Hub funds flow
THE City of Greater Geelong council has tipped in the last tranche of funding as part of a plan to fully cover the cost of the long-awaited Northern Aquatic and Community Hub (NACH).
The city’s decision to put in an extra $21.84 million – the result of an urgent motion of business at Tuesday’s council meeting – follows Labor’s allocation of $8.5 million (of the $20 million requested) to the shovel-ready project in its 2021-22 State Budget.
First proposed in 2014, the hub has an estimated cost of $61.6 million, with the city having already committed $23 million in its latest draft budget.
The City of Greater Geelong has applied for $10 million from the federal government’s Building Better Regions Fund, but projects must be fully funded and ready for construction to be eligible.
The council says its extra commitment is contingent on the success of its request to reassign $8.26 million from the federal Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Fund (LRCIF).
Geelong mayor Stephanie Asher said the council’s decision had “the capacity to change lives and outcomes for the people of Geelong’s northern suburbs”.
“It’s also a commitment that befits our investment in the coming northern and western growth areas.
“We are at a make or break point for the project, and it’s time to get on with walking our talk.
“Of course we will continue to seek support and lobby hard for further funding from other levels of government, but we can’t drop our bundle now.”
The Waterworld and Centenary Hall redevelopment will include a 25-metre pool, hydrotherapy and learn-to-swim pool, gym and group exercise, multi-purpose community spaces, consulting suites for maternal child health and rehabilitation services.
Phase 2 of the LRCIF is yet to be approved by the department, but Victorian Liberal Senator Sarah Henderson said she was encouraged by the city’s submitted application, which would allow the assessment process to start.
“I am also strongly backing the council’s application for $10 million under the Morrison Government’s Building Better Regions Fund.”
Lara Labor MP John Eren said he was “more than happy” with the state’s contribution combined with its further investment in the northern suburbs.
“It is fantastic, so much is happening in the north,” he said.
“$33 million for Barwon Health North located next door to the NACH, $15.3 million has been announced for the last stage of construction at the Northern Bay campus, drug and alcohol rehabilitation services with 30 beds costing $30 million and social and public housing dedicated to the areas that need it most.
“I am very happy to be contributing towards this important council project.”