Community Aquatic And Recreation Facilities In Dire Situation

The community aquatic and recreation facility industry finds itself in a dire situation. In established areas our infrastructure is aging and in new growth corridors there is limited provision for community leisure facilities as part of the planning process. Either way, we find local communities with limited access to quality leisure facilities.

Why are we in this position? Amongst many others, the reasons include the a lack of a national plan for community leisure facility provision, an unsustainable funding model for our facilities and unrealistic financial expectations placed on our industry. [Read more...]

Gary Penfold

Gary Penfold (Manager of Warringah Aquatic Centre) has worked in the Recreation Industry since 1980 in a range of areas including Sports Development, Dry Facility Management, Special Events and Aquatic Facility Management. Gary has contributed to the development of the industry through various voluntary roles during this time, including: ARI NSW Executive Committee, ARI Training Committee, National Water Safety Council, ARI Conference and Magazine committees. A former ARI President for three years, Gary Penfold currently holds the position of Chair of ALFA.

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Water and Energy Saving in Aquatic Facilities – Case Study: Warringah Aquatic Centre (Part 2)

In the first of a two part case study on Water and Energy Saving in Aquatic Facilities – Case Study: Warringah Aquatic Centre (Part 1), Gary Penfold detailed how Warringah Aquatic Centre (WAC) has been proactive in reducing its energy consumption.  This second instalment (Part 2) focuses on how Warringah Aquatic Centre has reduced its water consumption.

The main driver for water saving

Water and Energy Saving in Aquatic Facilities – Case Study: Warringah Aquatic Centre (Part 1) highlighted that the main driver of the whole process of saving energy in aquatic facilities was the financial bottom line.  However, when water saving is considered, the driver of the process is not quite as clear cut as, despite recent increases, water remains relatively cheap to use.

With energy initiatives there was a payback within two year in many cases, whereas with some of the water initiatives the financial return on investment is potentially as much as 30 years.  As a result it proved to be difficult to get political support for any funding of water saving schemes in earlier years.  However, during the drought there was understandably a change in priorities and the National Water Initiative, and other State based funding programs, really broke the deadlock.

The Environmental Bottom Line as a driver was the popular perception during the drought, but in reality it was still the financial bottom line that needed to be justified in the grant applications.  However in the long term, the business risk of possible pool closure has evolved to be possibly a more enduring reason for Councils to be proactive in this area, particularly where not only the sustainability of pools is concerned but also their very survival.

[Read more...]

Gary Penfold

Gary Penfold (Manager of Warringah Aquatic Centre) has worked in the Recreation Industry since 1980 in a range of areas including Sports Development, Dry Facility Management, Special Events and Aquatic Facility Management. Gary has contributed to the development of the industry through various voluntary roles during this time, including: ARI NSW Executive Committee, ARI Training Committee, National Water Safety Council, ARI Conference and Magazine committees. A former ARI President for three years, Gary Penfold currently holds the position of Chair of ALFA.

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Water and Energy Saving in Aquatic Facilities – Case Study: Warringah Aquatic Centre (Part 1)

At a time when the sustainability of Aquatic and Recreation facilities is under closer scrutiny than ever before, it is incumbent on us all as Facility Managers to be proactive in ensuring our facilities are sustainable from a financial, social and environmental standpoint. This first of two posts on this case study sets out the actions taken and lessons learnt over the past 15 years as the management of the Warringah Aquatic Centre (WAC) endeavour to ensure the sustainability and very survival of the facility,

This first post considers energy saving, with the second post (Water and Energy Saving in Aquatic Facilities – Case Study: Warringah Aquatic Centre – Part 2) focusing on water saving.

[Read more...]

Gary Penfold

Gary Penfold (Manager of Warringah Aquatic Centre) has worked in the Recreation Industry since 1980 in a range of areas including Sports Development, Dry Facility Management, Special Events and Aquatic Facility Management. Gary has contributed to the development of the industry through various voluntary roles during this time, including: ARI NSW Executive Committee, ARI Training Committee, National Water Safety Council, ARI Conference and Magazine committees. A former ARI President for three years, Gary Penfold currently holds the position of Chair of ALFA.

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Census 2011: Which industry do you work in?

After having just completing my census commitments for the next five years, I was forced to (yet again) think hard about what “industry” I work in. Granted, on this occasion there wasn’t much choice.  Health service and community care service industries were the closest fit, but it was “other – please specify” for me again.

