I suggest that the Bass Coast councillors look up in their dictionary the definition of cultural and community. Nowhere will they find the word “commercialism” included.
• Cultural: the way of life, especially the general customs and beliefs, of a particular group of people at a particular time.
• Community: An ideal community includes safety, predictability, opportunities, access to goods and services, relationships between citizens, common values and goals, and a recognised place in the social structure.
The council, therefore, should be condemned in passing the motion, Report Requiring Council Decision item H6, on last Wednesday’s council meeting, for the proposed amendment of the Cowes Cultural and Community Centre Masterplan to lease office space to Phillip Island Nature Parks; a statutory body and non-ratepayer.
The council should not be in the business to develop on borrowed money a ratepayer-owned cultural centre into a commercial office block.
The argument from the council CEO and councillors is that this is a golden opportunity to get started on the redevelopment of the Cultural Centre at no cost to the ratepayers and would improve local business.
The CEO’s explanation that PINP required an answer by the end of the month or would most likely look elsewhere and that it would be a lost business opportunity, hardly justifies the haste with which this motion was rushed through council with no robust discussion taking place.
It would indicate that the majority of the councillors had already made up their minds and a motion from Cr Steve Fullarton to carry over the decision till the next council meeting to enable the community to examine the proposal was voted down.
One might ask why this decision needed to be voted on at this time; as the item, H6, to allocate this money is in the draft budget and comments on the draft do not close until May 30, with budget approval not until June 21.
If we are to develop a ratepayer owned property, we should ask ourselves and councillors what is in it for the residents and ratepayers in this new proposal.
The simple answer is nothing at all.
This redevelopment plan consists of only of office space with approximately 70 per cent of this for PINP offices!
The new updated proposal is also different to the previous proposal in that it encroaches on the only green area we have in the Cowes business area.
One of the items in the council recommendation is for office space to be available for municipal purposes, existing associations and community groups, though I did not see on the drawings any space designated for community groups.
If the council and the councillors are so keen to please PINP and attract their commercial business I suggest that they redevelop/update the shire offices in Wonthaggi to accommodate PINP using the leasing formula suggested which would be at no cost to the Bass Coast ratepayers.
Is the council CEO, under the slogan “Shaping a better Bass Coast” in the statement of Governance and that they are responsive, open, transparent and financially sustainable, going to release the terms and condition of the leasing agreement with PINP or is the CEO going to hide under the slogan commercial in confidence.
Any shire owned halls, cultural centres and sporting complexes should be for the use by the community and not by commercial businesses.
I urged all the resident and ratepayers of the Bass Coast community to put their comments on Facebook www.pipa@islandprogress.com.au and email their counsellors.
John Trigt, Surf Beach.