How your councils are faring

Football at St Ives Showground
Football at St Ives Showground

Hornsby’ s cash headache impacting on future sports ground planning

The redrawing of Hornsby’s southern boundary, removing a hefty $10m from Council coffers, has placed its budget in deficit and they’re currently in limbo with its big projects till things get resolved.

“It’s going to be very difficult to find the money for future capital works projects, including sportsgrounds should the boundary not be readjusted to where it was previously,” said a Hornsby spokesperson.

Hornsby agrees it has a shortage of playing fields. “That’s why we purchased the Westleigh site, with the plan of creating a range of new sporting facilities that will service not only direct Hornsby residents but doubtless be used by the sporting communities of the North Shore, Epping and Ryde communities. New sporting facilities are also planned for the Hornsby Quarry site once it is rehabilitated. These are two of the projects that are most at risk because of our weakened financial position.”

Council is also taking other steps to address the issue. It’s also due to release a draft Sportsground Strategy that will go further than the NSROC study and make a number of recommends on how Council can ensure there are sufficient areas to play sport into the future.

Existing fields are tired with overuse in some places. “Currently more than 60 percent of Hornsby’s grounds are being used at or over their capacity, and it’s getting worse as the population increases and sport participation rates climb. Some grounds like John Purchase Oval at Cherrybrook become unplayable midway through the season as a result of excessive use.”

But they are “increasing sportsground capacity by improving drainage, irrigation and the turf species used at grounds. Improvements to floodlights also mean the wear from use can be spread more evenly across the whole field and there are investigations into synthetic fields.

“However, there is a very finite limit to the effect of such measures. The real solution will be the development of new grounds at Westleigh and the rehabilitated Hornsby Quarry.”

Hornsby Matt Kean adds that “I’ve fought hard to ensure we have plenty of recreational space and was proud in 2016 to have secured 34 hectares in Westleigh for Hornsby Council to turn into sporting grounds, as well as the 40 hectare Hornsby Quarry project I helped see given back to Hornsby Council to turn into parklands and for multiple sports uses.”

He has also awarded grants for upgrading Hills District Netball 17 netball courts at Pennant Hills Netball Centre, for improving the tartan long jump runway at Foxglove Oval to Northern Districts Little Athletics Centre, and for building a new synthetic pitch for Berowra Cricket Club.

Ku-ring-gai sports fields under pressure

The challenge Ku-ring-gai faces is that more land for sports fields is limited and expensive to buy, so Ku-ring-gai Council has its sights set on partnerships with Department of Education and the Greater Sydney Commision, as well as optimising existing facilities with synthetic fields and floodlighting.  

“Most floodlit sports grounds are at capacity during the winter season,” said a spokeswoman. “Certain sports such as netball are under-resourced for floodlit facilities, forcing a cap on enrolments.”

She said that soccer has the highest participation numbers and benefits most from the synthetic fields. Other sports such as AFL, netball, basketball and athletics have all expressed the need for more facilities, which it’s working hard to address.

“In the last five years Ku-ring-gai has been proactive in creating new sporting facilities – for example the North Turramurra Recreation Area introduced two full size floodlit turf fields, one full size floodlit synthetic field and three cricket nets. Koola Park Killara was formerly three full sized non-floodlit turf fields, which now has a fourth field and floodlighting for all fields. The Council has also installed a synthetic field at Charles Bean, Lindfield and is working on converting two further fields to synthetic at Norman Griffiths Oval, West Pymble and Warrimoo Oval, St Ives.”

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