Outrage over proposed cuts to Oasis Regional Aquatic Centre winter opening hours

CONCERNED: Wagga woman Milena Dunn doesn't like the idea of cutting the Oasis centre's weekend opening hours. Picture: Stephen Mudd
CONCERNED: Wagga woman Milena Dunn doesn't like the idea of cutting the Oasis centre's weekend opening hours. Picture: Stephen Mudd

Plans to close Wagga’s heated pool early through winter have been criticised for ignoring community needs.

A poll on the Oasis Regional Aquatic Centre Facebook page asked whether people wanted the pool to close at 3pm or 4pm on weekends. Presently, the pool is open until 6pm on weekends.

Milena Dunn said the community deserved to know about the plans, which would effect people from the wider region.

“They told me they wanted feedback from regular pool users, but a lot of people who use the hydrotherapy pool aren’t online,” Mrs Dunn said.

“They’re not going to join Facebook just to vote on a poll with only two options. I know people who come from Tumbarumba or Narrandera to use the pool, people on farms who come to do their shopping or a soccer team who want to relieve sore muscles after a game.”

According to the Facebook post, which was subsequently removed, the review of weekend opening hours was “due to the cold weather and centre attendance”. However, the opening hours were not changed last winter.

Oasis manager Maurice Eames said there were no confirmed changes yet.

“Management continually review the centre’s operation to ensure the needs of the members and patrons are met,” Mr Eames said. “Attendance numbers between 5pm and 6pm during the winter months of May, June and July are generally low and management is gathering information and suggestions from members to understand members’ preferences and needs.”

Councillor Tim Koschel was surprised to hear staff were looking into reducing the opening hours and said 3pm on a Saturday was “prime time” for families during winter.

“As a community pool, a community resource, it would be good to see (the hours) stay where they are,” Cr Koschel said. “By the time people do sport and shopping, they don’t start their family activities until mid-afternoon. I’m sure there are other ways to save money than cut times, it’s something I’ll look into and I’d invite anyone to contact me and chat about this if they have concerns.”

Mrs Dunn said to be fair, sometimes she was the only person using the pool through the week, but it was a community asset not a private business.

“If they want to switch the lights off on Robertson Oval because no one’s training I’d be happy for them to do that and save some money so I can be in the pool,” Mrs Dunn said. “That hydrotherapy pool is really important for patients who need to do that regular exercise and some of them have busy lives and fit it in when they can.”