Shire adopts open space strategy

Northern Grampians Shire Council has prepared an 'Open Space, Sport and Recreation Strategy" which it believes responds to the changing needs of the community and seeks to increase participation in sport and recreation activities across the shire.

In moving a motion that the strategy be received and council work with relevant community groups and seek government funding to support the implementation of priority projects identified in the strategy, councillor Wayne Rice said it was great to hear from the community during its formation.

"It was certainly very good to hear from the communities about what it is they want and then to be able to build this into a report," he said.

"We have captured what the community feel and what they want and what they see as their future so when we see a funding opportunity we can deliver for our community what they want and not necessarily what we think is what they want or is in their best interests."

Council's Director Economic and Community Jim Nolan said council engaged SGL Consulting Group to prepare the strategy.

"Extensive community consultation with a range of sporting and community groups across the various towns and rural communities was undertaken," he said.

The project required the team to undertake a review of past planning and council documents, and to undertake a range of consultation which included a survey of clubs and organisations, online survey of schools, a survey of residents and facility users, stakeholder interviews with 16 organisations and public forums at St Arnaud and Stawell with representatives from about 40 groups/clubs/organisations as well as the general public.

"On the basis of this consultation and research, a number of recommendations are made in the strategy areas of facilities, programs and services within each strategy area and a suite of priority projects have been identified for council and the community to work together to achieve over the short, medium and long term.

"The strategy will also be an important tool in seeking funding necessary to deliver the identified community and council priorities."

Developing options for young people to volunteer and be actively engaged in employment and training in the community, providing passive and active recreational opportunities for residents and visitors throughout the shire and advocating for the responsible management of lakes and waterways are key recommendations.

Council has also determined to work to reduce the infrastructure renewal gap and manage roads, buildings and structures for safety and optimal use by developing a long-term capital works and projects program focused on asset renewal and commencing a project to review, consolidate and reduce building assets.

In support of Cr Rice's motion, Cr Karen Hyslop said the document helps set the future direction of council.

"It is a projection of where we are going so that the facilities are utilised by as many people as possible and that they remain as viable as possible," she said.

"A lot of our facilities running costs are increasing so I think we have got to be a bit clever about what we do with them."

Cr, Murray Emerson heaped praise on Jim Nolan and his team on council for the work they put in to produce the report.

"I think sometimes our community think that we've got a lot of people up there at the Town Hall and they’re  not doing very much. This is one instance where there was a heck of a lot of work, and a lot of work has been done by Jim and his team in regard to this," he said.

The strategy has been funded by a Sport and Recreation Victoria grant and in part by council.

Implementation of the priority projects within the strategy will be dependent on council's budget process and Council Plan priorities.

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