Tag Archives: Auditor General

ACTION AT LAST – OPENING UP THE CAULFIELD RACECOURSE

Four years on from the Auditor General’s report we finally see some real action on the opening up of the Caulfield Racecourse.

Within 5 years,  training facilities (tracks and stabling), located on the Reserve’s Crown Land, will be removed and the huge centre of the reserve opened up for public recreation and park usage.

As always information is scant and there are loads of major questions re what this actually means for public usage (staged implementation, development and funding of facilities) vs. those areas of Reserve to be leased for 65 years ( leasing arrangements ie areas, lease fees, terms and conditions).

A huge break, though how huge remains to be seen.  Unfortunately there are many public $’s being directed to Racing, rather than public usage, and another 65 years (up from 21 years) before any “next” break through.

MEDIA RELEASE  

Monday, 22 October 2018

INVESTING IN WORLD-CLASS RACING FACILITIES

The Andrews Labor Government is building new infrastructure and creating hundreds of new jobs at the Cranbourne Training Complex and Pakenham Racing Clubs as part of a major boost for racing in Victoria.

Minister for Racing Martin Pakula today announced a $17.5 million investment to create new facilities at both the Cranbourne Training Complex and Pakenham Racing Club as part of a $40.1 million joint funding package.

Thoroughbred training at the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve will be relocated over the next five years, to open up the reserve for greater public access and recreational use.

The Labor Government will invest more than $6 million at the Cranbourne Training Complex for the construction of additional stabling, an inside grass track, an equine pool and tunnel upgrades to accommodate additional horses.

More than $8 million will also go to the Pakenham Racing club for new stabling, new uphill grass and synthetic tracks and an additional equine pool. The project will accommodate an additional 600 horse boxes and create up to 200 new jobs during construction, with a total economic impact estimated to be more than $250 million.

Racing Victoria and the Melbourne Racing Club will contribute $22.6 million towards the project. Works at both facilities will begin immediately, to help relocations which may begin from mid-2020. Trainers will have up to five years to relocate from their existing facilities at Caulfield Racecourse Reserve.

The Government has approved a long-term lease between Caulfield Racecourse Reserve Trust and the Melbourne Racing Club to increase recreational opportunities and secure horse racing at the reserve for another 65 years.

As part of this, the Government will provide an additional $1 million to support the Trust to develop a long-term land use plan for the site, to open up the space and balance the needs of residents, racing stakeholders and community groups.

The Trust will develop a three year corporate plan that will set out the strategic direction and management of the reserve in close consultation with the local community.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Racing Martin Pakula

“We’re investing in world-class facilities for the future at the Cranbourne Training Complex and Pakenham Racing Club to ensure that Victoria remains the premier racing state.”

“These new facilities will create hundreds of new jobs, provide a major economic boost for the racing industry and help ensure thoroughbred racing in Victoria keeps pace with international standards.”  

Quote attributable to Minister for Environment Lily D’Ambrosio

“Through our legislation and the new long-term lease, we’re delivering on our commitment to establish a strong future for a more accessible Caulfield Racecourse Reserve.”

 Quote attributable to Member for Cranbourne Jude Perera

“Thoroughbred racing is a vital part of our community and this major investment will provide local jobs and ensure these facilities remain world class for years to come.”

 

 

 

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MEET THE NEW TRUSTEES OF THE CAULFIELD RACECOURSE RESERVE

This posting serves as a reminder to those who were notified of the below Information Session and to extend the invitation to attend to others interested redressing Glen Eira and Stonnington’s chronic shortage of parkland and sporting facilities.

 

 BACKGROUND

As per the 2014 Auditor General’s Report, due to poor management of Reserve (the former Trust) and lack of oversight (by successive State Governments) has enabled its racing purpose to dominate the Reserve’s 54 hectares to the detriment of its public park and recreation purposes.

Current usage arrangements, have not changed from those outlined in the 2014 Report* and while the wheels of Government have moved slowly they have moved.  In September 2017, on the recommendation of a bipartisan working group legislation was introduced to

  • abolish the previous trust ( a Restrictive Trust) and establish a new trust framework, and
  • establish a transparent and modern governance model for the Reserve management.

