I’ve been treating Hawke’s Bay’s failure to make the velodrome consideration list as an opportunity … an opportunity to re-group and re-think our regional sport and fitness priorities.
Constantly, BayBuzz hears from folks around the region who want better community swimming facilities, a competitive rowing venue, more playing fields or upgraded facilities for this or that sport, more financial support to meet the operating costs of this or that code, more playgrounds close to where kids live, and more.
Now is the time to inventory all of those needs and aspirations, sort and price them out, and decide what the region wants most and can actually afford. Because there appears to be a significant — and growing — gap between the appetite of sport enthusiasts for facilities and operating subsidies and the region’s ability to feed those competing mouths.
The clamour over the sports park and its sucking in of resources has taken the community’s eye off the ball … fashioning an affordable long-term sports and fitness strategy for the region — one that serves the recreation and exercise needs of all segments of our population — with genuine buy-in from competing sport codes, average ratepayers with differing sport affinities (as well as non-sport priorities), and competing local jurisdictions.
Colin Stone takes some exception to this analysis. He says there has been a regional sports strategy since 2004 … it’s just that the politicians (i.e., Councils) haven’t really taken any ownership of it, especially when it comes to funding priorities.
Actually, I take that as confirming the problem – a ‘strategy’, ignored at best when it comes to funding decisions, and undermined at worst by independent pursuit of Councils’ own parochial sport interests, scarcely qualifies as more than a historical document of passing interest on a shelf.
As it turns out, Colin and I agree on some possible next steps. In particular, instead of waiting forever for councils to overcome their parochial paralysis, why not organise a ‘blue ribbon’ committee of sport advocates from Hawke’s Bay to address the strategic issues, including future facilities needs and funding potential.
As Colin puts it …
“What is really important is that all stakeholders take ownership for the Hawke’s Bay Regional Sport and Active Recreation Strategy and that the region, and the sector, moves forward together. To ensure we all stay on task, perhaps there is an opportunity to develop a governance group made from senior politicians and local community leaders to ensure the region is ‘held accountable’ for the deliverables. What might we possibly achieve for the sector and for the region if the likes of Graeme Avery, Kevin Atkinson and Neil Edmondson, for example, were part of such a governance group?”
Personally, I think the participation of community leaders like those Colin suggests is the paramount need … let the politicians follow.
Crouch … touch … pause (I don’t like this part) … engage!