The proposed ocean pool at Ballina came under fire at last week’s Ballina Shire Council meeting when councillor Sharon Cadwallader moved to discontinue the application for the pool.
Councillor Cadwallader raised a number of concerns including maintenance costs, site suitability, Native Title and the impact on the flow of the Richmond River.
‘While a facility like an ocean pool would be a nice to have, apart from the environmental impacts, I believe it is an unaffordable luxury for the majority of shire ratepayers. With Ballina and Alstonville swimming pool upgrades costing $16m, with further upgrades continuing and the development of the sandy beaches on Shaws Bay, shire residents and visitors are enjoying much improved facilities,’ she told Echonetdaily.
‘Like a lot of people I got caught up in the hype of how wonderful it would be to have an ocean pool in our shire, until reality hit home. Council needs to live within its means and not run their communities into debt where the only way out is to raise rates to unaffordable levels.’
Councillor Jeff Johnson, who has championed the ocean pool, said he was disappointed that Cr Cadwallader had moved the motion particularly because she had voiced her support for the ocean pool at the last Council elections and promoted it on her flyers.
‘The Ballina Ocean Pool committee has been working through the planning reports at no cost to Council after receiving a NSW Government grant towards the reports. The points raised by councillors against the pool are not new and are being addressed as part of the planning process,’ he told Echonetdaily.
‘The idea that you can’t have an ocean pool in Ballina because the Richmond River floods periodically is ludicrous. Periodic maintenance would also be a fraction of the cost of other council managed infrastructure assets like the aquatic centres, sports centres, etc. Unlike our chlorine aquatic centres, local swimmers, families and visitors to Ballina will be able to swim in the ocean pool free of chemicals and at no cost. The ocean pool will provide a safe, ocean swimming experience for everyone.’
Councillor Johnson acknowledged that Native Title is an important issue, however, he said that ‘Native Title is part of the planning process for all activities and proposals in our community, particularly on Crown land. Regular discussions have been taking place since this project was first proposed approximately four years ago.’
The majority of Ballina Shire councillors voted to keep going with the ocean pool proposal and costings.