FLASHBACK:  A Murgon resident uses a Para Mobility Pool and Spa Hoist to safely enter and exit the Jubilee Pool after its $1.2 million upgrade in 2016; similar hoists have been installed at the Wondai, Kingaroy and Nanango pools (Photo: SBRC)

May 21, 2024

A proposal to spend more than $215,000 on two “pool pods” for the Kingaroy and Wondai swimming pools has failed to win approval from the South Burnett Regional Council.

At May’s monthly meeting, Councillors were asked to approve the purchase of the pods to provide a more dignified way for people with spinal injuries to enter the pools.

Cr Danita Potter, who moved the motion, said while Council pools in Murgon, Wondai, Kingaroy and Nanango already had hoists to help residents with disabilities, they were not being used by some residents because they believed they were “undignified”.

However Cr Ros Heit – who had seconded the motion in order to have it discussed – said she felt the investment would be unwise for many reasons.

Chief among these was that the Kingaroy and Wondai Pools were both only open for six months of the year, and all four major pools already had working hoists installed.

Cr Heit said pool managers had told her they thought installing water pods might increase usage but only by one or two people per pool, and she was certain that if pods were installed at Kingaroy and Wondai, Murgon and Nanango residents would want the same for their pools as well.

Cr Heit also noted there were only four pods currently installed in Queensland, and because they were built in Scotland and imported by a single distributor any repairs were likely to be very expensive.

She also pointed out Nanango’s pool was heated and open year-round, and had an access ramp that could be used by disabled residents as an alternative to a hoist or a pod.

Planned future upgrades to Kingaroy’s pool in coming years would include similar facilities.

So while she sympathised with residents who wanted the pods installed, Cr Heit said Council’s annual costs for providing swimming pools were now in excess of $1 million a year and Councillors had an obligation to spend ratepayers’ funds wisely.

Cr Jane Erkens said the Council could buy a bus for the cost of the two pods and she could not support such a large outlay for the benefit of a very small number of people.

In the end, the motion to purchase the pods was defeated six to one.

However, a motion to reserve $200,000 of the funds that would have been spent on the pods for future capital pool projects was carried unanimously.

Video: A pool pod provides an alternative way for people with disabilities to access public swimming pools


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