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Byron Shire
December 6, 2021

More money to fix Cavanbah Centre failures

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Margaret Keating, Ocean Shores. 

I read in The Echo last issue, that $10million is to be spent to redevelop Cavanbah Centre owing to ‘poor planning prior to construction’.  This centre only opened five years ago.

At least we now know where our extraordinary rate rise is being spent.

Who is responsible for this ‘poor planning’ ? And please don’t insult ratepayers by saying the rate rise is being spent on infrastructure to enhance Byron Shire.

If Council got things right in the planning processes, maybe we wouldn’t have needed this extraordinary hardship tax on our community.

Ten million dollars can go a long way to filling potholes.


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  1. Thomas George wants to more the railway line for housing development. Thomas George is leaving politics so this year will be about development from Thomas George and the destruction of the railway line.

  2. There is a real danger with assuming that greater expenditure on the Centre will increase patronage and decrease losses. There is one big disincentive to anyone wanting to use this centre for a relaxing swim or gym workout – Ewingsdale Rd! I’m afraid the experience of getting through Byron then tackling this road makes anything in this area a wasteland for me. The trip in and out would likely negate any health (especially mental health) benefits gained from the exercise or massage. No solutions, only promise of exacerbation for the future.

    Byron Shire has a very small permanent population with a lot of it living quite a distance (particularly in travel time) from this facility. It is quite a gamble to suggest this population can produce enough patronage to sustain ten million dollars worth of extra facilities, including an additional pool. Many small communities find funding a pool difficult let alone one surrounded by beautiful beaches. A much smaller investment in solar covers would greatly extend the current pool season in this mild climate.

    Has there been any study of how much usage is likely from the average laid-back tourist? The GM envisages much patronage from the growing popularity of sports tourism and the development of glamping on the site. True, there might be a big attraction if patrons can stay on-site but if the facility my rates will be gambled on will be taken up with sports camps and I can’t use it, or will be overwhelmed by large numbers of elite athletes, it’s not the community sports facility I would have wanted in return.

    The GM regrets the ‘built it and they will come’ thinking that led to the original poor planning but there seems to be much of the same in the current optimistic projections. Let’s hope we don’t end up with an extra ten million’s worth of white elephant.

  3. The actual execution of the contract to build the centre was the usual council staff administrative disaster with many questions still remaining in in the wind. Most of the capital came from the federal government delivered in the paddock by Albo his self. The motivation for such largess was undoubtedly the precarious electoral standing of our beloved but ephemeral local member Justine.
    Those now second guessing the wisdom of the project should be aware that it was an instance of rare and furious agreement between the mayor Jan Barham and her would-be nemesis Ross Tucker (remember him?).
    The reason it failed to thrive is most likely the reluctance of locals to travel (even small distances) and their steadfast devotion to local facilities. Add to this the disaster that is Ewingsdale Rd now and the fact it will become nothing but a car park with West Byron.
    With council staff back in the rehab driving driving seat I wouldn’t be inclined to buy shares in its success.


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