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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

DCSCA meets Cr. Rod Macdonald (6)

On 20 May, DCSCA Committee members met Councillor Rod Macdonald. This was the sixth of the quarterly meetings that DCSCA has initiated with the two City of Greater Geelong (CoGG) Councillors whose wards coincide with DCSCA's area - the other is Councillor John Doull (whom we met on 12 May).

Local amenities We asked when the Lake Lorne Masterplan would be implemented. CoGG's 2011/12 Budget includes some money to start work on some fencing, but no support for further work. Cr. Macdonald said that there would be a final consultation meeting with stakeholders (including nearby residents) in June or July 2011, following which the Masterplan would go to a Council meeting for approval. Once the Masterplan is approved, the Council will be asked to allocate money to its implementation.

CoGG's 2011/12 Budget allocated no money to implement the Masterplan for a regional sports/recreation hub at the junction of Andersons Road and Grubb Road in Drysdale. Cr. Macdonald said that money from the 2010/11 Budget would be used to complete the design of the Masterplan. The hub is planned to develop in three stages, but it depends on matching funds from the Victorian state government, which has made no commitment at this stage. Consequently, Cr. Macdonald couldn't say whether Stage One could start without those matching funds and whether Stage One will proceed without funds for Phases Two and Three being committed.

The Masterplan for the sports/recreation hub does not include a swimming pool, despite the clear - and growing - demand for one in Drysdale & Clifton Springs. We suggested that this is an issue for people not just in Drysdale & Clifton Springs but along the North Bellarine, because the Ocean Grove pool is over-subscribed and the pool in Portarlington has had an uncertain future. Cr. Macdonald said that the Portarlington pool's future was now assured and repeated the argument that there is insufficient demand to justify the $12m that it would cost to build a swimming pool in Drysdale & Clifton Springs. We said that DCSCA would persist in raising the matter, because of the strong local feeling about it. We also said that the area's expanding population meant that demand for a pool would only increase and that it takes so long to build such a facility that by the time it's finished, the demand - even on the Council's figures - would justify it. We suggested a compromise: nominate space for a pool in the Masterplan for the sports/recreation hub and then build it when the demand reaches an agreed level.

Local economic development
We said that the enormous success of the 2011 Festival of Glass (which Cr. Macdonald supported strongly) showed that people in the region are interested in glass and that there are lots of artists and craftspeople on the Bellarine who are using glass. Many of these people run small businesses already or, we suggested, would start new ones if appropriate support was available. We invited Cr. Macdonald to support DCSCA's proposal that CoGG uses the build-up to the 2012 Festival of Glass to announce a local business support program (e.g. advice and mentoring, assistance to explore new markets, rates relief) for small art and craft business on the Bellarine. Such a support program could link with the 'Made in Geelong' initiative, which offers small businesses short-term leases on empty shops in central Geelong, enabling small art and craft businesses on the Bellarine - individually or in partnerships - to test their economic viability in a town center.

Cr. Macdonald suggested that we should invite the CoGG economic development unit to have a stand at the 2012 Festival of Glass, which we shall certainly do. He discussed the possibility of creating a local business support program in the form of a web site designed explicitly to offer advice and information to people on the Bellarine who either own a small art/craft businesses or are thinking of establishing one. We said that we would develop the idea and contact him to discuss it further.

Finally, we suggested that CoGG could use its role as host of the forthcoming Sustainable Economic Growth for Regional Australia conference to showcase some initiatives around supporting local businesses to adapt to a post-carbon economy; and we asked whether there would be any community input into the conference, which is dominated by local and regional governments and businesses. Cr. Macdonald advised us to submit a proposal for a paper to the conference outlining our ideas; the conference committee (of which he is a part) would then decide whether to include it.

DCSCA's next quarterly meeting with Cr. Macdonald will be on Friday 5 August 2011. Any residents of the Drysdale/Clifton Springs area are welcome to ask DCSCA to raise any issue of concern with Cr. Macdonald.

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