The awards achieved by the Aquatic Centre are too numerous to list but from 2007-2014 they included Business Excellence awards, water safety awards, PoolSafe Accreditation, Qualmark 5 star endorsement (highest rating by NZ Tourism), Enviro-Gold Accreditation 2010-2011 (the first swimming pool in NZ) and in 2014, the prestigious national Innovation in Aquatics Award.
Why then, since the 2014 departure of manager Louis Sylvester, have the awards dried up?
Why, having been operating in the black, is this council core service now in the red?
Public suspicion is legitimate and we are entitled to answers, and not be fobbed off with excuses.
Council executives had six months to prepare their outsourcing plan, without any consultation and without fully informing councillors. Thankfully, and under significant opposing pressure, common sense prevailed at the O&M meeting 25 Jan and by a vote of 9-5 the decision to "go back to the drawing board and properly consider all management options including the staff proposal and development options for the Aquatic Centre", was passed, to be reconsidered at the council meeting on February 28.
Rather than bulldozing the outsourcing plan through at this meeting, council and its executive should actually welcome the Aquatic Centre staff and AWON Union's bi-cultural management proposal to address this problem of council's own creation.
Council should not be permitted to outsource yet another core service in my view. Other councils manage to run swimming complexes effectively. Why can't RLC?
The experts tell us that this is going to be the "norm" for Rotorua summers, and I have already heard complaints from tourists that when it rains, there is nothing to do in Rotorua! This is true, all our activities are "outdoor"!
I spent many growing up years at Wembley where they had the enviable Empire Pool and Sports Arena. The "pool" was just that, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, it could be converted in one day into an ice rink, a roller rink, a cycle track, a tennis or table tennis arena, a show theatre, a concert hall, a boxing arena, or just about anything else you could think of. It seated upward of 60,000 people.
This is what we need in Rotorua. Yes, the cost would be millions, but it would attract millions, and make millions all year round!
It would attract sporting events from all over the world, summer or winter, events such as ice hockey games, boxing, tennis - just about every type of indoor sport imaginable.