Cuts ‘backward step’

The Community Sport and Recreation Facilities Fund will be cut from $20 million to $7 million.
The Community Sport and Recreation Facilities Fund will be cut from $20 million to $7 million.

THE State Government has been criticised after it was revealed the Community Sport and Recreation Facilities Fund would be cut from $20 million to $7 million during the 2016-17 financial year.

The fund, introduced in 1975, is used to help local governments and community groups develop sport and recreation infrastructure, with the goal of increasing participation in physical activities.

In Cockburn, the Government has provided more than $4 million for 16 projects including the recreation centre at Cockburn Central West, the Coogee Beach Surf Life Saving Club at Poore Grove and construction of the pavilion at Hammond Reserve.

Across the state in 2014-15, about $19.5 million was paid to 110 councils and community groups on projects including the redevelopment of Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre, redevelopment of Mills Park in Beckenham, and development of playing fields at Ray Finlayson Sporting complex in Kalgoorlie.

The WA Local Government Association has described the 65 per cent slash in funding as a backward step, with former president Troy Pickard saying it was a contradiction of the State�s promotion of sport in WA.

�These are the facilities at the heart of local sports and recreation,� he said.

�These are the places that bring communities together and promote a healthy lifestyle. They are a central part of the West Australian lifestyle that we treasure.�

Sport and Recreation Minister Mia Davies said the cuts were a response to the state�s financial position.

�The Government has invested heavily to rebuild and upgrade sporting facilities in almost every local government shire in WA,� she said. �There is still significant funding available for local governments and community groups to access each year.

�Other funding opportunities include Lotterywest, Royalties for Regions and the Federal Government�s National Stronger Regions Fund.�

Cockburn Mayor Logan Howlett said the cuts would have a big impact, especially on smaller councils.

�This is yet another example of cost shifting. We hope the State Government revisits providing this funding once the economy improves,� he said.