How do leisure centres benefit communities?

11 June 2021

Written by: Peter White

A leisure centre is a place for the whole community

Everyone can recall that warm summer evening in your childhood, the day your parents agreed to take you to the pool. From the moment you walked in the door the scent of chlorine would fill your nose and you couldn’t help but picture yourself jumping into the cold, refreshing water.

But leisure centres aren’t just the home of your local pool. They now offer so much more. Most leisure facilities will have a gym, saunas and even cafés and eating areas. They also offer a wide range of programs such as swimming lessons, guided exercise groups, and facilities for sports clubs.

Recently, Mill Park Leisure partially reopened after a $25 million redevelopment to further accommodate residents in their community. The facility will include three new pools, improved accessibility and change rooms, a spa and sauna room, a new café, and an outdoor area with exercise equipment and barbecues.

“I think its going to be such an amazing place for improving the health and wellbeing of the whole community,” Mill Park Leisure area manager, Aylie Spence, tells upstart.

Spence says that the centres redevelopment and additional features will make it a lot more welcoming to the community. The centre will even feature a ceiling hoist to help handicapped patrons from the changing room to the 25m pool and the warm water pool.

The gym has been extended, almost doubling in size, with all new state-of-the-art equipment. The pool hall area has increased in size as well, with the addition of a kids pool area,” she says. “The accessibility features mean that everybody can come to the facility.”

Spence says the Leisure Centre is also a great way to improve your social life as these resources bring people with similar interests together in the same place, especially exercise. According to findings from Statista, at least 1.9 million Australians aged between 25 and 35 used gyms, fitness clubs or sports/leisure centres in 2020. Their main function is to make exercise accessible through their various programs and facilities, and this is what Spence believes the new centre will deliver.

I think the community can expect to see great health outcomes from the facility,” she says.

According to Director of Community Wellbeing at the City of Whittlesea Council, Kate McCaughey, the council invested the $25 million into Mill Park Leisure to support the community to reach their fitness goals. The facility was expected to reopen mid-2020, but COVID-19’s lockdowns completely bulldozed the plan.

The facility was closed during construction to ensure the safety of members and staff,” McCaughey tells upstart. “Some of our leisure contractors staff were relocated to other leisure centres during this time, including Thomastown Recreation & Aquatic Centre.”

The restrictions also saw delays on construction which further prolonged the final opening stages. Tradespeople were limited on-site and supply of building materials were also held up, forcing the community to wait even longer for the arrival of their new aquatic centre. But Spence and her team are looking forward to opening their doors again.

Certainly the community has been disappointed by the delay, but were just very excited and looking towards our opening day,” she says. “It was important for us to build a facility that is accessible to everyone, for many years to come,” she says.

The centre will be opening in two stages to allow access to the gym as early as possible”. The gym opened on 28 April to the public, and the rest of the centre officially opened on 31 May.

Article: Peter White is a third-year Bachelor of Media and Communication (Media Industries) student. You can follow him on Twitter @peterwhite0

Photo: Swimming pool close-up photography by Thomas Park available HERE and used under a Creative Commons Attribution. The image has not been modified.