Arts cen­tre moth­balled

SEVEN COUN­CIL­LORS VOTE NOT TO PRO­CEED

North Coast Weekender - - News - Tyler Brown

THE pro­posed $100 mil­lion Joon­dalup per­form­ing arts cen­tre will not progress to the de­sign de­vel­op­ment phase.

Many coun­cil­lors at Tues­day night’s meet­ing said it was one of the big­gest de­ci­sions the cur­rent coun­cil had ever faced.

After more than an hour-and-ahalf of de­bate, seven coun­cil­lors voted against pro­ceed­ing the project to a de­sign and de­vel­op­ment phase, while six voted in favour.

Though many coun­cil­lors agreed the City of Joon­dalup would ben­e­fit from a per­form­ing arts fa­cil­ity, the ma­jor­ity be­lieved it would be “fis­cally ir­re­spon­si­ble” to pro­ceed with the ma­jor project com­mit­tee’s rec­om­men­da­tion.

Coun­cil­lor Russell Poli­wka, who pre­sented a 597-sig­na­ture pe­ti­tion against the pro­posed per­form­ing arts cen­tre, said he was dis­ap­pointed the project was “this far down the track” – it was first pro­posed in 1992 – and there was still no ex­ter­nal fund­ing.

“We are talk­ing about fund­ing 100 per cent and that doesn’t gel with me,” he said. “Joon­dalup ratepay­ers should not be car­ry­ing the burden for a re­gional fa­cil­ity.”

Also speak­ing against the rec­om­men­da­tion, Cr Nige Jones said he was con­cerned about the low num­ber of com­mu­nity con­sul­ta­tion sub­mis­sions re­ceived.

Over six weeks, the City re­ceived 1542 re­sponses, with 48 per cent in sup­port and 41.9 per cent op­posed. Of th­ese, 1289 were from City res­i­dents or ratepay­ers, with 40.4 per cent in sup­port and 49.4 per cent op­posed.

Mayor Troy Pickard urged the coun­cil to progress to the de­tailed de­sign stage at a cost of $1.7 mil­lion so it could get a more ac­cu­rate idea of costs, which would put the City in a bet­ter po­si­tion to lobby for State and Fed­eral fund­ing.

He said the project was es­ti­mated to cost rate­able prop­er­ties $55 per year for 40 years, which was “rea­son­able and re­flected other sub­si­dies made in the City”. Th­ese in­cluded $98 a year per prop­erty for hire fa­cil­i­ties, $99 for li­braries, $37 for events and $17 for in­fant health.

“If you choose not to pro­ceed, you are moth­balling the cen­tre,” he said.

“We have six strate­gies for­mally adopted by the coun­cil that are un­der­pinned by the per­form­ing arts cen­tre. Th­ese will need rad­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion and we will need to di­vert our en­ergy to an­other vi­sion.”

Cr Kerry Hol­ly­wood said the coun­cil needed “a very good rea­son to turn our backs” on the project.

She re­minded coun­cil­lors that the cost of the project had al­ready been fac­tored into its 20-Year Strate­gic Fi­nan­cial Plan and “would not have an ad­di­tional im­pact on rates”.

But fel­low ward Cr Tom McLean said that was a plan, not a bud­get.

“It is ratepay­ers’ money and we must do what the ratepay­ers need, not what we want,” he said.

Since 2009, the City has spent $2.4m on the project.

The Joon­dalup Per­form­ing Arts Cen­tre has stalled fol­low­ing a nar­row vote.

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