Benefits of local pools underlined

Posted 07 Oct 2011 by MediaStuff Popular
Posted in Health/Wellbeing , Media
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A proposed $280 million central Christchurch sports hub should not be built at the expense of other swimming pools in the city, residents say.

The fates of two aquatic facilities, Centennial Pool and the Queen Elizabeth II Recreation and Sport Centre, were discussed at the Christchurch City Council's draft central-city plan hearings yesterday.

Keep QEII in the East founder Louise Wedlake told councillors the facility was the "jewel in the crown" of the eastern suburbs.

Rebuilding QEII would encourage "much-needed investment" in the area, while failing to do so would make it a less attractive area for businesses and residents, she said.

"Losing QEII would be the nail in the coffin for a suburb of greater Christchurch that has been devoid of development and investment for so long."

She said the council needed to release more details on the future of the centre, including the state of the land and buildings, how insurance money would be used and any plans for a replacement in the area. "It's very difficult to make informed comments without knowing what's going on in our own backyard."

The community needed to be part of any review of the city's aquatic facilities, she said. "As we're surrounded by water, it's absolutely imperative that we have a say."

Save Centennial spokeswoman Simone Pearson donned a bikini to advocate for the retention of the earthquake-hit pool. Pearson said the "loved and cherished" pool had been popular with inner-city residents and workers and should be repaired as soon as possible.

The proposed metropolitan hub was not a satisfactory replacement because of its construction timeline. "We do not want to wait seven years for a mega-centre to be built in another part of town."

The Centennial Pool had been the most economically viable council facility, while its location in "the heart of the city" was also appealing.

Pearson said all reports on the pool should be made public as soon as possible in the interests of accountability.

If it was not economically viable to repair the pool, a replacement should be built near the current site.

After her presentation, she presented Mayor Bob Parker with a rubber duck to remind the council of the importance of the pool to residents.

During the presentations, Councillor Yani Johanson said he had been told by council staff that a planned review of the city's aquatic facilities would not necessarily include a consultation process.

Council community services general manager Michael Aitken told The Press that staff had started an initial review of the city's aquatic facilities strategy and how it had been affected by the earthquakes. The findings would be presented to the council before the end of the year, and councillors would then make a decision on how any review would be conducted.


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