MBC points to funding precedents

THE president of the Melville Bowling Club says a councillor’s controversial request for Melville to fully fund a $20 million dollar clubhouse has precedents elsewhere the city.  

Although Cr Clive Ross’s pitch for a fully council funded clubhouse was watered down to a review of funding options at last week’s council meeting, MBC president Tim Smith pointed to $11 million the council was committing to redeveloping Shirley Strickland Reserve. 

Mr Smith said that development only supported three sporting codes and the council would be responsible for all ongoing maintenance, while the bowling club’s proposal would be self-supporting, making it a good deal for ratepayers.

The proposed clubhouse would  have commercial facilities such as a Dome cafe and there are ongoing talks to have Bowls WA move its headquarters there. 

“Everyone just sees us as a bowling club; this isn’t about bowling,” Mr Smith said, adding they would identify other community groups who could use the centre to help cater to community needs. 

The bowling club would also benefit by expanding its ties to players from Southeast Asia; Melville hosted a Singaporean club in 2020 and were supposed to reciprocate with a visit before Covid interfered. 

They were also hoping to introduce a new generation to the game by lobbying the education department to include bowls in after school activities,  Mr Smith said.

Three-tiered

Cr Ross initially flagged a three-tiered funding model in December last year, with the council and federal governments contributing $5m each and the state $10m. 

But at the council’s march meeting he withdrew that to call for the council to fund the project entirely. In a tight vote 8/5 an amendment by councillor Matthew Woodall instead called to investigate the funding. 

Mr Smith said while he would be thrilled for the council to fully fund the project they were still rescheduling meetings with federal Tangey MP Ben Morton and State MLA Lisa O’Malley to lobby for funding. 

He said the 65-year-old club was built by founding members via a self-supporting loan from the council, meaning it ultimately had no impact on ratepayer funds.

“We built the building 65 years ago, we paid for all the ongoing maintenance and repaid all the loans, now it’s your turn to build a building for the community.

“It is about time a big rich council like the City of Melville with major unallocated reserves should look to support this project.”

The MCB has about 600 members, with 170 active bowlers and 450 social members.

by ALEXANDRA ROBERTSON 

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