Dubbo council debates price of sun safety

DUBBO City councillors are a skate bowl apart on the wisdom of building a shade area that could cost as much as $750,000.

They all baulked at the six-figure estimate, but some argued they should find a way to protect the hundreds of skate park users from the sun.

Dubbo City Council had built the $400,000 facility for the benefit of young people, who should not be left to fry, they said.

The majority voted to look at more options in the future, but Dubbo mayor Mathew Dickerson said it was "crazy" to accept responsibility and Cr Bill Kelly warned people would call them "fools" if they spent such a sum.

The report by council parks and landcare services director Murray Wood was prompted by debate in the council 12 months ago.

Mr Wood provided three options to the works and services committee this week, all of which were estimated to cost at least $500,000.

Neither shade cloth nor a covered outdoor activity area came with the director's endorsement.

The third option of strategically-placed shade structures met the most criteria but it did not overcome all obstacles.

Horticultural services had no funds identified within the four-year budget to even carry out site investigations and progress any designs, Mr Wood said.

He recommended the council not pursue the matter any further because of advice from the Dubbo City Youth Council that the skate park was only used by some young people and because of the $750,000 estimate.

Cr Allan Smith said it was a significant cost, but he thought the council should look into it further in future budget planning sessions - without committing itself either way.

Cr Ben Shields agreed, saying it was unacceptable they walk away from the matter when they had built the skate park to get young people off the street.

"(The heat) is shocking out there," he said.

"I don't think we'll be able to get away with not having shade structures at this facility in the future."

Cr Dickerson tried to turn the debate, saying they lived in Australia, the land of the slip-slop-slap message.

He called for a "commonsense" approach and individual responsibility.

"Do we get to the point where every council facility has to have shade - the ovals shaded, the footpaths shaded," he said.

Cr Kelly agreed with the mayor, saying if it was too hot, skate park users should do something else for the day.

"People would think we were fools if we spent $750,000 on this," he said.

Cr Kevin Parker said perhaps they should plant a few significant trees there.

After much ado the committee members excepting Cr Dickerson voted not to pursue the options in the report, but return to the matter in budget sessions.

Their recommendation will go to Monday's council meeting.

faye.wheeler@ruralpress.com

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