Recreation reserves are what we want

In my latest media release, I have called for more development of Bendigo’s neighbourhood recreation reserves, especially as Covid-19 restrictions limit exercise options. Council does a lot in this space, but more can be done – for example, the Ironbark Gully Trail should be expedited.

I’ve been holding a small online community survey in the last 4 weeks, and the results are clear. The top priority in people’s neighbourhoods is recreation reserves. Over 80% of people said that recreation reserves were a priority for their neighbourhood. I think this is an excellent opportunity for council to work with local residents on ways to improve their local reserves, because locals often have excellent ideas that council could adopt.

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Have a look at the results on the survey here, and take the survey here.

One recent example of a good recreation reserve project is at the Long Gully Recreation Reserve. Council workers did a great job consulting with local residents on what would work to improve exercise and fitness. The result was a footpath and exercise station around the oval – the uptick in usage is huge.

New footpath at Long Gully Rec Reserve

Recreation reserves will be used more and more over the time that Covid-19 is with us. In the last stage 3 lockdown in Bendigo, recreation reserves were used more often. This increases wear and tear, but also increases a positive sense of ownership amongst residents. Hence, councils can spend more money making these places more user-friendly and beautiful, safe in the knowledge that this is what residents want. They are an example of “palaces for the people” – free and low-cost places that everyone can gather in.

However, there are reserves where council could pick up the pace. One example is the Ironbark Gully Trail (pictured above on a National Tree Day event). A concept plan is already developed and council has even put the money aside, but not much is happening. I asked Marie Bonne, Chair of the Ironbark Gully Friends, about this. This was her view:

“A new trail along Ironbark Gully would provide much needed recreational space for families, especially as more people get out into their neighbourhood for exercise due to Covid-19 restrictions. We have the plan, and the council has allocated funding. This important project is long overdue.” Let’s get onto it, council.

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(Photo credits: 1. Ironbark Gully Friends; 2. Dave Fagg)