Three new pool facilities are set to open this week in Wellington - delivering a major boost for pain relief, rehabilitation, swim safety and community partnerships and highlighting a $12 million surge in pools investment by the Council.
Tomorrow (Thursday 31 January) a hydrotherapy pool at the Wellington Regional Aquatic Centre (WRAC) in Kilbirnie and a new learners' facility at Karori Pool will both be officially opened by Mayor Celia Wade-Brown.
The Karori Pool opening is at 2.30pm and the WRAC hydrotherapy pool opening at 3.45pm.
On Sunday, the Mayor will also attend a community open day at Berhampore School to celebrate their new school pool enclosure, a result of the Council's School Pools Partnership Fund.
The openings are part of a $12 million investment by the Council in aquatic facilities around the city, which was supported by strong submissions to the Council's draft budgets.
"This reflects the high value we place in learning to swim and staying active, fit and healthy," says Mayor Wade-Brown. "Our new and improved facilities provide health, safety and fitness benefits for Wellingtonians of all ages, as well as further opportunities for people to connect with others."
The $2.4 million hydrotherapy pool is expected to be heavily used. The warmer water in hydrotherapy pools is extremely beneficial for pain relief for people with conditions such as arthritis and can also assist the rehabilitation of out-patients recovering from surgery or muscle injuries. Older people who find other pools too cold to exercise in will also benefit.
"There's been a real need for a dedicated hydrotherapy service in Wellington since 2005 when the existing hydrotherapy facility at Wellington Hospital was decommissioned," says the Mayor. "The new pool presents opportunities for wider physiotherapy services, sports recovery and the development of programmes for older adults."
The learners' pool at Kilbirnie had been used as a hydrotherapy pool for a number of years, which put pressure on learners' water space - already under pressure from the closure of several school pools in the region and the demolition of the Boys and Girl's Institute Pool in Mount Cook. This will now be available to learners again
The new hydrotherapy pool is housed in a new extension at WRAC and is attached to a specialist care changing room.
At Karori, the new $600,000 learners' pool has been installed in an area which was previously an under-used outdoor courtyard. The 7m x 4m pool, constructed off-site, was craned into the area which was quake-strengthened before a roof was built to cover it.
Julian Todd, the Manager of the Council's Recreation Wellington unit, says the pool will provide a dedicated, quieter environment for learners - which will help improve the quality of lessons and open more space for swimmers in the main pool.
"Now we've got more Wellingtonians than ever taking swimming lessons, which is terrific both for fitness and water safety. The Council has a strategy to support our swimmers by freeing up space for lessons and allowing our pools to cater for more people."
The opening of these two new facilities comes on the back of last year's $2.6 million overhaul of the Tawa Pool - and the Council will soon begin work on a $6 million extension and refurbishment of the Keith Spry Pool in Johnsonville. The work will include a new teaching pool and play pool, new changing rooms, and new roof.
The Berhampore School Pool refurbishment was assisted by Wellington City Council's contestable fund to encourage schools to upgrade their pools and make them available for pupils and community use through learn to swim programmes.
A $55,000 grant to Berhampore School helped it install new pipes, filters, pumps, a heater, paint for the changing sheds, and hot showers. A further grant of $69,000 assisted with a roof for the pool.
Last year, Khandallah School completed a new building to enclose its pool with the help of a $420,000 grant from the School Pools Partnership Fund which helps schools to maintain and improve their pool facilities for wider community benefit. This includes improving access to learn-to-swim programmes, aquatic education and water sports.
"By partnering with schools and helping them to raise funds from other sources, many more Wellingtonians can learn to swim," says Mayor Wade-Brown. "These are investments in the community that doesn't place the full cost on ratepayers."