Warrnambool's council has been urged to get moving on a new AquaZone facility, but ratepayers have been warned that it could be five or 10 years away.
Councillor Ben Blain told Monday's public council meeting he was disappointed work on implementing the aquatic strategy, and a new business model for AquaZone, had been "slow".
"AquaZone has been a priority over the months and I don't think the aquatic strategy should be held up by funding," he said.
"According to this month's finance report, we are running at an $800,000 favourable forecast. And we expect to be $350,000 ahead by the end of the financial year.
"We need to get on with this. We have a growing population and an ageing facility that struggles to meet our community's needs.
"For a top priority of council, the money's there and we need to do the work in order to achieve what our community needs and deserves."
Chief executive officer Peter Schneider said the council had set aside $200,000 for a feasibility study for AquaZone, but that work was not expected to start until the second half of this year.
But Mr Schneider said the council was hoping the state government would cover the cost instead.
"If we don't get the money for that, we've identified another source where we can do that," he said.
Mr Schneider said the AquaZone project was a "multi-year project".
"It's not something we are going to do a feasibility study on and have funding tomorrow for. It's a five to 10-year time horizon for something like that," he said.
Mayor Vicki Jellie said the feasibility study would look at whether it was located on the same site or a greenfields site. "Who knows what it might cost," she said.
She said projects like a new pool or art gallery were long-term projects, like the city's new library and Reid Oval redevelopment which were a long-time coming.
Councillor Debbie Arnott also raised the future of AquaZone on Monday when speaking about the revised council plan which has now gone out for public feedback.
She said the council had discussed the need to take a conservative approach to the use of council resources as the city recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We're taking a steady approach in examining the future of AquaZone and the art gallery," Cr Arnott said.
But Cr Blain said he wasn't sure he agreed the council needed to take a conservative approach to council resources.
"Yes I agree council needs to be sustainable, but believe it needs to be smart, strategic, informed and ambitious in order to stand out as a city," he said.
"This year will see the completion of Reid Oval, library and learning hub, Lake Pertobe playspace and Edwards Bridge and boat ramp. So what's next for Warrnambool?
"There are plans for AquaZone and art gallery mentioned in the council plan and for a review of Flagstaff Hill.
"But really, what else does Warrnambool actually need? Remember the council plan and budget goes hand-in-hand. The plan states the goal, the budget shows the resources in order to reach those goals."
In responding to Cr Blain, Cr Arnott again stressed the need to be responsible with the pandemic still impacting the council's ability to fill vacancies.
"So no, I don't think we should be gung-ho and just go out and spend, spend, spend. I think we need to take a reasonable and responsible approach," she said.
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