This seems to be a common occurrence these days, regardless of what survey, application or form I am filling out at the time. As I work in a Council owned and managed leisure facility, sometimes I select “Local Government” (which excludes a significant percentage of Recreation Professionals), not because this is the correct answer, but because it is usually the closest fit. Sometimes “sport” is the closest option, as people undertake sport activities in the facility I work in, but seeing as though our industry doesn’t get any access to the national sport budget I don’t like selecting that option. But quite frankly, I am sick of ticking “Other”.

Where is the “recreation” industry box? Surely we are a significant enough industry to warrant our own box.

[Read more...]

Gary Penfold

Gary Penfold (Manager of Warringah Aquatic Centre) has worked in the Recreation Industry since 1980 in a range of areas including Sports Development, Dry Facility Management, Special Events and Aquatic Facility Management. Gary has contributed to the development of the industry through various voluntary roles during this time, including: ARI NSW Executive Committee, ARI Training Committee, National Water Safety Council, ARI Conference and Magazine committees. A former ARI President for three years, Gary Penfold currently holds the position of Chair of ALFA.

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Why do I have to pay a spectator fee?

We charge a spectator fee at our facility and I have been getting complaints from people (often parents of water polo players in our case) for a number of years now who expect to come into our facility as a spectator free of charge.

Our facility is a user pay facility and therefore the rationale for charging a spectator fee is as follows:

  • Use of facilities – When spectators are in the building they are at liberty to use the facilities such as toilets and grandstand and they need to be cleaned and maintained, therefore it is appropriate that they pay for this service, as does any other user of our facility.
  • Public Liability insurance – Spectators are covered by Public Liability in the event of a trip or fall and therefore spectators should make a contribution to Public Liability costs.

We dropped the spectator fee as a trial at one time and it generated negative results, which included: [Read more...]

Gary Penfold

Gary Penfold (Manager of Warringah Aquatic Centre) has worked in the Recreation Industry since 1980 in a range of areas including Sports Development, Dry Facility Management, Special Events and Aquatic Facility Management. Gary has contributed to the development of the industry through various voluntary roles during this time, including: ARI NSW Executive Committee, ARI Training Committee, National Water Safety Council, ARI Conference and Magazine committees. A former ARI President for three years, Gary Penfold currently holds the position of Chair of ALFA.

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Should public pools hire lane space to commercial operators?

Public aquatic, recreation and swimming centres across New South Wales have been receiving increasing numbers of inquiries regarding the hiring of space in public facilities for commercial businesses conducting learn-to-swim and coaching.

In the first instance we must be clear that we are not talking about those pools that make the management decision to tender out their learn-to-swim programs to external contractors. This issue relates to those pools that run their own learn-to-swim and coaching programs and find that local swim school operators are making application to rent space to run a competing program in that same pool or facility. Enquiries such as these raise some interesting points. [Read more...]

Gary Penfold

Gary Penfold (Manager of Warringah Aquatic Centre) has worked in the Recreation Industry since 1980 in a range of areas including Sports Development, Dry Facility Management, Special Events and Aquatic Facility Management. Gary has contributed to the development of the industry through various voluntary roles during this time, including: ARI NSW Executive Committee, ARI Training Committee, National Water Safety Council, ARI Conference and Magazine committees. A former ARI President for three years, Gary Penfold currently holds the position of Chair of ALFA.

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Are children in squads competent enough swimmers for parents not to be present?

At a recent Australian Water Safety Council meeting, an issue was raised where a number of swim coaches visiting public pools were known to have encouraged the parents to leave their children at the pool to be collected after the squad session was over. This did not necessarily apply to the ‘in house’ coaches but more specifically those who were renting lanes from the facility (more on this later).

The facility managers representative raised this as an issue with the coaching representatives on behalf of the lifeguards since it goes against the principles of the RLSSA Keep Watch program , which states that children under the age of 10 should be supervised by adults at all times while they are at the pool.  Coaches and parents are using the argument that children in squads are competent swimmers and should therefore be excluded from the Keep Watch Guidelines and therefore parents should not need to present.

This is a dangerous presumption to be made since in terms of their emotional and intellectual development the behaviour of children under the age of 10 years can be unpredictable at the best of times.  Add to this the possibility of a swimmer pulling out of a session (asthma attacks, cramps and a thousand other reasons that children can come up with) and immediately there is a supervision issue if the parent is not in the building.

[Read more...]

Gary Penfold

Gary Penfold (Manager of Warringah Aquatic Centre) has worked in the Recreation Industry since 1980 in a range of areas including Sports Development, Dry Facility Management, Special Events and Aquatic Facility Management. Gary has contributed to the development of the industry through various voluntary roles during this time, including: ARI NSW Executive Committee, ARI Training Committee, National Water Safety Council, ARI Conference and Magazine committees. A former ARI President for three years, Gary Penfold currently holds the position of Chair of ALFA.

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