The Mullumbimby Memorial Centre Petria Thomas Pool.
The Mullumbimby Memorial Centre Petria Thomas Pool.

A step forward for council’s major pool upgrade proposal

PLANS to consider operating Mullumbimby’s public pool all year round, and improve its range of services, have progressed.

Byron Shire Council deputy mayor Sarah Ndiaye brought a notice of motion before Thursday’s ordinary meeting.

The motion was asking that the council seeks funding from the State Government or another funding body for a feasibility study into a proposed upgrade of the pool.

Cr Ndiaye has been calling for consideration to be given to turning the Petria Thomas Swimming Pool into a year round, solar-heated facility with a disability access ramp to access the existing 50m pool.

She’s also called for a children’s splash pool and a rehabilitation or hydrotherapy pool and for the feasibility study to consider a range of water treatment options.

Cr Ndiaye acknowledged the shire had “hit a very difficult financial situation” in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I put this motion forward initially to do a feasibility study to make the Petria Thomas swimming pool a year round facility with a lot of community support behind it and it was voted for unanimously,” she said.

“I’ve been contacted recently by people who work in the carers sector … outraged we have no facility to support people who need to do any rehabilitation.

“There’s a lot of people that use it for their general mental and physical wellbeing.

“The NDIS doesn’t provide enough funding for them to travel to Murwillumbah, because of the time included in going there in back, the same with Ballina.”

She asked if they consider whether there was “any appetite to ask staff to re-look at the budget”.

Failing that, she asked that they actively seek external funding to upgrade the pool.

“I’m not asking us to increase our deficit,” Cr Ndiaye said.

“I am going to remain optimistic that we will be able to get this funding from somewhere else because I know all the fat’s been cut on our budget as it is.

“These projects are community-building.

“They increase the health wellbeing and provide a lot of valuable learning activities for young people and options for people who are injured or elderly to get exercise.

“That needs to be provided year round.”

Resident Sandra Kessler, who urged councillors to vote for the motion, said members of the community had been “demonstrably moved” by the prospect of having a local hydrotherapy pool.

The closest pool that meets hydrotherapy standards is at the Tweed Regional Aquatic Centre’s Murwillumbah site.

“Yes, there’s funding challenges,” Ms Kessler said.

“But there’s also funding opportunities.

“And they can be pursued when the costing and research phases are completed.”

She assured councillors there was “enthusiastic support” for the proposal.

“Mullumbimby Residents Association endorse and support this project,” she said.

The motion was unanimously supported.