Sport is $44m short for Bunbury facilities

Kate FieldingSouth Western Times
The 10-year strategy reveals that $44.5 million is needed to develop the city’s community sporting facilities.
Camera IconThe 10-year strategy reveals that $44.5 million is needed to develop the city’s community sporting facilities. Credit: Graphic / South Western Times

More than $44 million is needed to meet Bunbury’s growing demand for sporting facilities after several sports were identified as being under resourced.

A draft plan to tackle the city’s sporting needs over the next decade will be put out for public comment in a bid to set out what Bunbury City Council’s priorities should be.

The Sport and Recreation Strategy 2019-2029 reveals that $44.5 million is needed to develop the city’s community sporting facilities.

That multi-million-dollar price tag does not include construction of new facilities.

The strategy confirms the cash needed is not included in the council’s long term financials and funding would need to come from a range of sources including State and Federal government grants, the sale of council assets and borrowings.

Court space for basketball and netball, soccer fields and multi-use synthetic surfaces are all identified in the strategy as being under resourced.

The need for more indoor courts would come as no surprise to the council with previous calls from local sporting groups remaining unanswered.

Mayor Gary Brennan said he was not concerned about the need for more sporting facilities identified in the strategy and it was a balancing act for the council.

“The fact is that we do our best as a city, we do what we can afford to do,” Mr Brennan said.

“Sure, there’s a demand for more basketball courts, there’s demand for another indoor aquatic facility, but it simply can’t be funded and that’s what we need to be mindful of.

“We’ve got to find that balance between what the community really would like to see and what we can afford as a community.”

He said the council already relied on – and would continue to – State and Federal government support and the $44.5 million was a big ask.

“My view is that every want can’t be met, but where possible we try and meet needs and there is a distinction between something you want and something you need,” he said.

“That’s the city’s role, to strike that balance and I think the community understand that there is an affordability limit and that’s what we have to work within.

“The city council needs to balance the needs of the entire community, not just one particular sport.”

The council has stressed the need for staff to continue to work with the Capel, Dardanup and Harvey councils for a more regional approach to sporting facilities.

Questions were raised by councillors during a briefing session last week about what contributions were being made for facilities, such as the South West Sports Centre, that were being used by residents across the entire region and not just Bunbury.

Mr Brennan last week expressed concern over the sports centre’s $2 million gap in operating expense, which is covered by Bunbury ratepayers.

He said it was essential that residents and sporting organisations provided feedback on the draft strategy before it went back to the council for adoption later this year.

“Sport and recreation is fundamental to people who live in Bunbury and Bunbury Geographe, it’s part of our DNA,” he said.

“So that draft is essential reading, particularly for sporting organisations and we’ve relied heavily on them to give us the basis of the draft.

“We really invite and encourage people to read that and give us their final feedback on the report and then it will come back to the city council for adoption.”

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