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Canberra’s disappearing sporting facilities

By Tim Gavel 14 November 2018 49
City Bowling Club under redevelopment. Photo: Tim Gavel

City Bowling Club, Braddon. Photo: Tim Gavel.

Have you noticed? A number of Canberra’s sporting facilities are slowly disappearing.

It hasn’t happened overnight but with the development juggernaut that is currently underway across the city, sports facilities appear to be one of the casualties.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the lack of consideration being given to sporting facilities in the construction boom, especially around the inner suburbs.

I received many responses from people concerned that we were running out of facilities, such as soccer fields and basketball courts, while at the same time demand was increasing with a growing population.

Bowling clubs have been the target for developers over the years with the likes of Canberra South and the Deakin greens making way for housing.

The City Bowling Club at Braddon is the latest to be taken over, and while it awaits redevelopment, it is looking severely neglected.

While in one sense it is understandable with some licensed clubs struggling for patronage, on the other hand, the question has to be asked as to whether or not we are doing enough to keep them going.

One explanation is that with the demographics of the inner suburbs changing, we are going to see more medium density housing at the expense of some facilities.

But going against this theory is the Turner Bowls Club, which has been revitalised and is thriving.

The Turner Police Youth Club is another awaiting redevelopment and faces the prospect of being knocked down and turned into apartments.

This is just a microcosm of what is happening elsewhere across Canberra.

There is a sense that as the city rapidly changes face we are losing some of the more established features of our suburbs such as the local bowling club. I wonder how those who patronised these clubs are feeling about the change.


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Canberra’s disappearing sporting facilities
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JorgeMoita 2:14 pm 19 Nov 18

Not only the sports facilities, with the uncrotolled overpopulation Canberra as it is has its days numbered unfortunatelly, there is no infrastructure to support all this growth and we don’t need more people. When I bought my house long ago I thought I had found the perfect city to live, bad politicians and greedy developers destroyed my dream, looking for a small town to move.

ChrisinTurner 7:15 pm 15 Nov 18

The closing off and now the selling off of inner North green areas cannot be justified considering the massive increase in population density being planned by the developers. Where I live the only recreation green area is Glebe Park.

Simon Mitchell 9:31 am 15 Nov 18

It’s not a sporting facility, but it’s next to the former Watson High school oval - very worried that Canberra City Band and Canberra Brass will lose their band room due to development

Anthony Olivera 6:08 am 15 Nov 18

Bring back Mpowerdome 😭

Donald Martin 8:04 pm 14 Nov 18

Lots of sports ovals very poor condition

Woden Valley Community Council 6:08 pm 14 Nov 18

Woden has lost its basketball stadium, tennis courts, bowling greens and the we are at risk of losing the ice skating rink and pool too. We have also lost our CIT and the whole central core is zoned for 16 to 28 storey buildings. There isn’t a balance with open green spaces or community/recreational facilities. We have the Phillip oval and the athletics track however they are locked and not available to the community.

The RiotACT 5:17 pm 14 Nov 18

We love a vigorous debate here at RiotACT, but as a courtesy, please identify yourself if you are an official representative of the organisations mentioned here.

    Pen Gwyn 5:23 pm 14 Nov 18

    Gwyn Rees Chief Executive of ClubsACT.

    Pen Gwyn 5:23 pm 14 Nov 18

    Tim Benson Can you please verify my identity :)

    Kim Fischer 6:02 pm 14 Nov 18

    Pen Gwyn Hi Gwyn - do you know of any sporting clubs who would want an upgraded Florey oval? This is getting some momentum in the Florey community. The Opposition were here the other day to have a look at it and I understand many people raised it with them.

    Tim Benson 6:19 pm 14 Nov 18

    Pen Gwyn Yes Gwyn is who he says he is! Hi Pen Gwyn!

    Pen Gwyn 10:00 pm 14 Nov 18

    Kim Fischer no club will want an extra oval. The rules are about to change around claiming contributions against infrastructure and so I don't imagine this will in any way incentivise clubs to take on recreational assets.

Pen Gwyn 4:04 pm 14 Nov 18

Rebecca Vassarotti What's your view of this issue?

Jim9 3:48 pm 14 Nov 18

No issue with this being raised as an issue – as it clearly could be done better and I think we need a careful balance achieved in this space. I for one would like to see more Government provided facilities, rather than a reliance on private provision of something that is a public good – or indeed other indirect measures, such as poker machine revenue delivered and funded facilities (in the case of club provided facilities). The Government could easily do better in this space.

