The ACT Government recently invited all recognised ACT peak sporting and active recreation bodies, ACT district community councils and ACT Licensed Clubs to contribute to the establishment of a register of potential sport and recreation infrastructure projects in the ACT. Eligible organisations were given the opporuntity to submit up to fifteen (15) priority sport and active recreation infrastructure projects using an online survey.
The structure of the survey and the level of detail of being sought was not something the GCC could complete but provided the following general response:
The GCC’s high level advocacy goals are to improve planning and community engagment, and to ensure that Gungahlin is completed with all the services and facilities residents expect of a Canberra district. This is captured in our ACT Election 2020 Expectations, which specifically highlights a need to Address shortfall in sport, recreation and community services. This goal is very challenging given the lack of land remaining in Gungahlin, and the absence of a strategic approach for identiyfing what will fit where across *all* needs, not just those of a specific directorate. Many residents are also disillusioned by long delays in infrastructure being established in Gungahlin and the uncoordinated way in which it is built.
The GCC encourages all ACT Directorates, including the Sports and Recreation Directorate, to take a citizen-centric approach in developing facilities that would get away from being locked into specific projects and/or sport-specific projects, particuarly regarding very basic infratrcuture such as:
- access roads
- storage (why is that the ACT has container sheds scattered over its playing fields ?)
Too often a project is undertaken without taking a big picture approach (eg. why didn’t the new Gungahlin Tennis centre look at adding to parking at the Amaroo District Playing fields (which is in short supply), rather than building their own ?). There are opportunities for major and minor sports to partner on projects which would add value to parties at both ends of the scale.
Our position is informed by more than two decades of input from residents, stakeholder groups, surveys and (significantly) the ACT Government itself which has conducted several studies into community facilities over this time. Most recently the Community and Recreational Facilities Assessment—Gungahlin District identified 28 types of community facility with only 10 categorised as likely sufficient to meet demand through to 2045, as indicated below.
It’s important to note that the GCC does not agree with some of the data related to sporting/recreation facilities, notably:
- Skate Park/BMX Facility – see comments below under Yerrabi Jumps/Skate Park (should be RED); there is no BMX facility
- Aquatic Facilities – the GCC is of commercial interest (Aquatots) in establishing additional learn to swin centres in Gungahlin (should be YELLOW)
- Lawn Bowls and Croquet – there is no facility, and no plans for a facility (the assessment suggest the demand is nil; so why does it even appear ?)
The GCC has also been a member of the ACT Northern Region Sport and Recreation Reference Group (ANRS; now lapsed due to lack of funding). This group included some major sports (eg. hockey, cricket), several minor sports (volleyball, table tennis) and several community organisations. The GCC supported their submissions which focussed on the cross-sport issues in Gungahlin and the unique demographic characteristics of Gungahlin (ie. younger, more diverse, more families than any other Canberra district). Moreover, many Gungahlin residents are new to Canberra or new to Australia and are looking for ways to connect through sports and recreation activities that are perhaps not part of the current mainstream.
From the ANRS meetings it was obvious that most sports associations and sport/recreation providers are extremely interested in establishing themselves in Gungahlin. Many are significantly constrained by the availability, and in some cases the affordability of appropriate facilities, to host their competitions and provide training.
For sports and recreation activities that operate indoors, this problem is acute.
It is acknowledged that the halls and facilities of public schools in Gungahlin are available for hire, but they are heavily oversubscribed, particularly in the hours after school finishes during the week. Sports that are less established often find that “historical bookings” take precedence, making their establishment in the region more difficult. Many of the schools halls and spaces are not fit-for-purpose because they lack storage facilities, lack scale in terms of number of courts/spaces and are not suitable for some sports/activities (eg. ceiling height for badminton, ability to support wheelchairs). There is a lack of consistency about which schools offers spaces for hire, they are difficult to book and often costly.
Moreover, the shortage of community spaces across Gungahlin means there are very few options to pursue beyond the schools. A substantial investment is required in a large multisport indoor facility (or multiple indoor facilities) in Gungahlin to address this need.
In 2019, the GCC conducted a survey of residents – a summary of responses to the question “Please select your top 3 additional recreation facilities?” (1486 responses; detailed comments available upon request) highlighted (ie. selected by more than 20% of respondents):
- Indoor sports centre (43%)
- More BBQ Areas/Public Toilets
- More Playgrounds
- More Walking Paths
- Outdoor Swimming Places in Lakes and Ponds
- More Nature Trails
- Walks with Featured Signage
Over the past decade, the GCC is aware of the following specific advocacy related to sporting facilities:
- Learn to Swim (Aquatots) – existing pools are packed; looking to establish more pools (no identified suitable location)
- Nichols Playing Fields (Gungahlin Eagles Rugby Union Club) – “Nicholls Enclosed Oval has been the hub of community activity in Gungahlin since the mid 90s. The precinct remains relatively untouched for more than 25-years and no longer adequately serves the requirements of the Gungahlin Community and needs to be upgraded to address
- Inadequate number of change rooms to accommodate multiple male & female teams.
- Females use bathrooms that are in dark, cold and unsecure facilities.
- Inadequate Hot Water supply.Change rooms are not big enough to fit teams and their medical equipment.
- There is insufficient storage for new training equipment tailored for new women’s programs.
- There is no covered spectator seating.
- The Community Centre is no longer fit for purpose.”
- Tennis (Tennis ACT) – the GCC supported the Tennis ACT initiative to establish the Amaroo centre and were disappointed that the high cost to build on this site has impacted the quality of the facility (clubhouse size, number of courts)
- Mountain Biking (Gungahlin MTB Network) – Apart from the Centennial Trail, there are no established Mountain Bike trails in Gungahlin; attempts to secure a potential site from interested advoactes met with little support from PCS and TCCS. Supported by CORC and Pedal Power.
- Yerrabi Jumps (Gungahlin Yerrabi Ponds Dirt Jump Core User Group) – The GCC supported the funding request for the Yerrabi Ponds Jumps, but the site is now in uregnt need of refurbishment/repair
- Yerrabi Skate Park – like other skate parks in the ACT, this facility is now very dated and needs refurbishment
- Disc Golf (ACT Disc Golf Club) – The ACT Disc Golf has explored the idea of establishing a disc golf course in Gungahlin, potentially in the space between Amaroo and Moncrief and possibly in partnership with some moutain bike trails in the same area
- General Recreation (Walking, Running, Cycling) – Gungahlin lacks the fire trail network associated with most Canberra districts that support walking, running, off-road cycling, in part because many of the surrounding reserves/block restrict access. A more pragmatic approach is needed to address this.