 While it’s still “early days”,  the Information Session is the first step in a long process that gives the community an unprecedented opportunity for input into ensuring future Reserve usage recognizes and serves the needs of the community.

 INVITATION

The newly appointed (1st August, 2018) Trustees of the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve have committed to holding three to four community information sessions a year plus an annual public meeting to engage and be transparent with the community about the management of the reserve.

Below is an invitation to the first community information session to be held on 4 October 2018 at the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve.

The meeting will discuss the priorities the Trust has set for the next twelve months; including appointing a Chief Executive Officer and developing a land management plan, so come along meet the new trustees and ask questions.

Register your attendance via the link at the bottom of the above invitation and please circulate amongst your community.

Please note:   An alternate registration link is   Community Information Session: Caulfield Racecourse Reserve.

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Footnote:

 As per the 2014 AG’s report (which remains unchanged) usage of the Reserve’s 54 ha (valued in 2014 as $2bn) is

  • 11 hectares (20%) is under lease for racing purposes.  The Annual rental of $170K is generally returned to the MRC for racing related projects.
  • 37 hectares (69%) is used for racing purposes without any clear legal entitlement or payment arrangement, and
  • only 6 hectares (11%) is available as open space for the potential use of the community. That 6 ha comprises facilities that do not meet the needs of community, are not easy to physically access and are subject to restricted usage times.  No similar accessibility issues and time restrictions are applicable to racing usage.

CAULFIELD RACECOURSE REQUIEM

The Victorian Parliament is currently debating the “Caulfield Racecourse Reserve Bill”  that arises from the scathing 2014 Auditor General’s Report into the “Management and Oversight of the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve”.    It’s taken 3 years to get to this point and it’s our assessment that the Bill misses the point.

Since the Auditor General’s Report much has be promised, yet it is hard to relate those promises with the content of this Bill.  Rather than addressing the inequity between the Reserve’s three separate yet equal purposes of “racecourse public recreation ground and public park” by aligning Racecourse and Community usages with those purposes, we argue that the Bills provisions favour racing rather than public interests and fall short of  addressing the issues raised in the Auditor General’s Report.   For example,

  • the purposes have been redefined to align more closely with existing inequitable uses and the Minister is given the authority to assign/vary the weightings assigned to the purposes.
  • Ministerial appointment of Trustees, without adequately defining selection criteria.  Appointment is for a period of 3 years with re-appointment for an indefinite number of terms is permitted.
  • Ministerial determination of lease periods of up to 65 years.  This is contrary to past practices and inconsistent with commercial practices and the Reserve’s defined purposes
  • Inadequate management and financial reporting requirements (both Parliamentary and Public) which are not in line with contemporary practices.  Likewise with Conflict of Interest provisions.
  • Provides for a 20 year Strategic Land Management Plan that lacks performance reporting requirements and can be amended without public scrutiny.
  • Ministerial determination of allowed activities – “detrimental” is a key determinant, however, detrimental is not defined.

The inadequacies of the Bill, combined with the Government’s  planned dramatic increases in commercial, residential and educational activities in an area widely known to be lacking in parkland and sporting facilities, has prompted both the Stonnington and Glen Eira residents groups to jointly conduct this event.

As per the Auditor General’s report, the Caulfield Racecourse and Recreation Reserve, has three separate yet equal purposes – racecourse, public recreation ground and public park.  As a result of poor performance by the Trust (in managing the reserve) and successive State Governments (in overseeing Reserve Management) Racing has been permitted to dominate the Reserve to the extent that current usage of the reserve’s 54ha (valued at $2bn+) is allocated as

  • 11 hectares (20%) is under lease for racing purposes.  The Annual rental of $170K is generally returned to the MRC for racing related projects.
  • 37 hectares (69%) is used for racing purposes without any clear legal entitlement or payment arrangement, and
  • only 6 hectares (11%) is available as open space for the potential use of the community.   That 6 ha comprises facilities that do not meet the needs of community, are not easy to physically access and are subject to restricted usage times.  No accessibility issues and time restrictions are applicable to racing usage.

JOIN US IN REMINDING OUR POLITICIANS OF THE FORESIGHT OF OUR FOREFATHERS.  

