Council has been 'as inclusive as possible' on sports plan
THE Fraser Coast Regional Council believes it has been as inclusive as possible in developing the master plan for the sports precinct near the airport in Urangan.
Councillor for sport, recreation, open space and events Darren Everard responded to the following questions raised by the sports clubs during the Chronicle's in-depth report into the $53 million plan.
1: Why is the precinct necessary and why was it proposed?
It has been identified that by 2020 we will not have the capacity to cater for our sporting needs.
At the present time we are struggling to attract major events because we do not have facilities that are of a high enough standard.
As sports become more professional, the need for better facilities will increase.
Investigations show that the region should have two hectares of sports fields per 1000 people or 105.2 hectares for 52,619 people.
That means there is a shortfall 16.2 hectares to meet current needs without planning for growth. If we do nothing then the shortfall continues to grow.
This is to cater for the future growth of the region.
Sport clubs and community organisations are struggling for volunteers now.
Will our clubs be able to support their facilities in the years to come?
In the future there will be a need for shared resources such as car parks and toilet blocks as funding and income will be harder to manage.
Presently we have sporting groups struggling to survive so we need to do what we can to ensure that facilities are used by a maximum number of people.
2: Why was the site chosen and is the proposed location the only one available?
This site has been suggested as it is in a growth corridor and is close to a secure source of water to cater for the facility.
This site was identified as "available" as part of a land swap between WBWC and FCRC; a swap that was agreed to in-principal by the previous council and WBWC board.
The current growth is in the south, along the Doolong Flats, over the ridge line.
The precinct also helps protect the Fraser Coast Airport from housing encroachment.
3: Would it have made more sense to build the precinct near Dundowran-Eli Waters-Nikenbah, the growth corridor of Hervey Bay?
Council does not have the spare funds to purchase land in any of these areas.
The cost of buying land in those areas would increase the cost to the ratepayer of this project, making it clearly unviable.
The growth corridor is also towards the south.
That coupled with in-fill development will mean the bulk of the population will be close to the precinct.
4: What processes will the council follow from here to progress the sports precinct?
As the portfolio councillor for sport, recreation, open space and events, I will be out talking with as many groups and individuals as possible to let them know that the draft master plan is available for public comment.
People will get sick of me talking about this.
I encourage everyone, not just the executive committees of sporting groups, to read the report and let us know their thoughts.
This is a draft, so now is the time to have your say which is part of the planning process.
5: When is it anticipated or targeted that construction on the precinct would begin?
The staged development could start as soon as the master plan is finalised and council can access grant funding.
6: Will there be on-site storage facilities clubs can use to store equipment?
In the master plan page it states that there will be satellite hubs that will be used by the clubs.
It is anticipated that there would be storage facilities in those hubs for the various sports.
7: Many clubs currently gain income through canteens, sausage sizzles, raffles etc. How is it anticipated the clubs will continue to generate this income at a shared precinct?
The clubs would still have access to canteens at the hubs.
Also it is anticipated that there could be a central sporting clubhouse or facility on the precinct which would be open to everyone.
The profits from the central facility would be ploughed back into the precinct.
We need clubs to work together to share facilities such as toilet blocks and car parks to get the maximum use out of them rather than have multiple clubs trying to develop facilities that are used once or twice a week.
8: Is there a lease or tenure term clubs will be offered on fields and buildings?
The master plan sets out management options.
It promotes right to occupy as the preferred model.
This would allow clubs and groups to have a say in the development and running of the precinct and hubs.
Clubs would still be able to apply for grants as council would make the application with the clubs.
9: Could the council have done any more to include the sporting groups in the planning process and find out what those groups wanted?
The council invited each sporting group that was identified as having a potential stake in the facility to a meeting in October last year to discuss the project.
It also sent a survey form to the 24 clubs associated with the identified sports to canvass ideas.
There was also media at the time letting people know what was under way.
If any group had wanted to be involved they only had to contact us.
10. Could the council have done any more to explain to the clubs involved how the precinct would affect them?
Following the meetings, at which many clubs put forward information on their future needs, the consultant started to devise the Master Plan.
The plan was put together as quickly as possible so it could get the master plan back to the clubs for discussion.
Until the master plan was finished there was not a lot for the clubs to discuss.
We believe that we have been as inclusive as possible and contacted as many clubs and groups as possible to outline the proposal and ask for their input.
Until we could put all of the input together to develop a master plan there was not a lot of feedback we could give the clubs.
This is a work in progress.