Maylands Waterland – The Facts

I’m a fan of Maylands Waterland and have been there many times. It truly is a unique facility. Regarding the possibility of it being shut down, there’s talk that the City administration has sprung it on council. I don’t believe that is accurate and think the administration has been guided by council over the last 3 – 4 years and the budget deliberations.  

Below I list every instance, that I am aware of, where Waterland has been listed in council/committee agendas. As well as the various resolutions.

I will conclude now rather than at the end for those who can’t be bothered reading all of the below. The pools, filtration systems, pumps, toilets & showers, chlorine storage, electrics are at the end of their life. $3,000,000 is required to renew/replace them and this includes providing better disability access. A lot of this is for underground works, so it won’t look like that amount has been spent.

$4,000,000 to $5,000,000 is required to totally renew the existing infrastructure including kiosk, café, playground/s etc. Significant public consultation only received 101 responses.

Whilst not endorsed by council, a 3.5% rate rise is already proposed in the coming budget.

By my calculations, an additional 6.82% would be required to raise $3 million, 9.10% to raise $4 million and 11.36% to raise $5 million. Combined with the proposed 3.5%, this equates to 10.32%, 12.60% and 14.86%.

It may be possible to spread the increase over 2 years, however not really any longer as the facility is close to breaking down, and indeed did a couple of times in 2014/15.

What do the majority of residents & ratepayers within the City of Bayswater want council to do?

Timeline

2001/2002 – $500,000 spent on a major refurbishment of the facility.

2010-2015 – $100,000 spent “on the play areas within the last five years on ad-hoc equipment, parts and rubber surface replacement”.

2014 – 2015 – $20,000 budgeted to undertake a study/assessment on the condition of site facilities.

26 May 2015 – Council was informed Waterland needed $2,100,000 – $2,700,000 to bring the site back to acceptable standards by concreting the pools, new water treatment system, new toilet block, new chlorine system, electrical works, disability access. Six options were provided and council unanimously agreed to “Consider the strategic future direction of the Maylands Waterland facility at a future workshop.”

8 March 2016 (item 11.1) – Council unanimously decides on comprehensive community consultation regarding the future of Waterland rather than the other available options: closure, do nothing, spend $2.7 million on refurbishment.

No doubt weighing this:
“In light of the substantial financial investment required in refurbishing the site, the decline in attendance figures, the location of the facility at the tip of the peninsula and the operating subsidy required, there are a number of options available to the Council before committing to substantial investment.”

Against this:
“While the facility has had declining attending trends over the last few years, it is still important to note that the facility still has over 30,000 attendances per year and anecdotal feedback from children and families attending is very positive.”

The following figures were also provided, with the bottom line in both tables being the pertinent ones.

(I have sourced that the Actual 2015-16 operating loss was $206,368, Actual 2016-17 operating loss was $249,828 and Actual 17-18 operating loss was $184,691.)

(I have sourced that the Actual 2015-16 total attendances was 29,045, Actual 2016-17 total attendances was 28,854 and Actual 2017-18 total attendances was 35,708.)

12 July 2016 (item 11.2) – Council was advised that “the facility now considered to be nearing the end of its economic life. The facility was required to be closed on two separate occasions during the 2014/15 season for urgent maintenance and water quality control.“

Council unanimously agreed to the appointment of a ‘community engagement consultant’ and the community engagement plan as attached to the agenda.

This followed on from “a Council Workshop on Tuesday, 7 June 2016. At this workshop the draft Community Engagement Strategy for the City was presented and discussion was held as to how the strategy could be implemented to explore options for the future of Maylands Waterlands.”

25 October 2016 (item 11.2) – Officer’s recommended that the following be used as criteria for generating Waterland options: Financial affordability, Amenity, Identity, Functionality and Safety.

Council added an additional criteria, ‘Location’ to keep same location, and removed ‘Safety’ as safety would automatically be taken into account. The vote was 9 For, and 2 Against.

25 January 2017 (item 8.1.1) – “The community workshops have resulted in recommended outcomes that exceed the $3 million criteria set by Council.”

“Whilst this is indicative pricing only and some facilities and features could be removed, it is clear that indicative costs for the two options do not comply with the Financial Affordability criteria ($3 million) set by Council. It should be noted that these costs do not include ongoing operational costs.”

After a number of alternate motions seeking to lift the limit the City was prepared to spend on Waterlands from $3 million to $6 million, council ultimately decided to keep it at a cap of $3 million and to develop 2 plans/options which met that budget. The vote was 6 For, 3 Against.

