It’s important that as a sporting community, we understand the Council plan for the development and maintenance of sporting facilities in our region. At this time, there are two Council documents guiding the future of our sporting facilities, and these aren’t yet aligned – the Long Term Plan and the Community Facilities Strategy.
The Long-Term Plan sets out priorities and work programmes for the upcoming 10-year period on all things the Council is responsible for. It outlines what GDC plans to do, how it fits together and what it will cost. This plan is reviewed every three years, and the community have the opportunity to provide feedback on the draft plan which may inform decision makers on its direction. This consultation provides an important opportunity for sport and recreation organisations to make a submission to ensure that the importance of sporting facilities is reflected in Council plans.
The Community Facilities Strategy is a document which was adopted by Council in January 2018, after a long and thorough consultation process with the community sector (including sports). This document seeks to inform 30 years of upgrades to and maintenance of our sporting facilities, taking into account the trends of local sport, levels of demand and accessibility to the entire region. This plan provides a robust and streamlined approach to ensuring that Tairāwhiti has the sporting facilities that it deserves.
So, where’s the variation?
In the Long-term plan, there is no commitment to the implementation of the Community Facilities Strategy, despite its adoption by Council (due to timing issues between LTP and CFS plans). To implement the strategy would at the very least be to dedicate some resource to:
- the creation of a position dedicated to guiding the major projects outlined in the CFS
- the funding of feasibility studies and business cases to ensure that these projects can influence funding
- the alignment of upgrades and maintenance of council sports facilities to match the priorities outlined in the CFS.
What’s in the Draft Long Term Plan for sport and recreation?
In the draft plan, Council have not dedicated any funding to the Community Facilities Partnership position, or the feasibility studies and business cases of major projects highlighted as priorities in the CFS. They are committing significant resource to the Olympic Pool redevelopment, but that aside the only planned spending on sporting facilities are improvements at The Oval, Heath Johnston Park, Nelson Park, Hatea-a-Rangi Domain and Waikirikiri Park. This is of concern, when this spending doesn’t match the rigorously tested community informed priorities within the CFS.
What do we want to see in the final LTP?
Our belief is that the biggest impact to the sport sector can be made by a small reallocation of Council resource, to commit funding to the Community Facilities Partnerships Position, to funding Feasibility and Business Cases, and to acknowledging the importance of the CFS within the Long Term Plan. This small input from Council will give the volunteer-driven clubs and organisations in our region the support that they need to turn their facility dreams into realities. This isn’t about ratepayers coughing up for expensive, specialist facilities, but smart spending, which will influence great changes downstream.