Centre of contention

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Photo by Tofros.com from Pexels

by Joshua Wells

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MITCHELL Shire Council has buckled to public pressure and will extend Kilmore Leisure hours to 4pm on weekends.

Council’s action comes after a Kilmore resident slammed the council over approving two fast food outlets but not extending the Kilmore Leisure Centre’s hours. The resident, Sharon Doyle, recently launched a petition to request the council to have the opening hours on weekends extended from a 1pm close to a 4pm close.

She believes the centre is a vital part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle for residents in the region.

“Mitchell Shire organises a sound health service through Nexus Primary Health and has touted itself as being serious about positive health outcomes,” she said.

“Unfortunately, it has decided this year to not extend the weekend opening hours of its pool and gymnasium over the summer period.”

“Mitchell Shire Council has approved the building of two [fast food outlets] in both Kilmore and Wallan and at least two extra liquor outlets.”

“If Mitchell Shire Council is serious about the promotion of health in this area of Victoria, it needs to provide opportunities for healthy activities by opening its own facilities, which are paid for by not only members but rate payers of the municipality.”

The Mitchell Shire resolved to grant a planning permit in May 2016 for the McDonald’s in Wallan, while McDonald’s in Kilmore opened in late 2016. More than 500 people have since signed the petition.

Reedy Creek resident Craig Meggs said a trial period which saw opening hours extended last year wasn’t publicised enough.

“Them [the council] saying low patronage is a huge cop out as nothing has been done to promote the centre,” he said.

“They opened up to 4pm on a trial basis but there was no indication or marketing… we could do with longer opening hours.”

“I think there is an element of health risk. It will benefit the community to know on the weekend they can go there and get active, it can’t be a bad thing and the council has a duty of care.”

Earlier, in a written response to the North Central Review, Mitchell Shire Council Mayor Rhonda Sanderson said the 2017/18 budget did not include extra hours beyond an extension in late January when patronage picks up.

However, at the weekend in a notice to leisure members council advised that “In response to feedback, we’re extending operating hours on weekends starting Saturday 16 December.”