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Swimming And Aquatic Centres A Highlight For Hamiltonians

Higher than usual pool visitors and successful initiatives for Hamiltonians to swim, be active, and keep safe around water were at the forefront of Hamilton City Council’s latest Committee meeting.

At today’s Community and Natural Environment Committee meeting (11 June), staff shared that in the 2023/2024 financial year, there were 414,362 visitors across Waterworld, Gallagher Aquatic Centre, and Council’s partner pools around the city.

Gallagher Aquatic Centre, the Council-run pool facility in Melville, has seen almost 25,000 more visitors than the previous financial year due to targeted campaigns, a new manu board, and family friendly discounts.

In the same financial year, Learn to Swim classes and water safety programmes saw 41,672 people build on their water safety skills.

A highlight over this period was the trial of a 25% Community Services Card discount to assist families to use the pool facilities. In the 2023/2024 financial year, 575 families have used the discount towards family entry. Due to this success, this discount has been continued for another year.

Safer river swimming was also featured in the Committee discussion, with a project highlighted which aimed to improve river safety, particularly over summer. Positively, there were no reports of accidental drownings in the Waikato River in the summer period 2023/24.

With safety a key theme of the meeting, Claire Toko was endorsed as a new Civil Defence Controller for Hamilton.

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Toko is a leader in the Council’s Venues, Tourism and Events Group and has supported several national emergencies including the Pigeon Valley Fires in Nelson in 2019, Whakaari White Island Eruption in 2019, Covid-19 responses, and the Westport Floods in 2021.

A Civil Defence Controller is responsible for leading all aspects of the response in an emergency. A pool of trained Controllers is needed to have backup support available to ensure there is consistent leadership during an event.

Kelvin Powell, Council’s Safety and Resilience Unit Director and Civil Defence Controller, said the team do a lot of planning, learning from other emergency events around the country, and complete practice runs to help make sure the city is as prepared as possible.

“While a Controller will lead the response, it’s important to remember that every Hamiltonian has their own survival kit and evacuation plan ready for themselves and their whaanau. Every person and family’s needs are different and there’s no time like now to prepare. You’ll thank yourself if an emergency happens.”

A report from the Parks and Recreation team highlighted the work completed over the past 12-months to enhance culture and history, create better connections, and improve nature in Hamilton’s parks and gullies.

Successful projects include 40,000 native plants planted in Mangaonua Gully, the no-mow trial in 13 areas, final connections of the Te Awa Cycleway, launching the Nature in the City app, and replacing play equipment at nine playgrounds including at Galloway Park and Bolmuir Park. The Magical Bridge playground opening in Claudelands Park was noted as a big win for accessible play.

Updates on work towards Council’s He Rautaki Whakawhanake Hapori Strategy, Welcoming Plan, Age Friendly Plan and Disability Plan were also presented. All these plans have a strong focus on community partnership needed to deliver meaningful outcomes for Hamiltonians. Support and supply of kai, our community living in emergency housing, accessibility audits, and community grants were some of the highlights of these community partnerships.

On a project front, Council approved a budget extension of $954,000 to safely remove newly discovered asbestos at Founders Theatre. Despite intense, invasive asbestos surveys carried out before work began, further discoveries in unusual places have added time and cost to the project.More information about this decision is here.

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