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Read one of the recent articles on the 60 metre trek from the disabled car parks to the main entrance.
Tiaho invites people to post their views.

The DSRG has been grappling with this issue, a year down the track and the track is still to far…

We believe that as the Whangarei Aquatic Centre is funded with public money, this facility should be able to be used by everyone in the community.  Sure mistakes can be made but this has obviously dragged on for a significant period of time. 

We reckon that the disabled car park should be given high priority and sorted so that people with disabilities can enjoy these facilities. 

We want people to use this website to express their opinions and experiences of the Whangarei Aquatic Centre and we will make sure that the Disability Sector Reference Group receives this information to lobby Sport Northland to make appropriate changes. 

View article and video interview with Vanassa McGoldrick, Chairperson of the Disability Sector Reference Group about the Aquatic Centre.  (Filmed in early November 2006)

Public Comment 1

Posted by Tauke Clark  on  10/30  at  11:19 AM

I was down at the new Aquatic Centre last Friday, taking my son to Motor Rehab Clinic with Isobel Finlayson in the hydotherapy pool.  I ended up filling in their complaint form, as I couldn’t believe that this whole complex was in the making for the past 3-5 years and yet they failed not only on the outside for the disabled, but also inside.  At the hydrotherapy pool, they have only one wheelchair access to that pool.  They have only one wheelchair-accessible changing room beside the pool.  They have no cubbyholes for your bags, towels, etc; and also no seating for spectators/caregivers.  What were the Whangarei Council and Sports Northland thinking?  The disabled are that, disabled yet the makers and shakers of the law fail to recognise this by not ensuring that any community facility designed and built today must meet basic criteria to ensure proper and safe accessibility for the disabled. I did leave my name and contact phone number, so I will let you all know how long it will take for them to get back to me regarding this complaint; and how long it will be before these changes are implemented.

Public Comment 2

Posted by Tauke Clark  on  10/31  at  10:33 AM

I would also like to mention that my son Reece has not attended Special Olympic Swimming on Wednesday nights since they opened the new entrance because of the lack of hindsight by the council and Sport Northland in making it safe and accessible for him and others with disabilities to attend this public amenity in all types of weather.  I emphasis that the car parking is far too narrow and you can’t reverse out at the same time; the distance to the entrance is much further with the width of the footpath far too small that only Reece can walk down it at a time; also that there is no covering over the path for those wet nights. NOW the council is saying that due to all those storms we have had that this has delayed any of the above to proceed. I bet they will still get their pay rise this year though!

Public Comment 3

Posted by Jill Gray  on  11/01  at  10:13 AM

I am writing today with several issues regarding access to the pools.
The learner and hydrotherapy pool sit unused a lot of the time but are unavailable to independent users even when we have a support person.  I work full time and have Wednesdays off but am not allowed in the above pools which is safer for disabled people than the deep pool.  We all strive to become independent but these rules hold us back.
The disabled changing rooms were locked.  Therefore no independent access.
People are visibly struggling to walk the distance to the front doors.  Yesterday I was due to go to a class at the pools but was so sore that with the thought of walking the distance I did not go.
Anyway a wheelchair is being accessed for use, that’s great, so anyone with a support person will be able to use it.
The pathway leading up to the entrance is too narrow and needs to be twice the width with the volume of users taken into account.  There also needs to be a rail on both sides of the path for those with balance problems.
We will all get wet on rainy days OR will not go!
Jill Gray
Barrier Free NZ Trust Advisor

Public Comment 4

Posted by Jill Gray  on  11/01  at  11:41 AM

As a Barrier Free Auditor I did the audit on the Pool complex plans and notified to Halberg Trust, even before any groundwork was done,  that the car parks were way too far away.  It is extremely disappointing that nothing was changed and also to hear public views that are the same as mine. 
I agree that council have done a lot in the recent year or so but there is still way more to go.

Public Comment 5

Posted by Vanassa McGoldrick  on  11/02  at  01:56 PM

Isn’t it sad when you meet people who can no longer go swimming in our community simply because of firstly the lack of proper planning and secondly the lack of action now that the problem has been brought to the forefront.  The approximate number of disabled people in our community affected by the swimming pool parking disaster is 14,000 - and the worst part is often swimming is the ONLY exercise that disabled people can have, because it is non-weight-bearing.  The disabled community desperately needs this facility and so far Council and Sport Northland have played lip service but with no real action.  Six months ago they met with the DSRG and agreed new parking 10 metres from reception - the disabled of this City have been very patient, have followed the proper procedures and have suffered - and 1 year down the track where are they?  Still without access to such an important facility.  To add insult to injury there is a fantastic hydrotherapy facility waiting inside - but we can’t get inside the doors - come on Council - we aren’t even asking for the ultimate living environment, just the ability to get in the doors and come on Sport Northland, make it happen - some of the funding you receive is to ensure disabled people have access to sporting facilities - use some AND LET US IN THE DOOR.

