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.
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.
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)