Treading water

By Jackson Russell

MEMBER for Yan Yean Danielle Green has hit back at criticism about the lack of State Government Budget funding for a Wallan indoor pool, saying she could get the funding if Mitchell Shire Council were ready to proceed.

The group pushing for the long sought-after Wallan Sports and Aquatic Centre posted to its Facebook page last week, saying ‘after 30 years of lobbying, we have received donuts’.

Ms Green was quick to reply, revealing $137 million has been made available in the State Budget to fund shovel-ready community sport projects.

She said money was set aside in this year’s budget and for another round in six months’ time, which could fund a shovel-ready Wallan pool project.

But the ball was in the council’s court as it would need to complete all planning works, including identifying a location, before applying for funding.

It has been more than two years since Mitchell Shire Council received $150,000 of State Government funding in the 2018-19 State Budget towards the development of a masterplan for the future pool.

“Hopefully it’s something the new council can turn its mind to pretty quickly,” Ms Green said.

“I’d be delighted to work with council in making this dream a reality. The State Government and council have partnered successfully with so many other projects… there are a heap of things that we’ve done together, and I look forward to doing many more.”

Wallan Needs an Aquatic Centre Now member Roger Sanders said the group welcomed the announcement of a potential funding stream.

“We have not had this at all so everybody involved in the group is extremely excited. I would’ve, just in the last 24 hours, had 50 to 60 phone calls,” he said.

Ms Green said alternate funding opportunities were also available to council.

“The Growing Suburbs Fund would be an alternate source of funds and I would hope they would look to federal funding opportunities as well,” she said.

“For something as substantial as an aquatic centre, it might have to be phased over several years and federal funding could make that easier.”

Mitchell Shire Council chief executive Brett Luxford said council was preparing a study into aquatic facilities following a community consultation process, which received 900 responses.

“We heard the community loud and clear – the centre is important to them,” he said.

“The study will identify a number of potential sites a new Mitchell Sports and Aquatic Centre could be located as well as considerations around size and design and the best approach to servicing southern Mitchell.

“The draft study will be presented at a future council meeting. After this, we will consult with our community again on the finer details of a future site and potential funding opportunities.”

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