In 1884, 8 years after the management of the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve was vested in a Board of Trustees, the Victorian Amateur Turf Club (VATC) sought sole management of the Reserve.  The response from the then Minister for Lands was:

“…. he thought the public ought not to have to ask for permission to go on a public reserve” … and …”The vicinity of the Caulfield racecourse would no doubt soon be thickly populated, and the value of the reserve to the public would then be widely enhanced”.  

THAT TIME HAS ARRIVED.  

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The “Requiem” will be held in the Centre of the Racecourse.   The Centre may be accessed by the

  • Glen Eira Road Tunnel – vehicle and pedestrian access
  • Guineas Tunnel, Neerim Road and Queens Avenue Gates.

 

 

 

CAMP MAGEE (a.k.a. Camp Caulfield) – OPEN UP THE RACECOURSE

Update 2/6/2016 – CAMP MAGEE TEMPORARILY HALTED

Camp Magee has been temporarily dismantled  – the magnitude of public and media attention generated by the “Bear” has been such, that the State Government is “more actively” progressing their review of the MRC’s occupation of the Caulfield Racecourse and Recreation Reserve.

Therefore, Camp Magee and next Saturday’s wrap up session are now deferred to give the newly appointed Minister (Lily Ambrosio) time to assess the current situation and determine the best way forward.

The “Bear”, with his tent,  promises to return if required (something we hope doesn’t eventuate).

A big thank you to the “Bear”, the media and the public for their efforts in highlighting this significant issue.

For those of you who missed viewing the centre parkland while Jim was in residence,  don’t let that deter you from visiting the centre parkland.   It’s an awesome sight and a tremendous community asset that is under utilized by the community.

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Update 31/5/2016 – The Age 31/5/2016 – The Age

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GERA original posting – 28/5/2016 below

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Cr. Jim “Bear Grylls” Magee has set up a week long camp* on the 5584 sqm of neglected crown land  located near the Glen Eira Road roundabout.  This land was a major part of the infamous land swap and was to become parkland that provided visual and physical above ground pedestrian access to the public parkland in the centre of the racecourse.

The purpose of “Bear” Magee’s camp out is to highlight the inequitable racing vs public use of the Crown Land known as the Caulfield Racecourse and Recreation Reserve and the need for Government action.  The camp out will end next Saturday (4/6/2016) at 1.00 p.m. with  a wrap up session attended by the  Minister responsible for the Reserve’s management (the newly appointed Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change – Lily D’Ambrosio), the Minister for Sport (John Eren) and various media representatives.   Residents are also urged to attend to show their support for the “opening up” of the Racecourse for public parkland usage.

* You can follow “Bear” Magee’s progress on Twitter

For those of you who don’t know, we re-iterate – the Caulfield Racecourse and Recreation Reserve was created by a Crown Grant in 1858 with the grant being formally enacted in 1876.  Under that Grant and all subsequent legislation, the primely located Reserve has 3 separate yet equal purposes of racecourse, public park and public recreation ground (ie. 33% racing and 67% public usage).

As per the scathing Auditor General’s Report (September, 2014), since the late 1990s mismanagement by the Board of Trustees and lack of Governmental oversight, has resulted in the Reserve’s current 54 hectares (valued at $2 bn) having the following usages*

  • 11 hectares (20%), is leased by the Melbourne Racing Club (MRC) for a flat rate of approx. $170,000 p.a.   The lease revenue is paid to the Trustees who generally return it to the MRC to fund racing related projects (as opposed to parkland related projects).  All revenue derived from the commercial activities (including the Glasshouse Tabaret) held on the Reserve land is retained by the MRC.
  • 37 hectares (69%) is used by MRC without any clear legal entitlement or payment arrangement.
  • 6 hectares (11%) is open space for potential use by the community 328 days p.a. (ie. excluding racing – 27 days p.a. and major MRC commercial event days – 10 days p.a.) and during prescribed hours (ie. 10 am. to dusk).   The 6 ha is not visible from the surrounding streets, is difficult to physically access and comprises limited facilities that don’t meet park users’ needs.

* ie. 89% racing and 11% public usage

In short, the Auditor General’s Report (which concurred with the findings of the earlier 2008 Legislative Council Select Committee Report on Crown Land Management) found that the current Crown land management arrangements over the reserve are untenable from a public interest perspective  …. attention urgently required”.

