Electors meeting prompts council to set up projects expo

Kate FieldingSouth Western Times
Bunbury’s major projects will be showcased in a new expo.
Camera IconBunbury’s major projects will be showcased in a new expo. Credit: Graphic / South Western Times

Bunbury City Council will showcase the city’s major projects in a newly-designed expo aimed at encouraging greater community consultation.

The move follows last week’s special electors meeting in which councillor and ratepayers’ emotions boiled over after residents complained they were not adequately informed about a $40 million civic and cultural precinct project.

While the council has not committed any funding, it is preparing a business case for a precinct earmarked for the CBD near Bunbury Regional Art Gallery.

The council this week considered the electors meeting motion for more public consultation over the precinct proposal and although noting consultation would be a part of the business case, it also supported holding a community information session in November.

However, the recommendations put forward to the council did not provide enough comfort for Cr Brendan Kelly, who successfully moved for the council to convene a “City of Bunbury Projects Expo”.

Cr Kelly said the expo would bring all of the city’s projects into one place so the whole community could come out on a particular day and see what the council was doing.

“I believe that if we set up a City of Bunbury Projects Expo where people come and have a look at all of those different facets, it’s better than rent-a-crowd,” Cr Kelly said.

“If we need to, we’ll have a sausage sizzle, if we need to, we’ll have some face painting, we’ll have some entertainment.

“I think it’s important at this particular juncture in time to ensure that we encourage that engagement and bring people through the doors.”

Questions raised included why a civic and cultural precinct had been prioritised over projects such as bringing the train line back into the CBD and an ocean pool.

Mayor Gary Brennan told the South Western Times that no priority had been given and the precinct was not funded.

The council previously endorsed six priority projects which alongside the precinct, included an ocean pool, youth precinct, upgrades to Hands Oval infrastructure, CBD revitalisation and the Hay Park Master Plan.

“Our business case projects are those five or six areas, we haven’t prioritised any of them, we’re now waiting on the city staff to bring them back to us,” Mr Brennan said.

“Then we’ll make a call.”

These projects and others will feature in the expo, earmarked for 2020.

Mr Brennan said bringing the train line back into the city was a State Government issue worth “hundreds of millions of dollars”.

He said last week’s meeting showed the general community was “not familiar” with the process of electors meetings and a procedure was being developed to avoid confusion in the future.

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