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Planning the key to success

“Having a clear, strategic Community Action Plan (CAP) in place, democratically voted for by local residents, has been pivotal to the successful roll out of two major projects in Buangor”, said Buangor Community Sports Committee President, David Adams, the CAP - which was adopted by the community in March 2006 - meant that the community can “get on with the job.”

“The community has researched what it wants and these decisions are documented in the Community Action Plan,” Andrew said.

“We just need to wait in line for the funding and then do the works. This way, there aren’t too many hassles and it’s fairly straight forward.”

The first two priority projects identified in the CAP were the upgrade of the sports pavilion at Toronto Park and the construction of a walk bridge and walking track over the nearby Billy Billy Creek.

Of the $100,000 required to carry out both projects, Regional Development Victoria contributed $66,000 from its Small Towns Development Fund, Ararat Rural City Council allocated $15,000, and the community kicked in $5,333 (which was left over from money raised to convert the Cobb & Co changing station into a community hall some years before). In kind works equated to around $13,000.

Buangor resident Alison Tonkin, also an Ararat Rural City employee, knew that $15,000 had already been earmarked for the walking track as part of Council’s Bike Strategy.

“Council had money in its budget to do the walking track so we thought let’s use the $15,000 to assist us in getting a ‘two for one’ external grant,” she said.

State Government funding was approved in March 2006, however works needed to begin by the end of the financial year. To add to the pressure, cricket season started in October, which meant the new kitchen, toilets and showers for the pavilion needed to be installed in just a few months.

“The time constraints weren’t necessarily a bad thing. If people know there’s a time limit, they are more likely to get involved and help get things done,” David Adams said.

About 15 people lent their muscle at working bees to demolish the inside of the hall and local labourers were engaged to do the installation works.

“We never had any problems with volunteers,” David said. “We have a fantastic community. We’d just let them know when working bees were on and people would turn up.”

The completed renovation works inside the 24-year-old pavilion not only now satisfy the needs of sporting clubs. The facility offers other community organisations an alternative meeting place in Buangor.

The community has also embraced the new walk bridge and walking track over the Billy Billy Creek which was completed in March 2007. This facility provides a safe link from the primary school and township to the recreation reserve at Toronto Park.

Alison Tonkin said that the only access from the school previously was via the Western Highway or a rough track over the creek. In very wet weather the creek often became flooded which was a major hazard. And in summer, the area was a haven for snakes.

“The new walking track is off the highway and is a safe means of pedestrian travel,” Alison said. “It was created with minimal impact on the environment and follows a natural alignment.”

David Adams also project managed these works.

“It was a good, easy project,” he said. “We had a two-day working bee with about 10 blokes to build the red gum bridge.

“With Buangor being such a strong farming community, access to earth-moving equipment donated by locals also benefited the walking track construction and got things done faster.”

Other initiatives in the Buangor Community Action Plan include a museum, rotunda, playground, landscaping and lawn bowls green at Toronto Park, and further improvements to the Cobb & Co station.

“It’s a democratic process and it goes by vote,” David said. “You’ve got to get out there and speak to people to ensure you get the support you need to get these things through.”