Rec Centre funds request

Wednesday January 09, 2019

Published by The Border Watch

By Raquel Mustillo

MOUNT Gambier City Council representatives will meet with Premier Steven Marshall today in a bid to secure $15m for the proposed Mount Gambier sport and recreation hub after electors resoundingly voted in support of the facility. 

Just under three-quarters - an overwhelming 71.6pc - of the total 8722 returned elector surveys supported the multi-million dollar complex development. 

The total number of yes votes tallied 6230, while 2466 electors voted no. 

Around .13pc of votes were invalid. 

With $15m earmarked for the project by the Federal Government from the Regional Growth Fund, council will now seek matching funding from the State Government. 

A condition of the Federal Government grant requires council to secure a funding commitment for the project by January 24. 

Council chief executive Mark McShane and Mayor Lynette Martin will travel to Adelaide this morning for a meeting with Premier Marshall at the State Administration Centre. 

Ms Martin said the results, which had a higher return rate than the local government elections, had “clearly indicated” the community wanted the project to go ahead. 

“We thank all electors who took the time to lodge a vote and have a say, a 45pc return rate is an excellent result for a survey of this type and this compares with the November 2018 council election that saw an elector return rate of 43pc,” she said. 

“In the lead up to and during the survey process, council undertook an intensive community engagement program to assist electors to make an informed decision about the project and I commend the staff and councillors for their efforts. 

“Council also thanks the Community Reference Group for its involvement in the design process of the facility and the former council for its hard work.” 

The elector survey was distributed to 19,332 residents by independent market research company Market Solutions, which labelled the return rate as high “for a postal survey”. 

Member for Barker Tony Pasin, who along with independent MP Troy Bell called for a community vote on the project last year, said the strong turn out demonstrated there was “no doubt” a majority of the city’s residents backed the hub. 

The Liberal MP urged his state counterparts to contribute to the largest proposed infrastructure project in the council’s history. 

“I see many social and economic benefits of the project to the Limestone Coast and I look forward to seeing it progress, including a funding commitment from the State Government to match the $15m secured by me from the Federal Government last year,” he said. 

Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell said he had met with Premier Marshall “numerous times” in relation to the funding, pledging to continue to work with council in seeking State Government support. 

“The community of Mount Gambier has made its view clear and I thank all the local residents who took the time to take part in this important vote,” he said. 

If the State Government provides a funding commitment, the proposed facility will be built at Olympic Park and would retain the existing 50 metre outdoor pool. 

Council’s contribution towards the capital cost will be approximately $9.1m and will be made up of savings, loans and part of the annual capital works budget. 

The plan includes six indoor courts with retractable seating with capacity to seat up to 2000 people. 

It is expected the project will take three years to complete. 

Operating costs are estimated to be $1.4m per year.