Aquatics Strategy Endorsed

Yarra Ranges Shire Council

A person swimming in a pool, photo taken from overhead.

Council has formally endorsed its Aquatics and Leisure Strategy, following extensive engagement with the community.

On Tuesday, 9 April, Councillors voted to endorse the strategy, which plots out the next 10 years of projects, improvements and works for aquatics facilities.

Yarra Ranges Mayor, Sophie Todorov, thanked the community for their enthusiasm during the engagement period.

“We received significant commentary across the engagement period that was positive towards the draft aquatic strategy, and emphasising the importance of aquatics for health, wellbeing, education, fitness and play,” Cr Todorov said.

“We received more than 2000 surveys in the first round of our engagement, spoke with more than 500 residents at six face-to-face information sessions and interviewed more than 40 others across focus group sessions. Our second round of engagement, on the draft document, resulted in more than 200 submissions and 450 community members having their say through focus groups and pop-up events.

“It’s really heartening to have such an engaged community, who share their thoughts, passions and stories with us, and we’ve really heard the feedback we received over this last year.

“I think the community will see themselves reflected in this document, and I look forward to seeing these projects come together.”

The strategy identifies major upgrades to the Monbulk Aquatic Centre, the Yarra Centre and the Healesville Outdoor Pool, to improve experiences for community members.

These works include electrification of the Monbulk pool hall to lesson our environmental impact, extending the gym and a new program room, while at the Yarra Centre, a new entry and café, extension of the pool hall to incorporate a warm water pool, spa and accessible changing facilities have all been identified as priorities.

All proposed works in the strategy will be assessed in business cases, with further community engagement.

The overarching goal of the strategy is to ensure aquatic facilities are environmentally and financially sustainable, support participation and inclusion, and provide economic benefits for the entire community.

Cr Todorov said that Council acknowledged the strategy’s arrival coincided with the permanent closure and demolition of the Kilsyth Pool.

“Of course, we have to acknowledge the impact that the closure of the Kilsyth Centenary Pool has had on the community and on the engagement with this document,”

“We know there are many users who were impacted, and others who, like us, feel the loss of a building with decades of stories and memories.

“Unfortunately, the pool was far beyond the end of its usable life, was leaking significant amounts of water and cost Council in excess of $500,000 annually in gas alone. Vandalism and deterioration of the facility, as well as trespassing in the unsafe site, meant we had to move quickly with demolition.

“Many people raised the pool with us during the engagement period, and we understand the sadness and frustration the closure has caused.

“Myself and my fellow Councillors strongly believe that the best days of aquatics in the Yarra Ranges are ahead of us.

“The creation of a major integrated aquatic and leisure hub in the urban region is one of the biggest items in this strategy, and we believe that with this proposed facility, and improvements to existing sites around Yarra Ranges, we’ll be able to service the community better than ever.

“We’ll be developing a Master Plan for Kiloran Park, to map out the next few years of projects on the site, and this will be subject to more engagement with the community.”

Community engagement for the strategy took place between 27 February and 28 April, 2023, with consultation on the draft document taking place between October 2023 and January 2024.

/Public Release. View in full here.