General News

24 March, 2023

No joy for small town pool users

DIMBULAH Pool users have had no joy in getting opening times extended or entry fees reduced after Mareeba Shire Council opted to stay with the status quo while it considers expressions of interest from four companies to manage its public pools and the Dimbulah Caravan Park.

No joy for small town pool users - feature photo

A petition signed by more than 200 people called on council to reconsider a 65 per cent increase in entry fees which came into effect on 1 January. They also wanted extended operating hours and better facilities at Dimbulah, similar to those enjoyed at other pool complexes in Mareeba and Kuranda.

But a report to council advised that the en-try fees of the three pools in the shire were re-viewed in 2021 after a request by the contractor managing the facilities, and a decision was then made to standardise the fee structure across all of the three complexes.

“The operational cost of operating the Dim-bulah pool is considerably higher than the Ma-reeba and Kuranda pools,” the report stated.

“Over the last three years, the average cost per swim for Dimbulah pool compared with Mareeba and Kuranda is 9 and 3.3 times respectively.”

Council was also advised that the Dimbulah pool had always had limited hours of operation, in large part due to the “very small patronage numbers and the associated cost of keeping the pool open”.

Figures showing use at all pools reveal that Dimbulah only had around 3000 users in 2021-22, compared to more than 10,000 for Kuranda and more than 20,000 at Mareeba.

In relation to opening hours, council was told a trial, proposed by the current leasee, for in-creasing those times had been underway since February.

“The trial hours of operation took effect 27 February 2023 and will deliver additional hours

with an improved ‘spread’ to account for the various types of pool user. This trial should provide a measure of the Dimbulah community’s appetite for increased access to the pool facility,” the report stated.

Chief executive officer Peter Franks said that with the Expression of Interest (EOI) process underway, the operating methods of all the pools were under consideration.

“That may mean we can change things as well but it’s going through this process. We will see what happens once this new EOI has been dealt with and we go out to tender,” he said, adding that would determine what the management arrangements would be.

“But again, it gets down to the cost factor and the arrangements with the leasee.”

Deputy Mayor Cr Kevin Davies said he be-lieved any consideration of extended opening hours should come down to “cost versus usage”.

“You can have a cost there as long as the us-age is there – there’s no use having someone sitting there from 10am to say 3pm and not one single person turns up,” he said.

Cr Davies said it was important to ascertain what hours would attract the most usage, suggesting it could be blocks such as 6am-10am and 3pm-6pm.

Officers said that was the driving factor be-hind the trial and recommended no changes to hours of operation be made until after the EOI process had been completed.

Council has received four responses to its EOI request to manage the three pool facilities and the Dimbulah Caravan Park, with interim managers, Marlin Coast Swimming & Fitness, due to end its contract on 30 June.

Mr Franks will now short-list the EOIs, consult councillors, then invite them to provide a written tender. The winning tender will then be determined by the full council


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