Jody Lindbeck’s Mum’s the Word | OPINION, June 15, 2017

IT IS often argued that local government should “stick to the three Rs” – roads, rubbish and rates. Indeed, when you see the conga line of pet policies and causes some councils champion – despite the issues being well beyond the recognised jurisdiction – it’s easy to become perturbed by the seeming lack of attention given to the all-important basics.

Rubbish removal and roads may seem nondescript, but it doesn’t take much imagination to recognise how quickly life in our communities would become difficult with proper organisation of these services.

But sometimes, local government does need to step beyond its day-to-day charter and take the lead in helping bring improved facilities to our general community.

One such case must surely be the new Police Citizens Youth Club facility. It is being argued that the facility, with an estimated cost of between $15 and $18 million, will provide the region with a top-notch sporting venue within the larger at Bolton Park precinct

The goal is to have this new PCYC facility host a wide variety of activities and programs for every sector of the community. PCYC NSW says it has a particular interest in providing the youth of the region with a safe and fun environment to participate in organised sport and recreational activities, or to simply hang out with friends.

According to the organisation, this new Wagga facility will have the capacity to provide Wagga’s youth a safe and secure environment for an extended duration of each day, from am to 9pm.

It is estimated that more than 200,000 people will use the new centre annually. Wagga City Council is being asked to contribute $3 million to the project.

Council has been on talks on the project for the past six months, and a decision could be made as soon as this month’s monthly council meeting.

PCYC's Riverina regional general manager Brett Somerville has told The DA that the facility would have economic benefit and give the community “something to be proud of”. 

“From an investment perspective we’ve barely even touched on its ability to host major events,” he said. 

There is no two ways about it. Three million dollars is a lot of money, and there are any number of worthy projects in the community the council could support for less. But, I think there is something to be said for the long-term benefits of this particular scheme.

PCYC NSW has already argued that due to the age, condition, size and location of the existing club building in Gurwood Street, PCYC is restricted in its ability to deliver further activities and benefits for the Wagga community.

It says the limited activity space at the Gurwood Street site is running at full capacity during afternoons and evenings, which prevents staff from introducing new sport and recreational activities.

The argument that to remain relevant to the community and offer young people the range of activities they desire, the club requires more space which is safe, comfortable, compliant, practical and assessable seems quite reasonable. This is a facility which could be prove to be an asset to the ever-improving Bolton Park precinct.

A centrally located facility built to offer not only services to young people but the community at large is surely going to be an asset to our community. This is a practical, pragmatic bricks-and-mortar boost to our community.