It’s worth noting that the City Officers had recommended the development of the two further options, whilst also seeking to increase the cap to $6 million so all options could be considered.

21 June 2017 (item 9.1.6) – Feedback from community consultation on two concepts were mixed. There were only 101 survey responses received, and of these 49.5% were in favour of concept 1, and 46.5% were in favour of concept 2.

“The survey was available via the following:
• Online, at the Engage Bayswater portal;
• In hard copy at the City’s Libraries, Bayswater Waves, The RISE and customer service centres; and During four (4) community information sessions.”

The concepts:

  1. Refurbish shallow depth pool, open 6 months of the year between 9am – 5pm, charge an entry fee, expected operating loss – $211,043.
  2. Splash pad play area, open all year between 7am – 7pm all year, free entry, expected operating loss – $77,553.

It should be noted that “General comments provided in the survey from 30% (18 comments) of respondents that commented, requested the facilities current pools be retained.” Also that “The option to refurbish the facility as originally constructed was initially presented to the community earlier in the engagement process.” However, “At this stage of the consultation process it was established that the community felt that refurbishing the facility in its current form did not capture the refurbishment potential of this site.”

Three options were presented to council; proceed with concept 1, proceed with concept 2, refurbish all current pools and supporting facilities at an estimated cost of $4,000,000 to $5,000,000. Note, this higher cost includes kiosk, café & playground/s replacement.

Officer’s recommended Council proceeds with Option 2.

Council changed this to refurbishing all the current pools and facilities with a request that a privatised model for the café be explored. The vote was 6 For, 3 Against.

6 December 2017 (item 9.1.5) – Council was advised that there had been no interest from private operators for the cafe.

Officers recommended that council obtain a report on the commercial viability of the site because “seeking a report regarding the commercial viability of the site can be achieved within existing budget and will provide Council with further valuable information regarding the site and project.”

Among other things, the committee changed this to “officers will proceed towards design and construction of Maylands Waterland.” The vote was 8 For, and 3 Against.

2018 – Budget deliberations over several evening workshops and a full Saturday. Attempting to ascertain what the expenditure will be next financial year which informs us what income (rates)  are required to balance the budget.

If council wants to spend $5 million to make Waterlands ‘new’ again, then I calculate we need to add 11.36% to any existing rate increase.

Power to the People

(Please be aware that these views are my own and have not been endorsed by the City of Bayswater)

3 thoughts on “Maylands Waterland – The Facts

  1. Probably best to shut the place down. Put the money into bays waves instead or build a water playground in a location like riverside gardens

  2. An excellent summary of the problem, thank you.

    However I’d like to propose a different approach to the financing options you have listed. “By my calculations, an additional 6.82% would be required to raise $3 million, 9.10% to raise $4 million and 11.36% to raise $5 million. Combined with the proposed 3.5%, this equates to 10.32%, 12.60% and 14.86%.
    It may be possible to spread the increase over 2 years, however not really any longer as the facility is close to breaking down, and indeed did a couple of times in 2014/15.”

    Until the 1980s councils, including the City of Bayswater, understood that long term assets should be financed by both current and future ratepayers and expenditure of this nature would have been funded by borrowing over a period of 20 to 30 years. This approach ensured that, over the lifetime of the asset, all ratepayers able to enjoy the amenity of the asset contributed towards the cost.

    In the 1980s interest rates on council borrowings increased from 6% to over 20% and a decision was made by the City of Bayswater to become debt free. This was understandable at the time even though it meant that, to pay down the existing debt, ratepayers of the time paid not only their own contribution but also contributions on behalf of future ratepayers. This debt free policy is well past its use by date now that interest rates are at record low levels.

    If the City wants to retain Waterland then serious consideration should be given to financing the work by means of a long term loan ensuring that the work can be done at today’s costs and spreading any required rate increase over current and future ratepayers.

    1. Hello Mr Clarke, Thank you for providing your thoughts. You are of course correct, and debt is an option. You’ve obviously also been around for a while to provide that history. Whilst the CoB does have a debt free stance, it does come up sometimes that the position should be reviewed. How you have phrased it (having current & future ratepayers pay for it) makes sense and seems workable. My fear of going down this path is that the council could start using debt for projects which should be funded from operational reserves – a strategy to keep rates low and current electors happy, and leave a mess for a future council/ratepayers to clean up.

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