WORKS on a pool that has been closed since March of last year may not be open again to the public for a further two summers.
The startling revelation comes after the ACT government has decided to tender out major repairs for the Gungahlin pool.
The financial hole to fix a number of serious defects and faults that has plagued swimmers in Canberra’s northern suburbs heading to the 50-metre pool since March of last year was “not publicly listed” last week for the next two ACT budgets.
The government has not revealed the costs to the taxpayer over commercial confidentiality that could delay completion of the works until as late as possibly June 2022.
Minister for Sport and Recreation Yvette Berry did clarify that “money has been allocated in the 2020-21 budget, however, the amount is not for publication because of commercial negotiations” but could not set a date for the pool to reopen.
The departments of the Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate, and also Major Projects Canberra has only recently delivered options to Ms Berry after a wait to find the outcome of nearly 12 months.
“I share the community’s frustration with the time it’s taken,” she said.
“I have asked for the directorate to begin a process to get these works underway to reopen the pool for the community as soon as possible. I continue to ask for advice and regular updates on progress, and I will keep the community informed.”
Experts that include structural engineers and consultants first conducted investigations on the pool in June last year.
The repairs are expected to include the removal of all tiles, levelling screeds and coatings before installing a new tiling system in the pool that extends to a waterproofing membrane and grout repairs amid further investigations of the pool structure and joints.
The delays have forced a number of Gungahlin residents to travel more than 30 kilometres to just swim laps.
The government advised swimmers to attend the Canberra Olympic Pool while regular lap swimmers were told that the Lakeside Leisure Centre in Greenway – at the other end of Canberra – was their closest venue.
The nearby Dickson Aquatic Centre has been flooded this summer with extra inquires since Gungahlin’s premier pool was shut down.
It was forced to limit only 500 patrons inside the gates at over three daily sessions during COVID-19 restrictions.
Liberal MLA for Yerrabi Leanne Castley asked the minister in question time at last week’s sitting of the Legislative Assembly about timeframes of the “massive” repairs required.
She has called the process a “debacle” since Gungahlin Leisure Centre was opened in 2014 with a $28.7 million price tag.
“The minister needs to come clean and tell Gungahlin residents and families how long they will be without a pool,” she said after the announcement of the budget.
“What the minister has also failed to mention is when the repair will begin, how long will it take and how much will it have cost Canberrans when the pool does reopen.”