Pictured above: more than 300 people gathered in protest last week.
Lennox Head is about to be given its first and last chance to oppose the Olympic Ski Jump training facility at Lake Ainsworth Sport and Rec, when the DA goes on public display in the next couple of weeks.
Even if Council were opposed (and some Councillors are) it is not able to come to the rescue here. While many people think this facility is too big, ugly and inappropriate to actually happen, the bureaucratic cogs are in motion and it will be built unless the town makes its voice very loudly heard.
Some things people may not know about the proposed facility:
- It will not be Council’s call. Although the DA is lodged with Council, the facility could have been built without it. The Council’s planning staff prepare the assessment report for provision to theJoint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP). In the end it will be the JRPP that looks at the application – and all the objections. Even the JRPP doesn’t have the power to actually refuse the development, but only to refer it to a higher body, most likely the minister.
- The project is a state and national collaboration and will be partially funded by the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) and the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) to the amount of $5 million. The project budget is $10.725 million and the facility will be wholly owned by the NSW Government.
- The DA is not on public display yet, but that is likely to happen within the next couple of weeks. From there the public has 4 weeks to lodge their objections.
- There has been no demonstrated case for any economic boost to the town. A study into the possible economic benefits was apparently carried out by Deloittes, but this report is being kept under wraps.
- Tenders for construction are secret and are not restricted to the local area. There is no guarantee that local contractors will get the work.
- The Queensland government cancelled the planned construction of a similar facility there in 2012 because there were no measurable economic benefits.
- It is very unlikely that the facility will be open to the public, except possibly for limited team training sessions.
- All other facilities like this around the world are either built into hills, in developed areas, or sports training facilities.
- There have been two public information sessions, but these have more closely resembled presentations, and neither have gathered opinions or asked locals whether or not they support the facility.
- The people of Jindabyne are keen to host the facility there, and have a Sport and Recreation Camp available.
What you can do
- There will be a Walk Against the Ski Jump on Saturday 27 May at Williams Reserve from 2.30.
(Last Thursday over 300 people gathered to howl at the moon and oppose the project. The event, which was organised by local arts organisation Lennox Arts Board, was supported by protest group Lennox Head Against the Ski Jump.)
- As soon as the DA goes on public exhibition, go and have a look at it. If you are even slightly doubtful about your views, this will help you decide.
- If you are opposed, write a letter or email to the General Manager at Ballina Shire Council outlining your concerns, and contact your local MP. While you’re there, send your letter off to the Minister for Sport, Minister for Planning and the Premier’s office.
- At this stage aim to get your submission in well before 15 June, although this time may be extended, if the DA goes on exhibition later than expected.
- Like the Lennox Head Against The Ski Jump Facebook page to keep up to date with what’s happening.
The DA can be viewed online here.