By Kirra Grimes
THE dispute over the proposed Inverloch Sound Shell continues, with the local tourism association determined to delay construction, citing insufficient community consultation on the structure’s design.
The Inverloch Lions Club is pushing ahead with a design chosen following community consultation in 2016 and 2017, and plans to fence off the site at The Glade to begin construction next month.
But the Inverloch Tourism Association is adamant the community of Inverloch was not given enough opportunity to have their say on the design, and is exploring several avenues to postpone the project so that further consultation can be done.
According to the ITA’s communications officer, Gary Tayler, these include “lobbying” Bass Coast Shire Council, the Crown land manager of The Glade, to put the project on pause, on the grounds that the public funds it gave to the project ($45,000 in the 2018/19 Capital Works Program and an additional $150,000 in Resort and Recreation Reserve funding in November 2018) should not be spent on a design the community may not want.
The association is also “looking at” legal action, but is hoping “community outrage” will be enough to “drag the Lions back to the table” to consider other design options.
“The community has not had sufficient opportunity to comment on such a prominent piece of public infrastructure being built with public money,” Gary said.
“A concrete and corrugated iron sound shell, designed in the late 90s for Traralgon with reported poor acoustic properties, is not fit for purpose and has no sense of place in The Glade Inverloch. Therefore, it should not be built in its current form.”
A petition is “being organised,” Gary said, as well as a social media campaign.
“We’re calling on Council to put a stop on the commencement of works until the community has been provided the opportunity to comment on the Inverloch Lions Club’s final design compared to an alternate design.
“We want the community consulted and involved for the benefit of today’s and future generations, because it’s going to be there for the next 50 years.”
As far as the Lions are concerned “there’s only one option to pursue” and it’s simply “too late” to change the design.
This is also the official line from Bass Coast Shire Council, whose Acting CEO Jodi Kennedy, in response to questions about the possibility for further consultation, told the Sentinel-Times: “The Lions Club has signed a contract with TS Constructions and fabrication of the components has begun. Work is expected to begin on site in early February 2020”.
Inverloch Lions president Gary McAinch told the Sentinel-Times: “It’s going ahead”.
“The contracts were signed before this all started. The train had left the station,” he said.
Community consultation undertaken in 2016/17 included both paper and online surveys facilitated by the Inverloch Lions Club and Rotary Club, and the Bass Coast Shire Council. The online survey found a high level of support for construction of a sound shell at Inverloch, similar to one at Victory Park, Traralgon, however respondents were only asked to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ and were not asked to comment on the design.
At the time, Council said: “At this stage we are just seeking community support for the idea. Should it receive that support, it will then move onto the design stage, which will also go out for community consultation.”
The project has since secured funding from the Inverloch Lions Club, the Australian Lions Foundation, Bass Coast Shire Council and the Victorian Government, through its 2018 Pick My Project grants initiative.
Pick My Project Team Manager Michael Beattie told the Sentinel-Times the sound shell project “expects to be completed by the end of March/beginning of April 2020” but “as with other Pick My Project initiatives, there is flexibility to negotiate the end date until June 2020, if required.”
The ITA believes this means “there’s still time” to change the design, and they’re asking Council to “reconsider the building permit” that gives the green light for construction to commence.
Council’s Acting CEO Jodi Kennedy confirmed it’s the Inverloch Lions Club, not Council, that holds the building permit for the sound shell.
“The Lions Club has applied for and received all relevant approvals,” Ms Kennedy said.