Jobs in jeopardy as leisure centre shuts

Close to 200 jobs could be on the line after Whittlesea council voted to close the Mill Park Leisure Centre for almost two years while it is being redeveloped.

The YMCA Whittlesea-managed centre will close from mid-2018 to allow the $25 million upgrade to begin, with work expected to be completed in early 2020.

Mayor Kris Pavlidis said the council chose to close the centre during the work to reduce the “risk to users”, and to allow construction to be completed earlier and save money.

It is not yet known how the closure will affect the centre’s staff members, with YMCA Whittlesea considering its options.

Cr Alahna Desiato said the council’s decision could cost 200 people their jobs.

“By going ahead with this decision, [councillors] are going against everything council stands for. We are meant to be promoting jobs and encouraging people to get fit,” she said.

“It didn’t need to close for the redevelopment to happen. It could have been done another way.”

The closure has angered the community, with gym users accusing the council of keeping them in the dark about the centre’s future.

Councillors approved the closure during a confidential section of the February 6 council meeting.

Centre member Danielle Black, who presented a 1200-signature petition calling for the centre to be kept open, said the council had let the community down.

It is not known if the 2768 members will be accommodated at YMCA Whittlesea’s other centres during the closure.

“We feel like our concerns have been dismissed,” she said.

“As a healthy person, I can drive to a different facility, but for so many others, they don’t have that option,” she said.

The redevelopment will include new pools and water play features, an enlarged gym and fitness program areas, a disability access ramp into the current 25-metre pool, new change rooms and family play and barbecue areas.

The building will be expanded to accommodate a reception, cafe and meeting space.