21 months after the tabling of the AG’s report there’s been talk but little action on the part of the Government.  Meanwhile

  • the above usages and leasing arrangements remain in place, to the advantage of the MRC and the detriment of the public.
  • the centre of the racecourse, which is the area originally set aside for public usage, sits empty most days (except for the 27 race days and 10 major event days p.a. when it is used as a car park) and every evening after dusk
  • innumerable children and adults are unable to play sport or train within their own Municipality because demand far exceeds supply.

“Bear” Magee is asking, on behalf of residents, for the Reserve’s current inequitable usages to be aligned with the three separate yet equal purposes.  Undertaking a week long camp out (without any facilities) in Melbourne, in June, is no mean feat.     GERA thanks him for his efforts and is a strong supporter of the cause.  GERA also urges residents to show their support by

  • going to view what they are missing out on (by accessing the racecourse centre via the Glen Eira Road Tunnel), then stopping for a chat with “Bear” Magee afterwards, and
  • attending the camp out wrap up session next Saturday.

Finally, words of wisdom from the past

The Argus, 16th August, 1884 (8 years after Grown Grant was enacted).

Extract of a meeting between the  Minister of Lands (Mr. Tucker) and VATC (Victorian Amateur Turf Club, later became the MRC) re management of the reserve being vested in the VATC

 “It seemed to him (Mr. Tucker) that to agree to the proposals of the club would be to limit to some extent the right of the public to use the ground for the purposes for which it was originally reserved – namely, for recreation and a public park. … The vicinity of the Caulfield racecourse would no doubt soon be thickly populated, and the value of the reserve to the public would then be widely enhanced.   …  Mr. Tucker said he thought the public ought not to have to ask for permission to go on a public reserve. ”

28/5/2016 – Residents wanting to play sport at the Glen Eira Road Tunnel Entrance Gates

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EXTENDED LIQUOR LICENCE AND OUTDOOR CINEMA – CAULFIELD RACECOURSE RESERVE

UPDATE

PLANNING CONFERENCE – 5/2/2015

The following is a summary of the Planning Conference, chaired by Cr. Delahunty, for the Outdoor Cinema Planning Permit Application

  • The Extended Liquor Licence, attached as supporting documentation, is a copy of the MRC’s existing Liquor Licence.   The area for the Outdoor Cinema (Area 1 in the below posting) was stated (by the MRC representative) as being within MRC’s existing lease agreements, however, no statement was made on the leasing agreement status of the Car Boot Village Precinct (Area 2 in the below posting).
  • Council was requested to confirm that the Outdoor Cinema Area is within the existing lease agreements and that Trustee Approval for the Cinema has been obtained.
  • All facilities (ie screen, toilets, food and beverage services) associated with the Outdoor Cinema will be temporary in nature.
  • The permit closing time of 1 a.m. provides for cleaning and clearing of the Outdoor Cinema area to occur immediately after the departure of Cinema patrons.
  • Despite resident attendees raising the issues outlined in the below posting, immediately after formally closing the planning conference, Cr. Delahunty informally commented that the permit application would be granted for the full 365 days.

27/1/2015 – The DPC Hearing scheduled for this Thursday (29/1/2015) has been cancelled and is to be replaced with a more appropriate decision making process that involves Councillors and a Council Meeting decision. The  Hearing is to be replaced with a Planning Conference (5/2/2015 @ 6.30 p.m. – Glen Eira Town Hall, Caulfield Cup Room).  As per our previous advice – Council’s policy is to accept and consider all objections received up until the Committee Hearing or Planning Conference (now 5/2/2015), hence residents wishing to object can still do so.

22/1/015 – Delegated Planning Committee (DPC) Hearing to be held on 29/1/2015 at 1.30 p.m.    Council’s policy is to accept all objections received up until the Committee Hearing or Planning Conference, hence residents wishing to object can still do so.

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Residents should be extremely concerned about the recent planning permit application signs placed around the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve (CRR) prior to the Christmas/New Year break. Despite the strong criticism, of both the Trustees’ management of the Reserve and the oversight of the Department of Environment and Primary Industry (DEPI), contained in the September, 2014 Auditor General’s Performance Audit of the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve, it appears that the racing industry is seeking to expand its use of the reserve for commercial activities.

