By Melissa Sheil
FORRESTFIELD Football Club are frustrated by a City of Kalamunda bid to use Federal funding as leverage to get more funding, saying the decision will delay their promised changeroom upgrade.
In 2019, the club successfully lobbied Hasluck MP Ken Wyatt to secure a $2 million election commitment for multiple projects at Hartfield Park with the changeroom upgrade and building of a new female changeroom made priority.
Club secretary Drew Godfrey said Kalamunda Council’s decision at last week’s meeting to instead use the funds to leverage a State Community Sporting and Recreation Facilities Fund (CSRFF) grant application was unfair.
“We started the ball rolling [with Ken Wyatt] otherwise no funding would have been received, as the City rejected our grants application for the project,” he said.
“We had hoped we would finally get these facilities when Mr Wyatt promised us the funds, but hope is moving further and further away.”
Cr Boyd, who is also a coach at the club, moved an alternative motion to let them begin the changeroom upgrade, including the need for an Aboriginal Heritage survey, while still leveraging the rest of the funding for other projects.
Her motion was rejected by council.
At the beginning of the meeting, Cr Brooke O’Donnell asked staff if the Federal Government had approved the intent to leverage the funds, to which staff replied they had.
However, in a letter obtained by Echo News, the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications said co-funding the project was possible, but the City needed to submit a request.
It is not clear if this request has been made formally.
A spokesperson for Mr Wyatt’s office told Echo News they had no record of receiving the notice of intent to co-fund or leverage the funds.
Mr Godfrey said the club was not aware of the upcoming decision until three days before the meeting.
Club president Chris Minchin said the club’s facilities did not meet WA Football commission or Perth Football League code and needed constant band-aid fixes.
“We have had parents come to us and say they are going to be moving their daughters to new clubs next year because of our facilities,” he said.
“Girls want to stay here with the club but we can’t be asking them to come to the field wearing their uniform, or line up to get changed in the toilets one by one or wait until the boys are finished in the changerooms.
“We have a diversity plan to get in a senior girls team, wheelchair footy and some walking AFL for seniors but our facilities just won’t allow it.”
On Monday the clubrooms were flooded after heavy rains over the weekend.
The City claims $6 million has been dedicated to sporting infrastructure at Hartfield Park but Mr Minchin denies his club has seen much of it.
“We got lighting a few years ago but there’s not been any major development for our club since 1975 and any that has happened has been partly out of our own pockets,” he said.
“The City asked us to fund a $40,000 feasibility study for the new changerooms at the club’s expense – we said there’s no way we can afford that.
“They asked us to seek funding elsewhere so that’s why we reached out to Mr Wyatt, and now even that funding is being put aside.”
City staff maintained there would be little difference in the proposed project timeframe whether they decided to leverage the funds or not, due to the average 12 to 16 month waiting period on Aboriginal Heritage Act approval.
City of Kalamunda Mayor Margaret Thomas said the City aimed to begin construction on the new changeroom and upgrade in 2022/23 and would look to provide interim solutions in the meantime.
“There’s been a vortex of female footy and other inclusive types of footy so we’re just trying to play catch up whilst hopefully bringing an extra $1.175 million to local clubs in the next few years,” she said.