Provide Dubliners with an outdoor swimming pool, not a white-water rafting facility

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The George’s Dock Lido

Let’s be ambitious for Dublin's precious public spaces.

You may have heard about Dublin City Council’s proposal for a €25 million white-water-rafting facility located at George’s Dock. We acknowledge that elite water-sport athletes and the fire-brigade require facilities to train. But we believe that this space, in Dublin's inner city, is not the right location for this facility.

Surely there is a better solution.

We propose the conversion of the space at George’s Dock into a large, public, outdoor swimming facility, for all Dubliners, accessible to all abilities. George’s Dock is the perfect location for such a proposal.

  • Multiple European cities have heated, outdoor swimming pools, accessible to the public, called Lidos. Examples of city-centre Lidos include London (here and here and here), Berlin (here and here), Moscow (here), Vancouver (here), Sydney (here) and Barcelona (here).
  • An estimated 7% of adults aged 16 and over swim each week in Ireland, equivalent to approximately 230,000 people (ESRI, 2013).
  • There are currently no publicly-accessible, open-air swimming pools in Dublin.
  • COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of utilising our public spaces as meeting points and locations for exercise.
  • The site could accommodate multiple pools, including one Olympic-standard pool. It would be a space for all, with public health benefits.

There are many reasons why a white-water rafting facility, in such a central location is a bad idea and that moving it outside the centre makes sense:

  • The needs of our inner city residents and families have not been catered for.
  • The development-cost will likely exceed the €25 million (latest estimate, excluding VAT) and this does not factor the likely significant running costs.
  • The site at George's Dock (100mx70m) makes it a small white-water, slalom facility, by European standards. Ultimately this would be a bad outcome for international athletes who would be deprived of a truly state-of-the-art facility.
  • Public opinion is against such a proposal.
  • Daily users of a Lido at George's Dock would be a large multiple of anything at a white-water rafting centre. The business case for the George's Dock Lido makes financial sense, but also services a public interest at its core, whereas DCC's current proposal does not.
  • The cost per usage favours an Olympic swimming pool, which would be approximately €5-€10 per use, versus estimates of €50 per use for the white-water rafting facility.
  • On top of the €25 million white-water rafting facility, Dublin City Council has suggested the development of a €15 million floating swimming pool on the Liffey, close to the Sean O’Casey pedestrian bridge. We believe it is a bad idea to change the character of the historic Liffey quays and narrow the Liffey waterway.

Given the unique historic setting of George's Dock, with the right design, the George's Dock Lido could become a truly exceptional municipal asset for Dublin. Citizen voices should be heard and a public consultation explored. The recent public consultation on the redesign of College Green received over 3,900 submissions from members of public. The site could be sensitively designed to incorporate civic space and trees, accessible to non-swimming citizens.

Please sign this petition and ask our Council to support the development of this publicly-owned space, for use by the residents of Dublin, as the the George’s Dock Lido.