Council treads water on pool fee discounts


Hannah Hammoud

Brimbank council has decided it will not introduce fee discounts for residents to attend the Brimbank Aquatic and Wellness Centre and the Sunshine Leisure Centre.

In February this year, councillor Maria Kerr raised a notice of motion advocating for fee discounts to be given to residents to attend the local centres.

Cr Kerr said that as ratepayers in Brimbank funded $60 million towards the budget of the Brimbank Aquatic and Wellness Centre, they deserve to be able to access the services when they want to, at a cost that they can afford.

However at the most recent council meeting on May 21, council officers said that “significant benchmarking” has been undertaken in the setting of fees for the Brimbank Aquatic and Wellness Centre and the Sunshine Leisure Centre on two previous occasions to ensure “highly affordable fees are in place” to benefit Brimbank residents.

Officers said both centre fees are “highly affordable” when compared to other similar leisure centres in Melbourne’s north west region and greater Melbourne and that discounting fees for local residents at leisure centres is not common practice.

Councillors Maria Kerr and Bruce Lancashire raised questions regarding the uptake of more than 11,000 members which has granted council a surplus, as it had initially projected a membership base of about 3000 members.

Cr Kerr attempted to raise an alternate motion which would provide a 5 per cent discount on memberships, casual entry, and swim school for a term of two years commencing on July 1, but was ultimately lost.

“There is no doubt that the Brimbank Aquatic Centre has been an overwhelming success with 11,086 current members. Council only projected to have no more than 3000 members at this stage. It is time we reward the community and ratepayers who funded this project with more than $60 of rate payers money used to build this complex,” Cr Kerr said.

“We never expected to have this amount of members in the first place. So just because the centre is doing better than expected shouldn’t we provide residents with a small discount considering they funded the lionshare of this facility.”

Councillors Maria Kerr, Virginia Tachos, and Bruce Lancashire voted against the council recommendation to not provide a fee discount, however Crs Ranka Rasic, Jae Papalia, Sam David, Victoria Borg, Thuy Dang and Sarah Branton successfully voted to not pursue the option of a fee discount.