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Council addresses health and safety issues at Pool

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Council addresses health and safety issues at Edgeware Pool

Machinery was moved on site at Edgeware Pool this morning to address health and safety issues at the closed facility.

Since the 74-year-old outdoor pool closed at the end of the 2005-06 summer season, there has been concern because of associated health and safety risks with St Albans residents, in particular children, getting in to the locked facility.

Christchurch City Council Recreation and Sports Manager John Filsell says with the outdoor pool unable to be completely emptied it was feared a child would fall in to the two-metre deep pool and be seriously injured or possibly drown.

He says as Council had made a decision to close the facility as part of its extensive public consultation of the Aquatic Facilities Plan and Long Term Council Community Plan (LTCCP), Council officers this morning proceeded with collapsing the pool tank and filling in the pool to remove the serious health and safety risks posed to the community.

"Council officers determined the risks were too serious to delay this work."

He says a number of serious cracks in the bottom of the pool tank had meant Council had been unable to completely empty the pool. "This water posed a serious health and safety risk to anyone getting in to the locked facility.

"This water has also become stagnant and a breeding ground for mosquitoes and disease. We have been unable to treat the water because of concerns with it leaching into the groundwater and a nearby well."

Mr Filsell says the work was endorsed by Water Safety New Zealand. "Water Safety New Zealand say where there is the potential for drowning or injury, the most appropriate action to mitigate health and safety risks is to fill in the pool tank. Elimination, rather than minimisation of the hazard is favoured where measures to secure a site, such as with adequate fencing, have failed and the owner is aware of continued access."

Edgeware Pool failed at the end of the 2005-06 season. For the last five years Council has been committed to keeping the pool open with extensive repairs and patching. This had cost Christchurch ratepayers more than $75,000.

Mr Filsell says unfortunately, every facility had a useful lifespan beyond which the cost of maintenance outweighs the benefits, and simply at 74-years-old Edgeware Pool had reached the end of its life.

"Industry experts put the cost of fixing the pool up to $600,000, a considerable expense to ratepayers for an outdoor pool that operates for only a couple months of the year and is poorly patronised.

"The independent engineers could give no guarantees that even if the repairs were undertaken that these would provide a long-term solution. The Council needs to be accountable to all its citizens."

Mr Filsell says to replace the pool would cost in excess of $1.6 million and was inconsistent with the Council's Aquatic Facilities Plan which provides a framework for the development of a citywide network of facilities during the next 30 years for use by all ratepayers.

Under the Aquatic Facilities Plan, users of Edgeware Pool will have access to a city-wide network of first-class facilities that provide year-round aquatic facilities for a healthy, active lifestyle.

He says Centennial Pool is only 2.37 kilometres from Edgeware Pool and the new aquatic facility to be operational at Papanui by 2009 will be only 4.45km from Edgeware. "The redeveloped Jellie Park facility will provide residents with both indoor and outdoor aquatic facilities. This opens in May 2008.

"Council had listened to the community through its extensive consultation process on the Aquatic Facilities Plan, LTCCP process and subsequent deputations and proposals.

"With the Council last month standing behind its original decision to close Edgeware Pool and dispose of the land, it was paramount the health and safety risks were removed, ensuring the pool posed no risk to the community."

He said the floor of the pool tank was perforated and broken up, then the walls collapsed into the middle of the pool, before being covered with soil from the embankment to remove all health and safety risks.

Ends

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