The Planning Permit Application (GE/PP-27172/2014) is for “Use of land for a Place of Assembly (Outdoor Cinema)”.

 

  • The Outdoor Cinema does not, as many may have assumed, use the recently approved “$4m Electronic Screen”  permanently located in front of the Grandstand (S). It is a separate mobile facility which will be located between the course proper and the Administration Building (Area 1).
  • Includes an application for an extended liquor license applicable to both the outdoor cinema (Area 1) and the Car Boot Village area within the centre of the Racecourse (Area 2).

As per the information outlined below, both the Outdoor Cinema and liquor license will/may operate 365 days per year until 1 a.m. and will involve permanent or temporary installation of service facilities.

 AUDITOR GENERAL PERFORMANCE AUDIT SUMMARY

  • The Caulfield Racecourse Reserve comprises some 54 hectares of Crown Land created by a Crown Grant in 1858 for three separate yet equal purposes – racecourse, public park (passive usage) and public recreation ground (active usage). Over the years, various subsequent Acts of Parliament have re-iterated and re-enforced these three purposes and their equality.
  • Management of the reserve in accordance with the above three purposes has been provided by a Board of Trustees comprising 6 representatives nominated by the DEPI, 6 representatives nominated by the MRC and 3 nominated incumbent Councillors. The DEPI is entrusted with overseeing the Trustees management of the reserve in accordance with the three separate yet equal purposes.
  • “Historically, the trust’s decisions have disproportionately favoured racing interests with insufficient attention paid to fulfilling the community-related purposes of the reserve.

Of the approximate 54 hectares of land at the reserve:

  • 11 hectares – approximately 20 per cent – is under lease to MRC—the grandstand, Neerim Road Stables and Western Stables
  • 37 hectares – approximately 69 per cent – is used by MRC without any clear legal entitlement or payment arrangement
  • the remaining 6 hectares – approximately 11 per cent – is open space for the potential use by the community during prescribed hours.

As a result, the amount of space available for the community is limited and does not equitably meet the community-related purposes in the Crown grant.”

 ie public park purpose is 67% vs. public access area of 11% (6 ha) whereas the racecourse purpose is 33% vs. racing usage area of 89% (48ha of which 11 ha is leased and 37 ha without apparent entitlement or  payment or publicly available justification)

 “Despite a reported $1.8 million upgrade to the centre of the reserve, public space within the reserve is limited, unwelcoming,  not easy to reach and the recreational facilities are limited.”

 PLANNING PERMIT APPLICATION DETAILS

Extended Liquor Licence ApplicationApplicant: Victorian Amateur Turf Club (VATC) for the “supply of liquor in the course of catering for events, social receptions or social functions in premises other than the licensed premises during trading hours”.

  • “Premises other than licensed premises” being the referenced lawn areas numbered above
    • Between the Racecourse proper and the Administration Building and the Black Caviar Pavilion (Area 1)
    • The Car Boot Village Area (Area 2 – estimated to be 1.1 ha) which although designated a public access area during the 2011 landscaping has, without any publicly available justification, since been designated a restricted area.
  • “Licensed Premises” being as per existing liquor license/s
    • Grandstand/Function Centre Complex – lease under review
    • Glasshouse Restaurant, Café, Bar and Tabaret – lease under review
    • Black Caviar Pavilion – no lease agreement                       
  • Temporary and/or permanent bar facilities will be located in both areas 1 & 2.
  • Trading Hours will be
    • Good Friday and Anzac Days – between 12 noon and 1 a.m.
    • On any other day – between 7 a.m. and 1 a.m.

Place of Assembly (Outdoor Cinema) ApplicationApplicant: Melbourne Racing Club (MRC)

  • Cinema use will be primarily between November – March with an option to extend this usage throughout the year. No indication is given of expected weekly or daily usage (eg. weekends only, 7 days per week).
  • Sessions will run from dusk to 1 a.m.
  • Expected average attendance is 500 patrons per session with car parking being provided via the Guineas Carpark (500 spaces) which is greater than the car parking requirements for Places of Assembly (0.3 car spaces per patron = 150 car parking spaces). Since the Guineas Car Park is also expected to provide parking for the patrons and visitors of the Caulfield Village Development, any overflow car parking requirements are to be serviced by the MRC’s numerous other car parks.
  • The 7m high x 11m long Movie Screen will be mobile (ie. located on flat bed truck)
  • Cinema activities will be fully contained between Racecourse Proper and the Administration Building (Area 1). Food and beverages will be available from the Black Caviar Pavilion and may also be brought in by patrons.
  • Toilet and other facilities are available nearby on the course and will prominently signed.
  • A localised audio system will be used within EPA guidelines.
  • Lighting of the area will be necessary for safety requirements, however, the screen will be the primary light source.

