City calls on $18m funding from federal government
THE City of Greater Geelong has formally requested $18 million in federal funding for the Northern Aquatic and Community Hub project in what has been described as a “significant milestone”.
During last week’s meeting councillors agreed the project had taken “a clear direction” after struggling to attract funding in the past.
Councillors unanimously voted in favour of applying for $10 million under the Building Better Regions Fund, as well as requesting that the federal government assign $8.26 million to the hub which was previously earmarked for Geelong under the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Fund (LRCIF).
The project has attracted the three tiers of government with Senator Sarah Henderson championing the project.
“I am delighted that the City of Greater Geelong has backed my proposal to allocate $8.26 million in federal LRCIF funding to the Northern Aquatic and Community Hub (NACH),” Ms Henderson said.
“The $60 million NACH will combat disadvantages and provide vital facilities for the people of Geelong’s north.
“Co-located with a library and a medical facility, the NACH will present a unique opportunity to deliver community health and economic benefits to a rapidly growing and increasingly diverse community.”
Ms Henderson had further shown her support for council’s application for an additional $10 million of commonwealth funding, stating the project is “a top priority”.
Councillor Bruce Harwood said it was good to see the project was gaining “traction” after years of seeing no “hard cash” eventuate.
“In 2017 council put this high on the agenda to get completed for the Northern suburbs who have been more than hard done by over the years for infrastructure,” Cr Harwood said.
“We are now in a better position and we need to put the pressure on and keep it on.
“There is no more excuses from anybody, we are out of excuses – it is time to get it done.”
The world-class facility is anticipated to deliver up to $111 million in preventative health benefits in the first decade with use of a 25-metre pool, hydrotherapy and learn-to-swim pool, gym and group exercise, multi-purpose community spaces, consulting suites for maternal health and rehabilitation services.
Despite making groundbreaking advances including getting the project to a “shovel ready” status, councillor Anthony Aitken warned “we are not over the line yet”.
“We need to continue our lobbying and advocacy work and to support both Sarah Henderson to get the additional $10 million and our state Labor members led by John Eren,” he said.
“The Corio and Norlane areas have been seen as a part of Geelong in which you drive through or don’t live in and what this facility is saying is ‘why can’t we have the best preventative health facilities and why can’t we have the best community multi-purpose event facilities in our north’.”
The project is anticipated to inject $67 million into the local economy and provide more than 100 jobs during construction.