By Michael Giles

THERE are a lot of great things going on in the Bass Coast Shire.
It’s a great place to live.
And, with all the bad news we get served up to us on a daily basis, it’s refreshing to see some fantastic improvements coming our way.
At last week’s Bass Coast Shire Council meeting, held in Grantville, considerable time was taken up towards the end of the meeting approving contracts for some terrific sporting projects, like the $418,500 for the reconstruction of the Inverloch Netball Courts, just over $1 million for the redevelopment of the Wonthaggi Tennis Courts and $557,000 for the Inverloch Tennis Courts.
There was also $488,000 for the Inverloch Netball Pavilion to include new changerooms, multi-purpose space, meeting room and medical room all with better access for all users, to be built by local firm TS Constructions.
Good on the shire for getting those projects over the time BUT, and it’s a huge ‘but’! The big-ticket item at last week’s council meeting was the commitment given by council to a $19 million rebuild of the Cowes Cultural and Community Centre.
Say what?
Yes, $19 million, to be funded mainly by increasing the shire’s debt by a whopping $15 million.
Never mind that it’s not even the community’s number one priority, borrowings like that MUST be leveraged against government grants to maximise capital and service delivery.
It could generate dollar-for-dollar or more.
Sure, arts and culture are important and the aim of linking civic, health and public transport uses in a central focal point for the community is laudable but it’s not what the majority of Islanders (or visitors to the area for that matter) want.
And as a further indictment on the council, the reason given by one of the councillors spoken to by the Sentinel-Times after the meeting, for not going with the aquatic centre first, is “we don’t even have a site for the pool yet!”
That’s ridiculous! How long has it been the top priority for the community, and still not even a site! Come on!
The get-out clause for the community is that the council hasn’t borrowed the $15 million yet and they’ve only decided to “allocate funding of $19 million in the draft 2020/21 and 2021/22 budget”. It can still be overturned. There’s also a council election in October 2020.
But they have committed the community to further design and development work, to be completed in the first half of 2020.
What’s your opinion – aquatic centre or community centre?
Maybe, like Bairnsdale model, we could combine the two