Kim Fischer 1:59 pm 14 Nov 18

Florey Primary School doesn't have a decent oval next to it. #Shame

1967 1:27 pm 14 Nov 18

It’s a worrying trend.
Golf courses are going the same way. The people who run Gold Creek and Capital think they’d be better off developing the site.
Bowling clubs are getting bought out for their land and Pokies licences.
And yes, indoor stadiums, squash courts and tennis courts are all disappearing as well.
The Government needs to really stop and think this through.
Surely a little support for these facilities wouldn’t go astray.
In the end, there’ll be nowhere left to play any sports, and we’ll all be worse off.
If an area is zoned for recreational use then it should stay that way. Saying that we, as a society don’t get out and play so much is an indication of a much bigger problem.

As poor old Norm used to say, “Life – Be in it!”

    Jim9 9:08 am 15 Nov 18

    I don’t think Gold Creek or Capital Golf Course are really good examples though. Both were clearly bought as ‘land banking’ by developers, and only have been kept as golf courses in the meantime because they have been required to. The intentions for both those have always been pretty clear – I’m surprised its taken this long with Gold Creek, and capital was only purchased a handful of years ago.

    chewy14 6:47 pm 15 Nov 18

    Jim,
    The fact that they were bought by developers is the perfect example because the fact that they’re buying them means they’re relatively confident on being able to change their landuse to support redevelopment into residential housing.

    If we had a system that prioritised community facility land for community facilities, no developer would go near the land at all.

bj_ACT 12:14 pm 14 Nov 18

I highlighted some things regarding the Woden and Tuggeranong community facility losses in another Riotact article about new Woden development.

The Southside has seen a number of indoor and outdoor sporting facilities disappear over the last 15 years.

When we used to live in Kambah my son and his mates used to walk down to a school basketball court and play every afternoon. Then the government closed the school and the courts and ovals that went with it. My son and his mates went to the next nearest school, before the ACT government closed that too.

Both school sites now squeeze in Aged accommodation (which is great for the elderly) but the youth of Tuggeranong have had many of their community facilities taken away. No wonder the kids now hang around the shopping centre instead of using the long gone, public basketball and tennis courts or the cricket nets.

Robbie Munday 11:53 am 14 Nov 18

Bowling clubs don't count. They're not sports venues, they're drinking venues.

Brian Ashcroft 10:38 am 14 Nov 18

water used to be a negligible portion (cost) of the sportsgrounds maintenance budget but with water at over $5.00/Kl-it is now more than half the budget-similar pressure on bowls clubs and golf courses-no longer affordable

    Pen Gwyn 11:34 am 14 Nov 18

    This is a few years old but this is what usage charges look like by various jurisdictions - the water consumption is what an oval might use in a year.

Cary Elliot Johnson 9:31 am 14 Nov 18

Not that it is a reason to ditch playing fields for ugly apartments, but dont the stats say that Australians/Canberrans are participating in sport a great deal less than 30-40 years ago anyway?

    Elsa Gaskell 10:10 am 14 Nov 18

    According to the most recent ABS figures, 73% of Canberrans participate in sports and physical recreations, which is the highest statistics in the country

Pen Gwyn 8:24 am 14 Nov 18

Hi Tim. Would be great to chat to you about this space. Here are a few elements to consider in clubs maintaining these assets. First, the ACT has among the highest water charges in the country, the cost of irrigating an oval in the ACT is double what it would be if was located in Sydney. Second, rates are also impacting clubs with some experiencing 300% increases since the new rates regimes introduction. Third, the ACT Government is about pass legislation that will impact a clubs capacity to claim this infrastructure as a community contribution. Fourth, the ACT Government will take more money from clubs through two new taxes at 1 July 2019 which collectively will see another $2 million taken from clubs. And, clubs which have tried to move forward with developments which reinvigorate their 40, 50 or 60 year old club houses and maintain their recreational assets are locked in a bureaucratic processes that seem to go nowhere fast. Bottom line, is there is very little incentive for clubs to maintain these assets and the Government wants to tax clubs more on the back of reducing gaming revenue (33% down since 2006). This is also while they are about to undertake the largest reduction of machines in ACT history.

Stan Vizovitis 8:14 am 14 Nov 18

No you cant have carparks. Ovals . Any type of open areas cause that's where the 26 storey apartment blocks go

Charlotte Harper 8:03 am 14 Nov 18

Narrabundah College has lost its sports ground to new classrooms.

Vanessa Jones 8:01 am 14 Nov 18

Kippax Oval behind Woolies???

Wendy Apostoloff 8:01 am 14 Nov 18

Thank Barr and the ACT people who voted him and his greedy cohorts into power ......

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