Cheque won’t bounce

Canning Times - - FRONT PAGE - Ben Smith

WILLETTON Bas­ket­ball Sta­dium’s long-awaited ex­pan­sion is a step closer to the con­struc­tion phase af­ter the City of Can­ning ap­proved a $2.2 mil­lion con­struc­tion work­ing loan for the Willetton Bas­ket­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (WBA).

The loan will en­sure the bas­ket­ball as­so­ci­a­tion can pay its bills and con­tinue to trade with­out the risk of in­sol­vency dur­ing con­struc­tion.

Coun­cil ap­proved the loan and re­it­er­ated its com­mit­ment to the project at a spe­cial meet­ing on Tues­day.

WBA had pre­vi­ously se­cured $5.5 mil­lion in Fed­eral fund­ing, $1.5m from the State Gov­ern­ment and $2.2m from the City of Can­ning towards the cost of their $11m sta­dium ex­pan­sion.

The City will pro­vide a short-term loan to cover the gaps be­tween when the WBA has to pay for works, and when it re­ceives its gov­ern­ment grants.

The grant monies are then used to re­pay the short-term loan, and any­thing ow­ing un­der the short-term loan ar­range­ment af­ter all grant monies are paid will be rolled over into a long-term loan.

Any loan fund­ing pro­vided by the City to WBA will be at net nil cost to the City, as WBA will be pay­ing all costs as­so­ci­ated with es­tab­lish­ing the loan.

A coun­cil re­port stated the City would risk en­tic­ing WBA into a po­si­tion of in­sol­vency if it al­lowed them to com­mence the project with­out any loan fa­cil­ity or ad­di­tional third party fund­ing in place.

Coun­cil­lor Lind­say Hol­land sup­ported the de­ci­sion and said the sta­dium would bring “thou­sands upon thou­sands upon thou­sands” of peo­ple into the area.

He was backed by Cr Ben Kunze, who said he was glad the long-awaited ex­pan­sion was fi­nally go­ing ahead.

Cr Jesse Ja­cobs said the up­grade was over­due and he had high con­fi­dence in the club and the or­gan­i­sa­tion to de­liver a fit­ting ad­di­tion to the City.

The loan was ap­proved nine votes to two, with coun­cil­lors Gra­ham Barry and Tim Porter vot­ing against it.

Coun­cil also pledged al­most three-quar­ters of a mil­lion dol­lars to un­der­take ad­di­tional pub­lic works in con­junc­tion with the pro­posed sta­dium ex­pan­sion.

They al­lo­cated an ad­di­tional $733,000 for an­cil­lary works next door at Bur­ren­dah Park, in­clud­ing mod­i­fi­ca­tions to fire service, drainage and park­ing re­quire­ments.

One of the re­quire­ments, a fire ve­hi­cle ac­cess way, will be con­structed on one of Willetton Bowl­ing Club’s greens.

In re­turn, the bowls club has ac­cepted the coun­cil’s of­fer of a $260,000 grant and a loan of up to $260,000 to con­vert the re­main­ing greens into a syn­thetic sur­face green. The sta­dium ex­pan­sion will pro­vide four new in­door bas­ket­ball and multi-sport courts, seat­ing for spec­ta­tors and the re­fur­bish­ment of the ex­ist­ing courts and hall.

The project will also in­clude plans for three meet­ing rooms, a func­tion room, an ex­panded ad­min­is­tra­tion area and a new kiosk and fore­court area.

The sta­dium ex­pan­sion is set to be part of the City’s Willetton Precinct Mas­ter Plan and con­struc­tion is ex­pected to start be­fore the end of the year. It will be com­pleted be­fore March 2020.

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