Urgent pool repairs approved

Vanessa van Uden
Vanessa van Uden
The Wanaka Community Pool is expected to reopen in a couple of months after the Queenstown Lakes District Council agreed to spend about $115,000 strengthening the building as a temporary fix.

Following a briefing from staff and professional advisers, Mayor Vanessa van Uden announced during the public forum of yesterday's council meeting that funds already in the Wanaka pool budget would be channelled into the urgent repair work.

The pool was closed last Friday after an independent engineering investigation found the building only met 20% of the new building standard, making it officially ''earthquake prone''.

Ms van Uden said the council would make an immediate start on designing the strengthening measures, obtaining the necessary building consents and then carrying out the physical work as a matter of urgency. It could take up to two months to reopen the pool, she said.

''But we'll be working as hard as we can to make it happen as quickly as we possibly can.''

In the meantime, the council would continue to subsidise Wanaka swimmers' use of the Cromwell pool for the same price as they would pay in Wanaka, after it negotiated an arrangement with the Central Otago District Council.

Their pool concession cards would also be valid in Cromwell and at Alpine Aqualand in Frankton.

Ms van Uden said the council was acutely aware many people relied on access to the Wanaka pool to learn to swim, as a training facility and for recreation and therapy.

''This is a temporary solution while we work out the best long-term option for providing pool facilities in Wanaka,'' she said.

During the public forum via a live video feed from Wanaka, resident Wayne Hudson said he could understand the council's ''normal paranoia'' about liability and asked if it was possible for people to continue to use the pool in the meantime by signing some sort of liability waiver.

''Believe me Wayne, we asked that question and the answer is no,'' Ms van Uden said.

Aside from the general public, the council also needed to consider pool staff and its obligation to be ''good employers'', she added.

Wanaka Swim Club president Richard Fairbairn asked if there would be further public consultation over where Wanaka's community pool should be sited long-term in light of last week's closure.

Ms van Uden said she could not answer that until the council reached its ''critical decision point'' at its next meeting.

Mr Fairbairn thanked the council for its efforts in coming up with an interim solution for swimmers.

''I'm glad we've got a way forward.''

lucy.ibbotson@odt.co.nz