Fears that Leisureland would be forced to close in 2021, leaving swimming clubs throughout the city without facilities, have been calmed following a commitment given this week by the Galway City Council.
The commitment to provide €500,000 in funding has been given in the 2021 Galway City Council Budget, to ensure Leisureland will remain open. The facility is currently closed in line with the level 5 public health restrictions but can re-open when the State is able to move to level 3.
Fianna Fáil Galway City West councillor, John Connolly, said the commitment from the council "will be very welcome news for the swimming clubs who use the pool and for the families throughout the city" who enjoy the facility. "What is more important, though," he said, "is that this funding infers the council fully recognise the importance of the facility to citizens.”
The rates rebate scheme the Government has developed to fund local authorities throughout this period will ensure money is available to allow the city to develop a budget of more than €100 million next year.
Sufficiently resourced to 'reopen and stay open'
In October, the Galway Salthill Failte CLG, which manages Leisureland, said in statement that, in order to maintain full operations at Leisureland for 2021, the facility will need a total subsidy of €1,057,000 from the Galway City Council because of an expected drop in revenue intake of 50 per cent.
"In 2021," the statement read, "it is projected that the facility will be able to generate 50 per cent of the revenue from operations that are normally generated in a pre Covid-19 year while facing the increased costs of operating under Covid 19 restrictions."
'The funding reflects the importance of Leisureland to the health and wellbeing of the community'
In September, it had been announced that Leisureland was to cease swimming and gym operations with an expected loss of 28 jobs. However, city councillors agreed to provide an advanced subsidy payment to allow the facility to maintain its services until the end of this year. The latest commitment from the council ensures that "Leisureland is now sufficiently resourced to reopen and stay open," according to Cllr Connolly.
“One of the options provided to the council at the time would have seen the closure of the pool throughout 2021. I wasn’t prepared to countenance such a scenario," he said. "Some argued our decision to prevent the closure placed the future operation of the pool in jeopardy, thankfully that proved wide of the mark. The allocation of funding reflects the importance of Leisureland to the health and wellbeing of the community."