‘The Y’ casts eye on pool
Thursday, 25th August, 2011
By Andrew Robertson
Mayor Wincen Cuy says City Council has nothing to lose by exploring the possibility of handing over the running of the city’s aquatic centre.
The YMCA of Sydney - which already runs numerous pools in NSW on behalf of councils - has put its hand up as a possible candidate.
A report has recommended the council call for expressions of interest in the management and/or operation of the centre which is in the final stages of a $10 million redevelopment.
The report says the redevelopment will transform the centre from a place with limited facilities and a “play centre focus”, to one able to cater to the needs of a wide range of users, not just swimmers.
Mayor Cuy said yesterday that councils across the country were outsourcing the running of their pools, and City Council should explore the option.
“It seems to work for them, so why wouldn’t Broken Hill look at it and see if it works for us?” he said.
He said cost would obviously be a big consideration and Council would not proceed if it meant the centre was run at an even greater deficit than it is already.
“There’s no guarantee it’s going to save us money, but without exploring the options we won’t know,” he said.
“We can get expression of interest but we don’t necessarily have to follow through with it.
“We’ve got to look after the needs of the community. But if it was something we thought we could deliver at less cost to the community you’d have to go for it.”
The report says if Council wanted to proceed with outsourcing it could invite a short-list of companies that responded to the expression of interest to tender for the contract.
YMCA of Sydney chief executive, Phillip Hare, said yesterday his organisation had a track record of running aquatic centres and would be interested in taking on the local pool.
He said City Council was going through a similar process to councils across the country in reassessing what they wanted their core business to be and “what they’re good at”.
More and more of them, he said, were handing over the running of their aquatic centres to organisations that had the expertise to meet the growing expectations and needs of a wide variety of users.
Mr Hare said in the past 20 years aquatic centres had experienced a “dramatic shift” is use.
Where once they were used for a casual swim in the summer, they now were frequented all year round by a variety of people, but particularly the elderly, for a range of activities.
“If you go to the pool you will see as many older people as lappers,” Mr Hare said. “The majority of participation in pool is around programming.”
While the YMCA would welcome the chance to take on the city’s aquatic centre, Mr Hare said the decision was obviously up to Council.
The report was to be discussed at Council’s Technical Services Committee meeting last night ahead of Council ordinary meeting next Wednesday.