On Monday night councillors adopted a masterplan to determine the long term strategic direction of the Dubbo Showground.
While that might not sound very exciting, what it means is that the community can expect to see our showground undergo a major revamp in the coming years. What I would like to see is a facility that is modern and fit to host a large number of community events.
We already know that our showground is well used. There were 117 events run over 176 days in 2018. More than half of those events involved livestock, and they often draw people from across NSW, Australia, and even from overseas.
It is important that when people come to our city, they get a good impression of Dubbo as a vibrant, thriving regional city. It has long been a concern of mine that if people's only experience of our city is the showground, they may not fully appreciate how good our city is.
Prior to the 2017 council election I spoke about the need to greatly improve amenities, bring the grandstand up to current standards and add to the general aesthetics of the showground. I was pleased that all of these aspects were addressed in the masterplan.
The report found there were a number of issues with the current showground including high operational costs, aging infrastructure, poor layout of the site and some poorly utilised facilities.
The strategy found a staged redevelopment was the best way forward, allowing existing users to maintain events with minimal disruption while increasing the use and value.
Excitingly, a number of the proposed projects have been identified as short-term priorities, which means resident shouldn't have to wait long to see improvements.
A new amenities block, disabled amenities near the grandstand and the improvement of other amenities are already included in the 2019-20 operational budget.
There are a number of other items that will be looked at in the coming years. Council has included funding over the next two years to support the implementation of further projects, and will be done by making community partnerships and seeking government grants.
One of the key recommendations is the inclusion of a function venue for 1500 people. A feasibility study and conceptual designs will be future steps in taking that part or the masterplan forward.
The masterplan also focuses on a new grandstand along Fitzroy Street, as well as the consolidation of all buildings on the western side of the complex. This includes the show office, toilets and harness club facilities.
Many other recommendations focused on the upgrade or replacement of pavilions and the expansion of the indoor arena. While these are longer term goals, they are absolutely critical to the long-term success of the showground.