Richmond Valley ready for funding opportunities

RICHMOND Valley Council is heeding the Australian and NSW governments’ call to action by having a number of quintessential community projects ‘shovel ready’ for funding opportunities when they become available.

Council recently had the opportunity to attend the NSW Government Regional Growth Fund information session in Lismore. Richmond Valley Mayor Robert Mustow and General Manager Vaughan Macdonald, along with key staff, were able to have detailed discussions with senior representatives from the Department of Premier and Cabinet, Transport NSW and Office of Sport regarding available funding sources, as well as recent changes to some programs.

Cr Mustow said Council had approved funding for key projects’ master planning as it would place Council in a position to capitalise on the regional growth funds under both governments.

“In discussions with the Deputy Premier John Barilaro and our local member Chris Gulaptis, both have emphasised the importance of having shovel-ready projects which have community support and will make a real difference in our local community,” he said.

“The NSW Government has made clear it has money to invest in regional NSW and we are determined our community will have the best shot of getting its fair share.”

Cr Mustow said Council had enjoyed recent funding success for major projects such as the NRLX upgrade, the Casino Drill Hall refurbishment, Broadwater shared pathway and Memorial Park upgrade, the Evans Head Tennis Clubhouse, and the redevelopment of the Woodburn riverside precinct.

General Manager Vaughan Macdonald said Council had focussed significant resources to support the preparation of master plans and grant applications, all aimed at key projects to support the people and businesses of the Richmond Valley well into the future.

“Council realises the value of government grants and how they can make a difference to our communities,” he said.

“We have been proactive about obtaining funding to get the ball rolling on a number of community projects to make sure the Richmond Valley remains such a wonderful place to live and work.

“By getting on the front foot through master planning and actively engaging with our community, we are making sure our projects are in line with our community’s priorities.”

Mr Macdonald said Council would inform residents of opportunities to get involved through its website, social media, and local news outlets.

At tonight’s Council meeting, councillors discussed a number of priority local infrastructure projects which could be funded under regional growth programs. These included:

Casino Showground and Racecourse

The Casino Showground master plan process is linked to a Regional Sports Infrastructure Grant Expression of Interest which closes Friday 4 May. The plan is in draft form and has been developed with significant user group input over the past 12 months. The draft plan has also been discussed with Country Racing NSW so Council can develop a stronger partnership for the racing industry at the facility.

Key points covered in the master plan include:

  • A 90m x 50m undercover arena and associated infrastructure to host local and regional equine events. With the ability to facilitate a variety of disciplines and with local interest and support of clubs, the facility will be in high demand. The potential local economic benefit for 15 to 20 major events per annum, drawing between 200 to 2000 people per visit is substantial.
  • The establishment of a cross-country course on the eastern parcel of land adjacent to the racecourse, creating the potential to host a tetrathlon, which involves horse riding, shooting, swimming and running. It is a sport on the rise and would be a significant drawcard.
  • A new stable complex, featuring up to 100 stalls and associated infrastructure, such as horse walkers and possibly a swimming pool, would attract trainers from across the region and possibly South East Queensland. The establishment of the showgrounds as a recognised regional race horse training facility would be a great boost to the local economy, not just through visitation but through employment opportunities. It is a flood-free site, built on a ridge which provides natural drainage during heavy weather where other tracks may close.
  • Provision of water and power heads to the camping area of the showgrounds will provide the ability to hold a vast number of weekend events like camp drafts, providing an accommodation option for both horse lovers, as well as other displays/shows held at the complex.
  • Provision of a regular RV-friendly camping site is also being considered.

Download the master plan documents here.

Casino Memorial Swimming Pool

Council is starting the preparation of a master plan for the aging Casino Memorial Swimming Pool complex. As part of a full-service review of all public pools in the Richmond Valley area, a condition report has been undertaken at the Casino Pool, as well as a detailed hydraulic/filtration assessment. This shows it is time to start planning for the future renewal of this highly-valued facility.

Razorback Lookout, Evans Head

Razorback Lookout in Evans Head provides stunning views for local and visitors to the Richmond Valley. Planning for its upgrade is in its infancy with Council engaging with the Evans Head Aboriginal community representatives and will soon be establishing a working group of community stakeholders.

Northern Rivers Rail Trail (NRRT)

The push for the NRRT to extend from Casino right through to Murwillumbah has grown in momentum on the back of State and Federal funding for the Murwillumbah-to-Crabbes Creek section. The NRRT Committee identified the Casino-to-Eltham section as next in line for funding. The Committee has completed extensive work inspecting the line for this section. As a result, they have been able to establish relatively tight costings, including the replacement of bridges at around $33 million ($15.5 million Casino to Lismore and $17.5 million Lismore to Eltham).

Funding is available under the Tourism Demand Driver Infrastructure Program, matched dollar for dollar. Richmond Valley Council submitted the application on behalf of NRRT seeking $54,000 with funds to be matched by NRRT, Richmond Valley and Lismore Councils. If successful this money will fund a business case for the full Casino-to-Eltham section.

Casino Industrial Estate expansion

An expression of interest (EOI) has been lodged under the Regional Growth Fund Growing Local Economies Program to fund essential infrastructure upgrades which will be critical to the establishment of the Solaris Nutraceuticals (medicinal cannabis), Natures Hemp Australia (hemp food products) and Utilitas Group Pty Ltd (bio hub) projects in Casino. In addition to supporting these projects, the infrastructure will increase the capacity of the existing Casino Industrial Estate and its potential future expansion. Works proposed to be funded include the upgrading of electricity, road, water and sewer services. The EOI is currently being assessed. If successful, Council will be asked to submit a formal application.

Stronger Country Communities Fund (Round 2)

Council has been allocated $1.72 million for projects over $50,000 which are to be selected and approved by Council, then forwarded to the NSW Government for approval. Council has listed seven projects which align with the Richmond Valley Made 2030 Community Strategic Plan, and were identified through community feedback. Projects which are already identified which Council is preparing scope documentation and seeking quotes on are:

  • Woodburn Riverside Park Playground
  • Stan Payne Oval grandstand, ground and clubroom surround improvements in Evans Head
  • Evans Head Main Beach access improvements
  • Queen Elizabeth Park 2 Clubrooms and stands in Casino
  • Coraki Hockey - Windsor Park refurbishment in Coraki
  • Woodburn Oval Canteen, and Soccer Club refurb, and
  • Crawford Square Water Play space in Casino

Requests for funding to contribute to the new car park at the New Italy Museum and funds for improvements to the Rileys Hill Dry Dock have also been received.

Council will also be undertaking improvements within Rappville, including upgrading the Community Hall’s facilities and sportsground improvements, to ensure all communities receive benefits from Council’s success with these funding programs.

For further information, or comments from Mayor Robert Mustow and General Manager Vaughan Macdonald, please contact Sharon Davidson on 0419 401 214.