‘We do not need another pool’
Ballina council have endorsed a proposal for a new ocean pool to be built at Shelley's beach but on Saturday morning Ballina residents protested to oppose it.
Over 60 community members gathered around a sign 'Save Shelley Rocks' to express concerns the pool, designed at 50m long and 20m wide will have a detrimental impact on sea life, the environments ecosystem and surfers if it goes ahead.
Local resident Cathy Byrne and spokesperson for Ballina Coastcare said she protested to protect the birds, the fish, the starfish, the anemone, the cunjevoi and beautiful natural space.
"If this gets covered with cement, we will loose an important asset for Ballina," Ms Byrne said.
The development plan is being progressed by community group, the Ballina Ocean Pool Committee Inc and received a $50,000 grant from the State Government to help finance various environmental and engineering reports necessary to be completed prior to a planning application being lodged with Council.
"There hasn't been a voice of opposition put to the council and put to the people, so that is what I am trying to do."
A community and business impacts report on Ballina Shire Councils website reports that two separate studies soliciting the opinions of Ballina residents and local business operators reveal widespread support for the development of an ocean pool at Shelly Beach.
"It's one of only two places where children can come and interact with starfish, anemone and barnacles, that will be gone."
Ms Byrne said the Marine Ecological Surveys for the Ocean Pool Report (Southern Cross University 2017) do not addresses the entirety of marine ecology Issues.
"That survey which was commissioned by the pool committee did not mention the fish nursery that operates here, it mentions one bird once and its very limited.
"It needs to be rejected by council and another study commissioned."
Ms Byrne said she was also concerned the cost of insurance, maintenance, repairs and cleaning were not being made ware to the community and not being spoken about by councillors.
President of Ballina Coast Care Neil Denison said the community is happy with the way the natural landscape is.
"There are a lot of things they could do with the money rather then spend it on a pool," Mr Denison said.
"We do not need another pool.
"Even if it just things like improving the roads."
Ballina Coastcare Inc. is a not-for-profit community group dedicated to restoration and management of the Coastal Reserve between the Richmond River and Sharpes Beach.
During the protest, people were encouraged to sign a petition and email councillors with their concerns.
By 9am the petition had up to 150 signatures.
Ballina resident, Mark Hernage said he is 'shocked something like this will even be potentially going in, at a location like this."
"It's ludicrous that this could even happen," he said.
Mr Hernage said he is disappointed by the lack of consultation with the local community.
Mr Hernage who frequently surfs at Shelley's beach is concerned about the pools impact on surfers.
"Not only would it divert sand flow around this area of the rock platform but it would have a significant impact on backwash which would ruin the wave quality."
The most recent update of the project from The Ballina Ocean Pool Committee Inc was provided to Council in November, 2019.
The Ballina Ocean Pool Committee has argued it would provide safe access to the ocean water for those who find it difficult to enter the surf and would be an alternative to the swimming pools for lap-swimmers.