Pool push continues

Early designs of the new leisure centre.

Tate Papworth

The Brimbank Council will push ahead with plans to rebuild the St Albans Leisure Centre despite the significant impact COVID-19 has had on the economy.

At its recent meeting councillors awarded a $55.1 million contract to demolish the centre and build a state-of-the-art health and wellbeing hub.

The debate was conducted confidentially and away from public eyes.

While the state government chipped in $2 million funding towards the hub last week, the entire project will cost more than $60 million, which will be funded by rate payers.

A massive $28.78 million of the $36.4 million capital works budget for 2020/21 will be put towards the hub.

Mayor Georgina Papafotiou defended the move to push ahead with the massive project during challenging times.

“This investment and this infrastructure is an essential part of COVID-19 support and recovery for our community to ensure that we can rebound from the pandemic effectively,” Cr Papafotiou said.

“The project is shovel ready, will create approximately 100 jobs during construction, 120 ongoing jobs once operational, and provide a range of vital health, wellbeing, social, educational and support services, programs, and initiatives that our community will need to help us during the COVID-19 recovery phase.”

“The St Albans Health and Wellbeing Hub is strategically placed to become a ‘COVID-19 Support and Recovery Centre for Melbourne’s West”.

While the pandemic has caused many major projects across the state to be amended, altered or downsized, the mayor said the health and wellbeing hub will be built as planned.

“Council’s due diligence and community engagement in relation to this project over the last four years has been extensive, and the recent COVID-19 pandemic make this project more relevant than ever before.

“Not investing and proceeding with the St Albans Health and Wellbeing Hub will have significant economic, employment, health and wellbeing ramifications for our community.”

The new aquatic and leisure centre will include two water slides, a 50m competition pool, a large gym with 24-hour access, group fitness studios meeting and function rooms, and a wellness centre.