 Justification for the Cinema Proposal – Prepared by Beveridge Williams on behalf of the MRC.

  • “The proposed use offers a unique entertainment experience in proximity to complementary enterprises such as dining and food outlets within the Phoenix Precinct Area
  • “Access to parking at the Racecourse is available with minimal impact to the Community”
  • “The proposed outdoor cinema makes use of an entertainment facility that would otherwise lie idle during the proposed hours of operation”
  • The proposed outdoor cinema is to be located in the northern part of the Racecourse. This location has been chosen for various reasons including
    • Proximity to the Guineas Car Park
    • Ability to locate the screen in an optimal viewing area
    • Ability to locate temporary food selling facilities nearby
    • View of the racecourse afforded to visitors.
  • The MRC has received the approval of the public land manager of the Reserve.

GERA’s CONCERNS

  • The statement that the public land manager has approved the proposed outdoor cinema is not supported by documentation attached to the application.TheDEPI letter, dated 1/9/2014, rather than giving approval, outlines the conditions required for approval. These conditions being
    • A lease agreement being in place
    • That the outdoor cinema is within the lease area
    • That the approval of the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve Trust (CRRT) has been obtained.

No documentation re a lease agreement or approval of the CRRT has been provided.

  • Details of the application for the Extended Liquor License are presented “in support” of the Outdoor Cinema application yet is not specifically mentioned in that application. Surely, it should be part of the application and be supported by explicit approvals of the DEPI and Trustees. No documentation re a lease agreement or CRRT approval has been provided.
  • Provision of Car Parking – It is proposed that cinema (and presumably Car Boot Village Functions) car parking will be provided by the Guineas Car Park (500 spaces) which exceeds the specified requirement of 3 car spaces per patron = 150 car parking spaces. The report mentions the Guineas Car Park will also be used by Caulfield Village residents, visitors and patrons. However, it does not mention that the Guineas Car Park will also be used for events held in the Grandstand/Function Complex and the Car Boot Village Area and by Glass House Tabaret patrons. No analysis of car parking demand has been presented in support of the comments that any overflow car parking requirements are to be serviced by the MRC’s numerous other car parks” and that there will be “minimal impact to the Community”.
  • The comment that “The proposed outdoor cinema makes use of an entertainment facility that would otherwise lie idle during the proposed hours of operation” does not address the issue of inequitable parkland usage. Unlike other public parks, public access to both the Outdoor Cinema area and the Car Boot Village areas are currently permitted between 9.45 a.m. and dusk – ergo those facilities are idle because the public is denied access. It also begs the question of why public park usage is not permitted between 7.00 a.m. and 1 a.m. yet commercial activities, accompanied by liquor service, is permitted.
  • Insufficient information provided on the installation of “temporary and/or permanent facilities” bar service facilities to be located within Outdoor Cinema and the Car Boot Village area.   No other information is provided and without additional information it is impossible to make an assessment – any decision made will provide full discretionary authority or a carte blanche to the MRC and VATC which will be extremely difficult to modify.

Given our above comments on the application itself, GERA believes that the application as presented should not be approved as

  • the application (Outdoor Cinema and Liquor License) disproportionately favours racing usage of the reserve (for commercial activities) at the expense of the public park usage.
  • does not include appropriate land manager approvals
  • lacks details on what is being requested and
  • does not provide adequate assessments on parking issues or amenity impacts (park users, current and future residents)

In addition when viewed in the context of the

  • Unresolved issues on the CRRT management of the Reserve raised by the Auditor General
  • The current unresolved leasing issues between the MRC and the Trustees
  • The newly elected governments decision to review the management structure of the reserve

GERA believes it is inappropriate for Council to make a decision on the application and the application should be held in abeyance until formal unconditional approval is provided by the DEPI and CRRT.