After more than a decade of campaigning, the sod has officially been turned for Dragon Boat ACT’s new home on Lake Burley Griffin.
A crowd of members gathered at Grevillea Park on Monday (3 April) for the ceremony, which included a symbolic dragon boat race.
Sports Minister Yvette Berry acknowledged the hard work of Dragon Boat ACT for finally reaching this day.
“Their advocacy over many, many, many years is what has gotten us to this point,” she said.
“I know this has been a long campaign and a long time coming, so this is a really important milestone.”
The facility was designed by Cox Architects, with local construction company Projex awarded the project, which will include boat storage, training and timekeeping rooms, office space and meeting rooms, new amenities and change rooms, and a marshalling area.
Construction had originally been announced to begin in 2022, but Ms Berry said there had been some delays to the project, including the lingering impacts of COVID on the industry.
“We went out for tender for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander operated enterprise, which is Projex, and we also had to negotiate with the National Capital Authority and make sure it fits in with their planning requirements, so that does take a little bit of extra time,” she said.
“Projex has done some work for us previously on Housing [ACT] properties and schools, so we know they’ve got a good record, so we’re pleased we’ve been able to offer this to them.”
Dragon Boat ACT president Donald Jenkin was particularly excited that the sport would finally have a permanent place to call home.
“We have been now, for decades, in portacabins and the like, so this is an exciting thing for us,” he said.
“We’ve been in temporary facilities both here at Grevillea Park and at Lotus Bay for several decades, and now we’ve got a permanent site for all our events.”
Mr Jenkin pointed out two of the Cox Architects designers are boaters themselves, which he thought was a huge plus in the design phase.
This includes a timing portal at the top of the building for events.
“There’s an electronic camera that sits at the top of it and looks down at the boats [crossing the finish line], so you can get really accurate measurements rather than people working with stopwatches on the ground,” Mr Jenkin said.
Grevillea Park was ultimately chosen for its conditions on the lake, ease of access and parking facilities.
The new facility will support Dragon Boat ACT’s 11 clubs and around 650 members, as well as its sponsored program for deaf paddling with DeafACT and Dragons Abreast, a team for people recovering from breast cancer.
It’s expected the building will be ready for use by the end of 2023.
Mr Jenkin hoped this would also assist the organisation reach its goal of 1000 members.
“If you haven’t started dragon boating, have a look at our website and have a look at ‘Dragon Pass’, where you get to try out all the different teams,” he encouraged.
Construction is due to be completed by the end of 2023.