BOTH major parties have dived into the long-running debate about a pool for Torquay, with the facility to get at least $10 million regardless of who wins this month’s state election.
Opposition Leader Matthew Guy and South Barwon MP Andrew Katos brought the Liberal campaign bus to the site earmarked for the aquatic centre in Torquay North to make the election commitment on Tuesday morning.
About seven hours later, Sports Minister John Eren and South Barwon candidate Darren Cheeseman announced Labor would also contribute $10 million to the pool if returned to government.
The pool will cost at least $25 million and is expected to attract both Surf Coast Shire and federal government funding, but Mr Guy said his party would make up any funding shortfall beyond $10 million “to make it happen”.
“If you’ve got a beautiful beach like Torquay, it should have a pool as well that is indoor; a proper aquatic centre that kids can swim at and residents can use.”
Mr Katos said planning money would be committed in the Liberals’ 2019/20 budget, with construction to start in the 2020/21 financial year.
Mr Eren said Labor’s investment would make Torquay’s community stronger than ever.
“We want our kids to be fit, healthy and happy – only Labor will make sure local families have the facilities they deserve, close to home.”
Surf Coast Shire councillors resolved in late 2015 to stop all planning work on their proposal for an aquatic centre. Speaking after the Liberals’ announcement, mayor David Bell said the commitment could revive the issue.
“It’d be nice to find someone to put in another $10 million, the council would put in $10 million, but really, it makes the conversation more serious than we’ve been able to do for a long time.”
Surf Coast Aquatic and Leisure Centre Action Group member Colin Fowler said the first committee for a Torquay pool was formed in 1973, and said the pledges were the furthest anyone had got towards making it happen.
“This funding will be a great start to a full aquatic centre with hydrotherapy.”