A century ago, Sydney’s suburbia was dotted with public swimming pools. These community treasures were the place to hang out during summer, to meet friends and neighbours and to exercise. They offered a respite from the hot and humid city streets, where people could cool off without breaking the bank. Today, there are only a handful of them left, but the sdy pool remains a symbol of the city’s rich cultural heritage and is attracting renewed interest.
Amid a citywide push for healthier lifestyles, swimming is becoming increasingly popular. But there are concerns that the sdy pools, which were built in the 1800s, may not meet modern health standards. Many are leaking, and some are contaminated with raw sewage. As a result, there is growing pressure to close these pools and replace them with greener facilities.
One such pool is the sdy pools in North Curl Curl, a northern suburb of Sydney’s northern beaches. The local council agreed to spruce up the pool with a $2.5 million grant from state government. But the project has been plagued with delays and cancellations. One frustrated resident says the council has been “making up excuses” for not meeting its commitments.
The sdy pools are being replaced with a new pool and an exercise and rehabilitation centre, which will include a 25-metre lap pool, a leisure pool, a gym, squash courts, and a cafe. It is part of a broader plan to boost North Curl Curl’s public amenity and make it more liveable. The city’s mayor, Jilly Gibson, says the renovated pool will be a ” stunner – an interweaving of historic elements and contemporary design. “
However, not everyone is happy with the decision to close the sdy pools. Some residents say they are being discriminated against. They also argue that the money could be better spent on other community infrastructure, such as parks and libraries.
Others, like Tony from North Curl Curl, are worried about their property values. He signed a contract for the renovations in May last year. But a month before work began, he received a letter from the council saying they’d been forced to cancel the project due to staff shortages. He said he was angry that the council had failed to honour its commitment and claimed his house was being valued down because of it.
For those who are not familiar with the term sdy pools, they are public swimming pools that cater to women and children. They are a symbol of the city’s rich multiculturalism and have been in existence since the 1880s. While a women-only pool might seem incongruous in a nation that prides itself on egalitarianism, the pools have an official exemption from antidiscrimination laws. They also have an international reputation as places for women to socialise. Many women also use them to swim with their babies. It is not uncommon for Muslim women in headscarves to be seen swimming there. This has raised questions about whether the sdy pools are promoting a culture of segregation.