GIVING swimmers free admission to the new indoor aquatic centre for the first few months could be the best way to encourage users to try the multi-million dollar facility.
With most residents not used to the idea of swimming during cooler weather, Orange City Council will ramp up efforts to publicise the facility and change the culture of users.
But Swimfit chair Rob Williamson wants the council to go one step further and make the pool free for at least three months or longer.
“Like any new business you have to encourage people to come through the doors,” he said.
“It doesn’t have to be paid off overnight, we’re not jeopardising any financial aspects.
“The investment of three months will pay divendends later on.”
Council spokesman Allan Reeder said all options were on the table and the council would consider a free admission period.
“It’s a matter of breaking the ice with people,” he said.
“It’s a facility that will sell itself because it’s so good.”
Mr Williamson said the free period was a no-brainer and would encourage people from all over the city to use the pool.
“We’ve got people here who have never learnt to swim,” he said.
“We’ve got a trap where people have conditioned their kids not to swim because it’s too cold.”
But Bathurst Regional Council recreation manager Peter Navin warned against the idea.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a good idea because it sets a precedent,” he said.
“We had free entry for one day [at the Bathurst pool] on the official opening.”
Mr Navin said the Bathurst council had to change the culture of residents when the city’s aquatic centre opened in 2007 to get them to embrace the idea of swimming in the cooler months.
“Most people this side of the mountains are of the belief that summer time is for swimming and cricket and winter is for footy,” he said.
“The idea of going to the aquatic centre in winter is a little bit foreign.
“When we first opened, the numbers through winter were quite low. The only way you can do it is advertise the fact that it is available and eventually the numbers will build.”
Mr Williamson would like the council to review the entry fees to keep the pool affordable following the free period, if it goes ahead.
Mr Navin said the Bathurst council had been very conscious of ensuring the pool did not become an elitist facility.
He suggested the Orange council should encourage sporting clubs to use the pool for recovery after training in a bid to increase patronage.
Mr Reeder said the council would use the centre’s Facebook page and a brochure promoting birthday parties and other activites at the pool to increase numbers.
The council plans a free swim and community day as part of the official opening of the pool in October.