ITEM 25 ON SUPPLEMENTARY AGENDA FOR ORDINARY COUNCIL MEETING NO. 7/05, WEDNESDAY 10th AUGUST 2005- 15
DRAFT SPORTS FACILITY STRATEGY
The DRAFT SPORTS FACILITY STRATEGY for the Shire appeared at short notice on the agenda for the 10th August council meeting. It's timing was one week before council discusses its own proposal to erect a $6 million horse centre for less than 340 Shire residents. The councillors deferred a decision on the DSFS.
In the amended DSFS document, information is listed about existing sports in the Shire, covering eleven different activities across nearly 90 groups. There are are notes against 26 of them. One thing that emerges is the acute shortage of facilities that a number of them are experiencing.
The initial DSFS comment No. 9 said of the proposed horse centre at Galston:
An amended version of this DSFS reads:
One wonders how this contrary advice came to be accepted by those who put the DSFS together. All of a sudden the proposal is given 'High' priority.
Item 9: Rural Sports Facility, Bayfield Road, Galston is a four-paragraph argument in favour of the horse centre. The second paragraph mentions submissions for and against the proposed centre, but fails to note that they're in the region for 5 'against' to every 1 'for'. It goes on to make the dubious claim that the matter has been on the Council agenda for 20 years. The HSLP of 2001 seems to have been its first appearance, and in that plan it was but one activity nominated as requiring more facilities (para 2). Many other sports activities count their participants in the thousands, whereas horse-riders number less than 340 across the entire Shire (although some estimate that number to be more like 102-150).
Paragraph 3 says any expansion or upgrading of the [ present] Johson Road site is not expected to be permissible under Council's planning controls as there are significant constraints on this site associated with its proximity to nearby residential properties and in particular the accomodation [sic] of equestrian groups other than Arcadia Pony Club. There are 'significant constraints' on the proposed site, too - parking, pollution, traffic, noise, and so on. The DSFS fails to mention these. It seems to be into advocacy mode regarding the horse centre.
Hornsby Shire's lack of facilities for horse riders is largely a myth: it is acknowledged in the DSFS that there is an already existing public horse riding facility in the Shire (cfr above and also 3.4.9). There are plenty of fields and paddocks in the immediate vicinity of the proposed site where horses can be ridden and jumped and are, indeed, ridden and jumped. What the proponents of the new facility are after is something quite extraordinary - such as is usually found in showgrounds.
Some might see this DSFS as divisive, promoting the interests of a few in the face of the huge needs of thousands. S94 monies could be allotted more logically to other, more critical needs simply by assigning these needs to the same category as the proposed Galston horse centre. It's within council's power to do this if it has the resolve.
Of note was the comment of one of the council staff at the 10th August meeting when he was asked about maintenance of sports faciities. He replied that funds are short, and facilities are maintained as best they can be. One wonders, then, about the horse centre, a high maintenance proposal, the upkeep of which is still uncosted. And yet it is put forward for acceptance in the DSFS.
Also of note was the statement by someone who, speaking in favour of the Galston centre, said that the place in Johnson Road was 'not open to the general public because of the high cost of insurance.' Presumably, he wants Hornsby Shire residents to bear this high cost, not the users of the facility.