Portable pool considered for learners

A portable ''pop-up pool'' like the one pictured is being considered as a short- to medium-term option for a learners' pool in Wanaka. Photo supplied.
A portable ''pop-up pool'' like the one pictured is being considered as a short- to medium-term option for a learners' pool in Wanaka. Photo supplied.
A portable pool costing a fraction of the price of a permanent one is being considered as an interim solution for a learn-to-swim facility in Wanaka, and could be operating within the next few months.

''It's a high priority and we won't be dragging the chain,'' Lakes Leisure chief executive Ruth Stokes told the Wanaka Community Board meeting yesterday.

She said the cost-saving benefits of installing a portable learners' pool at the existing Wanaka Community Pool were significant. A permanent pool would cost $750,000 or more, while a temporary structure would be about $55,000.

Several pool options were being considered, but the most temporary or portable model was available through Pools in Schoolz - an initiative run by a charitable trust which aims to address the decline in primary school swimming pools by providing free covered, portable pools which are rotated between four schools each year.

Because the pool would be based at Wanaka's existing community pool facility for the duration of its three- to five-year lifespan, the council would buy the infrastructure from Pools in Schoolz, Mrs Stokes told the Otago Daily Times. The portable pools looked essentially like a ''pop-up pool in a clear shed'', but the technology involved had improved so they could be used year-round.

Lakes Leisure was weighing up whether there would be sufficient year-round demand for the pool in Wanaka, or whether it would be decommissioned during the winter months.

It was possible ''third-party supporters'' would be involved, meaning the facility would not be entirely council-funded.

A $11.5 million aquatic centre project was removed from the Queenstown Lakes District Council's 10-year plan in June 2009. An aquatic centre is still in the footprint for the planned Wanaka Sports Facility at the Three Parks subdivision, but has not been budgeted for and will not be included in the stadium's development. When the aquatic centre plans were deferred, the council instead considered building a learners' pool at the community pool in 2010-11, but that did not eventuate and the proposal was revisited early last year.

There is $400,000 budgeted in the council's long-term plan for a learn-to-swim facility in Wanaka.

lucy.ibbotson@odt.co.nz