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Campaign for equal prices at all Brussels swimming pools

21:57 03/08/2023

Every swimming pool in Brussels should apply the same prices, regardless of whether a customer lives in the municipality or not, a green MP has suggested.

Brussels MP Juan Benjumea-Moreno (Groen) wants identical swimming fees for all Brussels residents, citing the need for equity especially when it comes to access to a means to cool down during a sweltering summer.

“Currently, not every Brussels resident has equal access to a swimming pool,” Benjumea-Moreno said.

“During hot summer days we need more swimming water, outdoors and indoors. In addition, we need to encourage relaxation and exercise, not hinder it.”

Brussels has 15 municipal swimming pools - three of which are currently closed for renovation works - but five municipalities have no swimming pool at all.

Not only do pool fees vary greatly between municipalities, but different prices are charged depending on whether you are a resident or not, with higher fees for those coming from outside the commune.

The cheapest municipality is Saint-Josse-Ten-Noode, where residents pay €100 for an annual subscription and €150 if they do not live in the municipality.

The most expensive is Brussels-City, where a three-month season ticket as a resident costs €85 (€340 a year). Non-residents pay €480, a difference of €140 per year.

The biggest difference between resident and non-resident is found in Ganshoren, where non-residents pay €150 more for an annual pass than residents, for a total of €400.

“The price differences are absurd,” Benjumea-Moreno said.

“For example, someone who lives in Forest but works in Evere and wants to go swimming there in the afternoon will pay €330 for an annual subscription. That's €136 more than an Evere resident. That's just unaffordable for many people.”

People with memberships at the three swimming pools currently closed for renovations - Saint-Gilles, Schaerbeek and Ixelles - must pay a non-resident price to swim elsewhere.

There is already a solidarity mechanism between communes with and without public swimming pools that allows people living in communes without a pool to pay the resident rate elsewhere.

But Groen is advocating for a single season ticket that allows Brussels residents to go to all of the region's municipal swimming pools.

“The difference between resident and non-resident should be removed,” Benjumea-Moreno said.

“With one subscription or swimming pass, every Brussels resident would have equal access to Brussels' swimming pools.”

According to Alexandre Somma (MR), president of the Longchamp swimming pool in Uccle, a uniform tariff for all Brussels pools is not the solution.

“The cost of the pool is covered by the municipality,” Somma said.

“It is paid for with tax money from the residents of the commune. The reality in Uccle is not the same as in Molenbeek, for example. That is why the rates are not the same.”

Written by Helen Lyons