Wongan Hills Sports & Community Co-Location Project

Social and cultural related activities continue to play a critical role in the lives of people in the Shire of Wongan-Ballidu. These activities underpin the lifestyle options for people residing in Wongan Hills and are an attractive option for people looking to relocate to the town. The Shire allocates approximately 25% of its total budget to recreation and culture thus demonstrating its significant commitment to sport, recreation and culture in Wongan-Ballidu.

The Shire's Sports and Community Co-Location Project is an ambitious and long awaited project, which is starting to take shape thanks to the hard work and dedication of numerous volunteers and staff. 

History 

In 2004, the Shire commissioned independent consultants to complete a recreation, culture and sport plan . The planning process involved extensive community consultation and highlighted, as one of the key focus areas, the need to consider colocation of infrastructure where the need could be justified and the viability proven. Colocation of infrastructure across the Wheatbelt is widespread and encouraged by the Department of Local Government Sport and Culture (DLGSC) where appropriate. This principle is also supported by the sport and recreation industry and was highlighted in its first true strategic planning document in 1997 i.e. “Strategic Directions 1” which stated that “joint provision and shared use of facilities” should be encouraged.

In 2011, the shire underwent an extensive consultation process to produce its “Strategic Community Plan (SCP): 2012 – 2021” . It identified the need to consider colocation of facilities based on demonstrated need and viability that would lead to a more efficient and effective use of council funds. The current sports pavilion (constructed in 1970) currently colocates football, cricket, hockey, basketball and netball and is a good example of the effectiveness of colocation and use of limited funds to achieve a positive outcome. The shire began to look to rationalise its standalone facilities and colocate wherever possible.

It was also becoming apparent that changes in local and state government funding necessitated a review and a reprioritsation of upgrades.

In 2015, the shire, following extensive community consultation engaged MCG Architects to develop a series of concept plans for consideration by the relevant parties. In keeping with the strategic community plan, the shire appointed a “Colocation Committee”, which is representative of a cross section of community members. This committee's mandate was very clear - to facilitate all current and future users of the redeveloped precinct to determine:

  • current membership, growth, trends and future plans and activities of each organisation
  • how and when they did and will use the new precinct
  • how the redveloped precinct could better meet their needs
  • ideas and alternative solutions to meet those needs
  • how their organisation could contribute to any proposed redevelopment

Following this extensive consultation, the following options were identified:

  • Maintain the status quo (do nothing)
  • Completion of the entire project (dependant on gaining funding )
  • Staging of the project according to a needs prioritisation. 

Overwhelmingly, users told us that the following 4 points were the most important for the future sustainability of the redeveloped precinct:

  1. Provision of safe, quality and sustainable playing surfaces and venues
  2. Internal and external aesthetic improvements and modernisation to create a more attractive and welcoming venue
  3. Internal changes to some areas to improve accessibility and functionality including an overhaul of changerooms and toilets
  4. An overhaul of the sewerage, power and lighting provisions

Context 

Community cohesion and connectedness will be increased through the capacity for events such as assemblies, sport or community presentations, art exhibitions, concerts, markets, bingo, swap meets, graduations and events to be held within the facility, as well as its use as an emergency evacuation centre. All of these community events aim to deliver a sense of togetherness and interaction and strengthen the physical and mental wellbeing of users.

This Project will substantially increase the capacity for non-organised sporting activities such as community challenges, corporate and charity challenges, school holiday clinics, club development activities, cultural activities etc. This Project has enormous scope to involve people of all ages and abilities in whole of community activities.

The Story So Far

In 2017, the Shire of Wongan-Ballidu began actively pursuing two potential funding sources to secure the entire project: the State Government’s Community Sport and Recreation Facilities Fund (CSRFF) and the Federal Government’s Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF).

Each of these grants were conditioned differently, and the eligible scope of works varied greatly.

The Shire had applied for CSRFF funding in 2016, but was unsuccessful as the State Government was not prepared to fund the total project, and advised the Shire to instead stage the project. A second CSRFF application, this time for only Stage One of the Colocation Project (the building of new tennis courts, including associated siteworks and ancillary infrastructure such as fencing) was submitted in early September 2017.

In March 2018, the Shire received official notification from the Department of Local Government, Sport Recreation and Cultural Industries that the CSRFF grant has been successful, however the one third of total project cost requested, had been reduced by approximately $100,000. Council agreed to fund this shortfall. We were also advised that the BBRF funding had not been successful. 

In September and October 2018, the Shire submitted further funding applications to the Australian Sports Commission's Community Sports Infrastructure Grant, Tennis Australia and Lotterywest, to be used in conjunction with the already secured CSRFF funding. 

Success in all these funding options, together with the Shire’s existing commitment, will see the entire Colocation project completed across stages by 2021. 

Update - 23 October 2018 

It is with much excitement that the long awaited ‘Sports and Community Co-Location Project’ is finally gearing up.

The entire project will see the existing Wongan Hills Sports Pavilion upgraded to a true sporting and community hub that will house numerous sports and community facilities.

Stage One of the project will see the construction of six new Tennis Courts utilising $435,000 Community Sport and Recreation Facilities Funding from the Department of Sport and Recreation and existing Council Financial Reserves, and is anticipated to commence later this year.

Further staging will be confirmed once the outcome of Funding Applications currently being assessed are known.

Recently, individuals and businesses from the entire Shire banded together to cart sand to be stockpiled for siteworks for the project.

Up to 100 individuals were involved over 4 days, carting 9000 cubic metres of sand into the site, from the pit located on land owned by the Wongan Hills Sports and Recreation Council.

The Sand Carting was an immense community effort, and done entirely with community and business volunteer and donated time and labour, machinery, fuel and materials.

People and businesses came together from all corners of the Shire in a great show of community spirit and effort, and we are very grateful and thankful for their support.

If you would like to know more about the Colocation Project, please do not hesitate to get in touch with a member of the Committee.

Community Colocation Steering Committee:
Don Sadler, Jeff Brennan, Megan Pawsey, Matt Sewell, Stuart Taylor



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