THE Mount Gambier Chamber of Commerce has urged Mount Gambier City Council to heed the calls of the city’s political leaders in regards to a proposed $40m sport and recreation centre.
Member for Barker Tony Pasin and Independent MP Troy Bell previously called on the council to commission a formal community poll to determine ratepayer support for the project.
Both Mr Pasin and Mr Bell said they were unwilling to lobby state and federal governments for funding without first determining whether the facility had widespread community support.
While a petition signed by over 10,000 people in favour of the proposed facility was presented to council in April, chamber president Lynette Martin agreed a more formal process was necessary to determine whether a majority of ratepayers were on board.
“Being the only independent voice representing business in our city, we fully support council’s investigation into the indoor/outdoor aquatic and recreation centre for Mount Gambier and surrounds,” Ms Martin said.
“However, we back the calls from Tony Pasin and Troy Bell to conduct a ratepayer poll, because ultimately it must be the ratepayers who decide if this development goes ahead.
“The chamber believes there will be a strong economic, cultural and social benefit to the city if such a facility was built.”
Chamber vice president Ben Hood echoed similar sentiments.
“We know the council is doing its due diligence and we appreciate this takes time,” Mr Hood said.
“We applaud them for this and have no doubt they will welcome a poll as called for.”
Mr Hood said the earlier petition demonstrated support from the wider community, but acknowledged it was also important to survey the opinions of ratepayers in particular.
“We believe the poll should be conducted to gauge the response from the city’s ratepayers and give council a definitive view on the facility, once all the relevant information has been made public,” he said.
Council is seeking $20m through the Federal Government’s Regional Growth Fund and at least $10m from the State Government for the project.
Council allocated $30,000 in this year’s budget towards concept plans and feasibility studies to inform the expression of interest application for the Regional Growth Fund.
Council will contribute $10m to the facility, however the project will not go ahead unless it secures funding from all three tiers of government.
Initial concept plans for the indoor/outdoor sport and recreation centre include a 25m swimming pool, warm water exercise pool, splash pad for toddlers and six multi-purpose indoor courts with retractable seating for a show court.
Dry areas also include a health and wellbeing suite, kiosk/cafe, bar, creche, a multipurpose event space and dedicated change rooms and toilets.
In its current form, the centre would be built at Olympic Park and the 50m outdoor pool at the aquatic centre would remain.