A $71 million rebuild of the Cleveland Aquatic Centre looms, with Redland City Council putting up a bold plan to drag Surf Life Saving Queensland away from its Brisbane CBD South Bank headquarters.
The two organisations signed a memorandum of understanding today, with the next step to talk the Queensland and federal governments into funding two thirds of the proposal.
Surf Life Saving chief executive John Brennan said the project would be a one off and better than anything else around the world.
It would see his organisation grouped with the Ambulance, State Emergency and Queensland Fire and Emergency Services which was an ideal situation.
It would allow lifesavers and lifeguards to consolidate training and competition activities.
“It will also mean we can hold major competitions here all year,” he said. “Currently we have to travel all over Australia for events. Each four-day event will draw about 1000 people.
“Raby Bay (where nippers already train in calm water) is just minutes away and Straddie for open water and cove training is just 25 minutes.”
Mayor Karen Williams, who swam at the 40-year-old pool as a child, said it would be a major economic boost to the region, especially North Stradbroke Island where there were fears of a major economic downturn when sand mining ended in 2019.
Cr Williams said the complex, where thousands of Redlanders had learnt to swim, would remain open to the public regardless of surf lifesaving operations.
“This is a red-letter day for the Redlands, with this project to deliver a state-of-the art aquatic centre to the Redlands,” she said.
“Under this MOU … the new Cleveland aquatic centre will include four new public pools and potentially other facilities such as water play areas.”
Cr Williams said talks had been held with emergency service chiefs as part of plans to create a one-stop-shop for their needs. This would help with joint training exercises and improved coordination and collaboration in disasters.
Tthe next step was to get state and federal governments to help fund the project for which council had put aside $21 million.
SLSQ also had committed funds so the two organisations would cover a third of the money needed.
“I am confident we will secure a commitment from one or both levels of government in the near future,” Cr Williams said.
Mr Brennan said SLSQ had 31,000 members and with record crowds flocking to Queensland beaches and a growing population, the organisation’s current set-up was not sustainable.
It is hoped the project will be approved late next year, with work starting mid to late 2019.
The centre will have an Olympic pool, learn to swim area, helicopter rescue facilities, deep water training, auditorium, accommodation and grandstand.