Big numbers are stressing pools and sports operator

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Lakes Leisure, Queens­town’s swimming pool and sportsfield operator, is becoming overwhelmed by its own success. 

Skyrocketing patronage means extra funding will be needed to enlarge facilities – or numbers of participants may have to be capped, LL chairman Mike Saunders and boss Fiona McKissock warn. 

Their recent annual report is peppered with dire predictions of LL facilities being swamped. 

“Our forecasts indicate that the strong growth experienced in community leisure and recreational participation will continue placing ever more strain on the current limited resources.” 

Facilities are “under increasing pressure from users”, they warn. 

“This will require ongoing investment in leisure and recreational facilities over the coming years in order to keep pace with the ever-increasing demand. 

“A lack of court and field space at peak times … is impacting on sport and leisure participation in the district,” the annual report warns. 

There’s also “a shortage of changing facilities and toilets for outdoor users at all sports grounds”. 

“Accessibility at peak times is becoming increasingly limited as different codes compete for the same training and play space.” 

Queenstown Events Centre gym Alpine Health & Fitness is also “congested at peak times” and may have to be capped at little more than the present 1400 members. 

This would be “a highly undesirable outcome for a community-oriented health and fitness centre”, LL says. 

Overall pool, gym and sportsfield participation numbers shot up to 635,340 in the financial year to June 30. 

That’s a whopping 27 per cent increase on the previous 12 months. 

Revenue from user charges increased 19 per cent. 

Despite continued closure of its fast hydroslide, Queenstown swim centre Alpine Aqualand posted a 14 per cent patronage increase, with visits totalling 154,734. 

Saunders and McKissock say it’s “crucial” for Queenstown Lakes District Council to “carefully consider” funding enlarged facilities over the new financial year.