Country Towns Win Fight To Save Pools

Save Our PoolsFor those of us fortunate to live in the central hubs of our municipalities, we often take council-funded services like childcare, swimming pools, rubbish collection, library, kindergartens, maternal child and health, aged care, and local roads for granted.


But as part of our #spreadingthegoodstuff series, let’s take a moment to spare a thought for our friends in the rural outlying reaches of our shires who don’t share that same luxury.


Like us they pay rates to help councils fund these vital services, but the cold, harsh reality is that they must look a lot harder to pinpoint the services their communities get in return for their investment.


It’s been that way for aeons, and naturally geography and logistics play a contributing role, but country people for the most part rarely complain about the disparity.


That is until one of the few vital services they do have looks like being ripped away from them.


In April this year Campaspe Shire Council released a draft discussion paper proposing (among other options) that the swimming pools in Colbinabbin, Lockington, Tongala and Stanhope be demolished and all aquatic services in the shire be concentrated at Echuca, Rushworth, Rochester and Kyabram.


Council cited increasing costs, age and condition of the pools as part of its justification in forming the recommendation.


In the months since, these tiny communities have had a huge fight on their hands to save their pools from closure.


We’ve seen a grass roots campaign led by devoted community champions that has involved hundreds of volunteer hours researching and writing submissions, holding public forums, traveling to meet with councilors, interviews with media, and the rest.


It’s taken an enormous personal toll on many who are already stretched managing farms, families, work and budgets – but it’s what country people do best.


For them, their local swimming pool is so much more than a place to get wet in the summertime.


It’s a social hub – one of the few public gathering places where people can come to connect and to support one another through life’s ups and downs.


So they were never going to give that up without a bloody big fight.


And they won – well for the moment at least – with Council voting in support of an interim measure earlier this week to delay any pool closures for three years and to work with the community on ways to keep the pools open beyond that.


It’s heartening to see a local government listening to the people it represents and showing willingness to meet half way, but it’s been a David and Goliath battle reaching that point.


And it’s proof that with passion, determination and a shared goal, even the smallest of warriors can defeat the powerful giant.


And that’s worth #spreadingthegoodstuff about.



X Lee