Camp Reserve redevelopment back on the agenda

A design drawing for the new pavilion.
A design drawing for the new pavilion.

There were unusually high attendance numbers at last Tuesday’s meeting of Mount Alexander Shire Council, with public question time extended to allow residents a chance to discuss the highly contentious Camp Reserve masterplan.
Local sporting representatives spoke in favour of the current plan with concerns about the facilities not being fit for standard and a lack of female change facilities causing incredible difficulties for female players, which impacts negatively on Australia’s second-oldest football/netball club, which is trying to encourage diversity in sport.
Captain of the Senior Women’s Cricket team Simone Frasier told the council that at present there are 30 women on the local team.
“The youngest is 11 and she is very passionate about her cricket. Our only options are to get dressed in the car or in a toilet cubicle, walking past urinals,” Simone said.
“We are an inclusive club, but the lack of facilities is creating a barrier for women in sport. It’s embarrassing.”
At Tuesday’s meeting John Carruthers spoke on behalf of Gold Camp is Castlemaine (a local group dedicated to preserving the history of the reserve and has offered an alternate proposal whereby the netball courts and pavilion remain in their existing locations) stating that if the council ignores the 51 per cent of survey respondents in opposition to the current masterplan those community members will loom large.
“There is a grave risk that the council will go down a costly path. One that costs ratepayers more money and causes further delays in facilities that the sports team so desperately needs. The plan that doubles down on the current master plan will solve one problem but will make in another. A path that will give footballers and netballers facilities they so richly deserve, but will bury a fair chunk of ground zero of the gold rush heritage under concrete.”
Councillor Gary McClure moved the motion to commence the planning permit application stating that he was shocked to learn that this has been going on for three decades.
“At the moment we have an adopted masterplan, we have a position to move forward and apply for a planning permit with the schematic drawings that we have. We are moving forward on this proposal not backward.
“Council and staff did listen to the 386 comments, but the council has to move forward for the sake of the people that sat in this room tonight and said, ‘we’ve got disgusting facilities’,” Cr McClure said.
“We’ve got to do something about it and going back to square one and starting again is not the way to go about it.
“There’s still a lot of work to do, particularly in regards to heritage issues, but this will all be dealt with under the planning permit process.”
The vote from councillors to proceed with the approved designs and commence the planning process was unanimous.
John Carruthers from Gold Camp is Castlemaine contacted the Mail regarding the heart-rending stories about young sportspeople enduring sub-standard facilities.
“We agree with them,” John said.
“What we don’t agree with was the attempt by several councillors, to lay at the doorstep of objectors to the current plan, all responsibility for any delay going forward.
“That is a deflection of responsibility. It belongs elsewhere. The council has had a decade and a half at least to sort out a plan that ticks all the boxes, gets reasonable consensus, and gives sports the salvation they deserve. Instead over that period, it’s done relatively little by way of sustained effort, and more recently decided that ticking a couple of boxes is enough,” he said.

Jade Jungwirth
Jade is the former Editor of the Tarrangower Times and has lived in the region for over 16 years.