THE Kalamunda pool has won a reprieve.
The decision to adopt a foothills aquatic strategy, which would see a new pool in High Wycombe built and Kalamunda Water Park (KWP) closed, split council 6/6 at Tuesday night’s meeting.
Mayor Margaret Thomas used her right to a second vote to vote in opposition to the plan and then moved an alternative motion.
The alternative motion proposed moving ahead with the foothills pool but hold-off on any further decision to shut the 50-year-old KWP for a chance to advocate for funding to have both.
“I’m not saying tonight, ‘absolutely let’s keep the pool open’,” Cr Thomas said.
“I’m saying can we please adopt the foothills aquatic facility and… defer the Kalamunda Water Park option.
“Don’t say you’re going to close it tonight, say you’re going to wait and do more work, let the local member see what he can do (to fund an upgrade), let’s look at the operational impacts, let’s look at any other services that we could close or other ways we could fund that.”
Two factors impact the continuation of KWP in the short and long term.
The first is the need to upgrade the non-heated pool and cold showers to a heated facility and the second is to find $1 million annually to cover its maintenance and running costs.
The six councillors against the original recommendation argued the City could not afford the enormous $2.8 million annually it would need to run both aquatic facilities.
Kalamunda MLA Matthew Hughes, supports the continuation of KWP but told Echo News after the meeting he had concerns about the City’s commitment to fund the operational costs of the pools.
“What is important for the local authority to understand is regardless of how much money they get to upgrade [KWP], the new aquatic centre and the existing facility will cost them money to run,” he said.
“If they’re prepared to wear the more than $2 million for the ongoing operational cost then we can talk about a sizable contribution for the upgrade of KWP.”
He said expecting the State and Federal Government to fund the upgrade of KWP as well as the new High Wycombe facility was akin to the council “wanting their cake and eating it too”.
“They really have an obligation to preserve and maintain their assets,” he said.
“The local authority hasn’t done anything with that pool for decades.
“For me it’s demolition by neglect.”
About 30 KWP supporters attended the meeting.
Resident Alan Malcolm said he believed the running of KWP could be lower than the predicted $1 million.
This was backed-up by Cr Geoff Stallard who alleged the $2.8 million figure for both pools was “grossly exaggerated”.
“As representatives of our communities, are you going to abandon current and future generation of hills residents and leave them without an important community facility?” Mr Malcolm said.
“Do more work and keep KWP.
“Pools should not be seen as a cost but an investment in your community.”
Labor has pledged $30 million to develop the High Wycombe hub if elected next month with Liberal candidate Kristy McSweeney telling Echo News on Wednesday she was “actively fighting” for funding for the project.
Cr Thomas’ motion was supported 10/2 with Crs Mary Cannon and Dylan O’Connor against.
By Claire Ottaviano