Councils must ‘work together’ for sport

Kate FieldingSouth Western Times
South West Sports Centre acting team leader Gary Thompson, SWAS administrator Sandy Gard, SWAS chief executive officer Bernice Butlion and City of Bunbury acting manager sport and recreation James Shepherd outside the sports centre.
Camera IconSouth West Sports Centre acting team leader Gary Thompson, SWAS administrator Sandy Gard, SWAS chief executive officer Bernice Butlion and City of Bunbury acting manager sport and recreation James Shepherd outside the sports centre. Credit: South Western Times

Bunbury Geographe councils need to work together to meet the region’s burgeoning sporting demands, according to a new strategy set to be endorsed tonight.

Bunbury City Council is expected to endorse its draft sport and recreation strategy for the next decade with the comprehensive 50-page document setting out a list of actions and opportunities.

During a briefing session last week, councillors asked what discussions were happening between surrounding shires with most of the city’s sporting facilities being used by people across the region.

Concerns were also raised over the $2 million gap in operating the South West Sports Centre.

Mayor Gary Brennan told the Bunbury Herald the multi-million-dollar gap was having a big impact on the city’s ratepayers.

“The difference between operating revenue, just for the sports centre, and operating expenditure is $2 million each year and the ratepayers of Bunbury fund that,” Mr Brennan said.

“We’re not denying that Bunbury does benefit from having those regional facilities here but it is a massive cost burden for our ratepayers to continue to carry.

“It makes sense to have facilities spread throughout the Bunbury Geographe and it makes access for people who live in other parts of the Bunbury Geographe easier.”

Mr Brennan would not say what he believed the solution to close the gap was, but said he would wait for feedback from the strategy, which would go out for public comment.

He also said expanding the hard courts at the centre was “just not going to happen” unless there was significant investment from the State Government.

The need for extra court space has been a talking point in the city and is identified in the strategy.

Chief executive Mal Osborne told the council last week there was “no doubt” staff would be talking to the shires of Capel, Harvey and Dardanup about court space.

“Looking at the total provision of court space across the region, as one example, I think that model will need to be used for all sports as we look at demand versus capacity to provide,” Mr Osborne said.

Strategy and organisational performance acting director James Shepherd told the council the conversations with surrounding shires would continue and it had already been flagged that Bunbury was constrained for green space for extra sporting grounds.

“We’re making sure we’re avoiding duplication but also maximising our opportunities to generate funding opportunities without competing with each other as well,” Mr Shepherd said.

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