IT is hoped that reopening Chifley Dam to the community will help residents who are struggling with the strict lockdown orders imposed on the Bathurst local government area.
After reviewing its operations at the dam, Bathurst Regional Council has decided to open the dam to the community, putting measures in place to allow both the protection of critical water infrastructure and staff and community access.
Councillor Alex Christian said it is the second decision that has been made in recent days that will ideally aid the mental health of Bathurst residents.
"It's a great decision. It was a conversation between myself, the mayor and some other councillors, and we decided that, given the dam can be open for recreational use, that is a decision Bathurst Regional Council should make," he said.
"Very much like the tip situation, it assists people with their mental health and, again, it's a decision based on common sense."
People can use the dam for swimming, fishing, kayaking, or to take a walk on the bank.
"This is just going to allow people to go out and use that facility for recreational purposes, and it's critical, because we do have a mental health crisis at the moment and decisions like this could be the difference between life and death, and I don't say this lightly at all," Cr Christian said.
Anyone who visits the dam must abide by the conditions of the Public Health Order and following COVID-safe practices, including wearing face masks and physical distancing from other people.
Cr Christian urged everyone to follow the rules, or the decision would have to be reversed.
"It's going to take a community-wide effort to do the right thing, because if we do have issues out there, then unfortunately council will have no choice but to close it," he said.
"Everybody does need to take personal responsibility. Council is respecting the intelligence of the Bathurst community in this regard and I'm sure there won't be any issues."
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