council's plan to build an ocean pool?

This poll ended on 28 February 2020.

Current Results

Yes

53%

No, environmental concerns

26%

No, cost concerns

19%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.