St Carthages students enjoy the sunshine at the Alstonville Pool as they watch the senior girls compete.
St Carthages students enjoy the sunshine at the Alstonville Pool as they watch the senior girls compete. Cathy Adams

Council supports upgrades

LONG-AWAITED upgrades to Ballina and Alstonville swimming pools have been supported by the council but concerns remain about how the works will be funded.

About $8 million is required for the complete works program - $4 million at each pool.

Improvements, supported as part of the preferred works program, include addressing all safety issues, essential maintenance works, adequate shading and seating, heating for both pools and extension of the existing training pools.

A second phase would see the upgrade of the 50m pools to eight lanes and new, contemporary toddlers' facilities.

Ballina's Anne Marchment has campaigned for pool upgrades for many years and has welcomed the decision to "finally" upgrade the facilities - something she said was long overdue.

"I am absolutely so excited about this," she said.

"It is something I have campaigned towards for a long time because it is so desperately needed.

"Apart from everything else, the safety issues really need to be addressed.

"At the moment it is quite dangerous.

"We are also quite excited about the idea that we are going to have a year-round heated pool in Ballina.

"I am 72 and I still try to swim three or four times a week.

"Upgrading the shire's pools is an important investment in community health."

Mrs Marchment said she was also pleased to see disabled access being listed as one of the priorities.

But the council remains uncertain about how the project will be funded. A finance committee meeting or workshop will be held to consider options to pay for the redevelopments.

The council also resolved to write to the Minister for the North Coast and Ballina MP Don Page, as well as Page MP Janelle Saffin, to seek funding opportunities.

Last year the council released the Aquatic Facilities Strategic Financial Plan discussion paper, and more than 370 submissions were made.

The pools - which were opened in 1975 and are run by the council - operate at significant losses.