Vanassa McGoldrick

Public Comment 6

Posted by Nicky Dreadon  on  11/05  at  08:11 AM

I have a good friend who is disabled and I remember the first time I took my children to the pool thinking what a mission it was to eventually make it to the pool and I remember how tired I was and thought how on earth would I manage it if I was in the same boat as she is with young children and being disabled and having difficulty walking long distances.  My seven year old son has asked what the pool beside the cafe if for and why is there never anyone in it.  I explained to him what it is for and why no one is using it, and he said “but thats just silly - why did they put a pool there if no one can walk to it to use it”.  If a 7 year old can work out that there is something wrong with the whole set up, why can’t the Council work it out too?

Public Comment 7

Posted by Analatu Wolfgramm-McKay  on  11/05  at  08:30 AM

I can’t believe what I’ve read just now!!!  An audit was carried out, advice given and some individual/s in WDC did not take the advice and make the changes necessary??!!  That is truely bureaucracy working at its best, isn’t it!
WDC and Sport Northland - just correct the BAD JOB done.  Why??  Because that’s what you’re paid to do by us, the ratepayers and the public who fund both your organisations.  And pay for it out of your own pockets / finances, don’t on charge us!  You made the mistake - you pay for it.  Isn’t that the reason you give when charging user pay services?!..

Public Comment 8

Posted by Daniel Cassidy  on  11/05  at  09:32 AM

When the designs went up at the pools I marveled at the great design and look of the complex. What I did not look at was the distance from carpark to pool enterance. I do not suffer from a disability BUT can certainly apreciate the difficulties involved with getting from carpark into the pool complex not to mention the entire changing rooms to pool mission. If the pool cannot be accessed easily by the disabled it points to bad design. If NDHB and Sport Northland want people to access healthy exercise options they need to design complex’s that can be used by all the community. The people who made the decission to go with this design obviously did not consider those with a disability or those with children, it seems the decissions were made by those who were more concerned with the look rather than function. I say fix the problem and consider those who use the pool

Public Comment 9

Posted by Janet Poole  on  11/06  at  09:51 AM

As a Special Needs teacher and having been involved with various activities necessary for the extension of my students’ abilities, among which swimming is a very important part, I am disgusted that no proper provision has been made at the Aquatic Centre for people who have difficulty in accessing any premises.  Far too much money is wasted on aesthetic matters rather than being used for practical purposes and it is time commonsense became the deciding factor in any issue.

Public Comment 10

Posted by Adrienne Hutchings  on  11/06  at  09:51 AM

I am a disabled person who uses a walking frame.  I find the pool inaccessible for a number of reasons.  Firstly the distance of the entrance from the disabled car parks makes it a daunting prospect.  Not only is the path narrow, but it is steep, making pushing the walking frame up the path very tiring.  Secondly, the disabled car parks are narrow, making unloading the walking frame or a wheelchair from the side of the vehicle almost impossible.  I work Tuesdays and Thursdays, the only days that the disabled pool is available to the public, which precludes me from swimming exercise.  I am limited to the type of exercise I can do, but the lack of concern by the designers, Sport Northland and WDC for the disabled community preventsw me from using the pool.

Public Comment 11

Posted by Scotty Delemare  on  11/07  at  02:45 PM

I would like to comment on behalf of my mother who has a disability in the movement in her hips. Whilst I commend the pools for having specific aspects that help her (Much improved from the old set up) and she certainly enjoys her time in the pools I know that she has identified many of the factors from the other letters as being an issue for her…
The distance is certainly an issue from the park to the pool.
Also she has identified that there is a real lack of consistency in what is provided in the changing rooms for the disabled. She also feels that having more wall handrails in some of the pools would also be of value.

Public Comment 12

Posted by Ron Johns  on  11/14  at  08:49 AM

While not in Northland I would like to say how much I feel for you folk.What a bitter disappointment to see such a farrago after such a long time waiting ,and what a dense,unfeeling and uncaring lot Whangarei Council and Sports Northland must be.Hope things improve for you all.

Public Comment 13

Posted by Disgruntled  on  11/23  at  09:35 AM

Having read all of the the earlier postings, I felt compelled to express my opinion. While I do not have a disability myself, I can certainly appreciate the problems that disabled people are facing with the Aquatic Centre. It isn’t good enough that people are faced with such a distance to walk just to get to the entrance of the facility. Why weren’t the recommendations of the Barrier Free auditor taken on board by the designers and Sport Northland, who own the facility? I believe the Whangarei District Council have copped an unshare fair of the blame, given that that they don’t even own or manage the facility. Come on Sport Northland, step up and fix the problems.

Public Comment 14

Posted by Vanassa McGoldrick  on  11/26  at  05:26 PM

Just a little update for people using the Aquatic Centre facilities: Bobby (the Manager) has now ensured that there are about 4 chairs that can be used in the hydrotherapy pool area for caregivers who are waiting for disabled people as they swim.  She is also currently arranging for some boxes to be erected to provide room for people’s belongings in the hydrotherapy area.  Finally, there is now a wheelchair available onsite, so if you have a caregiver with you, they can go into the Centre to collect the chair to help with the distance to get inside and to bring you back to your vehicle.

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