Credit must be given to the determined group of individuals driving the Daylesford Indoor Aquatic Centre push for the detailed and considered manner in which they have advanced their cause.
Daylesford is certainly not the only town which has attempted the mammoth task of establishing an indoor aquatic centre, with fellow Hepburn Shire residents in Creswick regularly raising the issue.
While the facilities read like brilliant additions to their communities on paper, the great difficulty lies in finding a sustainable and fair way of funding and maintaining the costly sites.
Often, large facilities such as the one put forward fall under the management of councils and require ratepayer money to be maintained.
While this may be a feasible option for larger, more centralised populations who all have equal access to a pool, in a shire as spread out as Hepburn it’s hard to see how such an arrangement could work with the blessing of ratepayers from across the municipality.
Acquiring the money needed to build the thing presents another big problem, with ballpark figures suggested to be in the vicinity of $9-12 million. This will require significant input by state and/or federal governments, which in itself can be a long, drawn out process.
Again, praise must be given to those who have shown the patience and vision to take the long road on the issue by conducting community surveys and feasibility studies, rather than simply going to council or governments cap in hand.
This type of bold plan is not one that can be achieved overnight and will almost certainly not be driven by a single wealthy benefactor.
And in the words of committee member Anita Payne, such an arrangement wouldn’t be fitting for a project which must be designed “by the people, for the people”.
The pledge of $400,000 from the Bendigo Bank will certainly not cover the costs of the mammoth project, but it does inject life into what may otherwise have been a pipe dream.
And while there’s no straight forward path to making this happen, what has certainly been encouraging to date is the community interest which has propelled the conversation.
Such interest has to be maintained if the project is ever to become shovel-ready.
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