Busselton residents have their say on the proposed cultural hub

Opinion: Busselton council disconnected to community

I struggle to fathom the absolute arrogance of this Council.

History aside and only dealing with NOW, it is obvious there is discontent about the Council borrowing to fund a vastly increased cost to BEACH.

I am reading Councillors saying that majority of ratepayers approve; How do they know?

There has not been a survey or meeting to discuss this. Now they are hiding behind their destined-to-fail plea to hold a meeting and their catch cry 'you had your chance years ago'

The only person in our street that supports this loan is not surprisingly Cr Ross Paine, yet he has said nothing about the constantly flooded Broadwater Blvd or the fire hazard at the end of his own street.

Stop being so bloody-minded about this and suspend it until you can be certain. It is potentially a good project, but not right now - and by the way, I think they may have an inflated view of the actual benefit this project will provide. Please note naysayers I didn't say 'no benefit'

Laurie Brooker, Broadwater

Don't let tourism overtake our city

To the people who are objecting to the proposed arts centre, I would like to make the following points: We came to Busselton from Sydney more than 50 years ago, and stayed because we found the cultural values in the area not only surprising but of such quality - in arts and entertainment.

The Claude Hotchkin art collection which was kept at the time in the council offices next to Mitchell Park. A very strong Art Society, Weld Theatre, and the awarded Busselton Brass Band. Successful efforts back then particularly due to the Cullen family, brought the WA Symphony Orchestra to Busselton - this would predate even the Perth Festival and Fringe.The artists, musicians and performers of considerable stature who chose to live, teach or work here.

Cultural events have always been well supported, despite a sad lack of venues. I find it cringe worthy that Busselton City still lacks facilities commensurate with its standing in the region. Tourism is one of our industries, but it should never override the quality of life for the people who live here. It's the thing that tourists see and value, that they experience and enjoy.

There are examples all over the world where tourism has annihilated the culture of the place, and made places like Byron Bay and Bali so vulnerable to events such as COVID-19, airline problems, and fuel costs. Let's not see that happen here.

Lynne Sheen, Dunsborough

Performing Arts and Conference Center 

The City of Busselton councilors have already voted 8 to 1 in favour of pursuing the development known as BEACH.

They claim that they are listening to the wants of the community through consultation over 10 years in time. The only survey we can find with published results has been a 9% public response, hardly a majority.

Asking the community what they would like or want is not the same as including would they like to pay $30.3 million, borrow $17 million, ongoing increases in rates and an estimated $1million a year running cost debt which will also add to rate increases.

If anyone was asked if they would like a Ferrari and a double story house in Geographe Bay Road the response would be yes but when told the amount they will have to pay, the answer would be no as they cannot afford it!

The Auditor General has commented in the negative regarding the City of Busselton's financial report for 2018/19, "indicates significant adverse trends in the financial position of the City and the "annual financial report for the last 3 years below Dept of Local Governments standard." What will the 2019/20 report be like?

The City is required to utilize the Federal funding of $10.35m by 2022 otherwise the money will be lost because an extension of time from the Federal Government is not possible. It appears the City has another reason for pursuing the BEACH project. Regarding the proposed new construction of the Hilton Hotel, the following is a quote from the COB Business Case document. "Key to the success of securing this investment was the proposed BEACH with the performing arts and business conventions appealing to the commercial success of the hotel development."

The City of Busselton is organizing a Sundowner by invitation only, with community members who have shown an interest in the BEACH project over the last 10 years, with a survey to be conducted with those people. What is the cost of this event and will the results of that SURVEY be meaningful seeing that all who attend will of course want the project to proceed?

COB Business case includes competing with existing business i.e.

  • Conversion of the existing Art Geo Gallery into a commercial bar for revenue income.

The Vasse Hotel and Darlene's have both closed down. There are currently existing open bars within walking distance to cater for attendees.

  • Conference rooms.

There are already local conference venues within the City. The Bayview Resort also intends building a 350-seat conference centre.

There will be less business conferences happening as post Covid19 on-line meetings will continue thus reducing the need for the hiring of venues.

We believe the City of Busselton should hold a formal survey of all the rate payers who are responsible for paying the debt, not the general community. This will truthfully reflect their wishes and not what councilors alone finally decide. There is no evidence that the majority (being over 50%) of the community or the ratepayers want this project to go ahead in its current form increasing from $21m to $30.3m. This has raised community concerns, certainly more than a few as stated by two COB councilors.

Norma and Keith Sims, Busselton