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It has come to light that the Town of Victoria Park is currently considering a business case to develop Harold Rossiter Reserve in East Victoria Park, as a single use hockey facility. The synthetic turf pitch would also be sub-leased to other councils and groups. The business case includes one synthetic and up to three grass turf playing fields, lighting towers and purpose built training facilities and club rooms. The proposed facility would directly adjoin the fragile Kensington (Bush Forever and endangered ecological community) Bushland.
 

Most residents are unaware of the proposal because the ToVP preferred to delay community consultation because “it’s premature and because of community outrage”.

 

Members of the community have united to set up Harold Rossiter Reserve Community Action Group aiming to keep the public open space for ALL the ToVP community and future generations to enjoy.

Visit yourthoughts.victoriapark.wa.gov.au/synthetic-turf-hockey-facility to view the final Synthetic Turf Hockey Facility Site Assessment Report.

Image: Banksia menziesii in Kensington Bushland, courtesy Narelle Douglas

Banksia Bushland

The proposal is expected to impact terrestrial fauna in the following ways: • Loss of habitat (Particularly Black Cockatoo species) • Noise disturbance • Light pollution • Loss of food sources • Loss of recreation area • Increase road traffic, increasing the risk of road kills to native fauna • Litter increase [P160 of 06 June 2017 Elected Members Briefing Session Appendices, available from the ToVP website].

According to the ToVP’s Healthy Vic Park Plan May 2017, providing healthy places and spaces to encourage and support healthy lifestyle opportunities is key with • Parks and public open spaces, • Infrastructure for walking and cycling and • A range of community places and recreational facilities voted top health priorities by the community.

 
 

Despite the findings of this survey, we risk losing much of this increasingly rare public green space, which is vital for the health, and mental health of the residents. The value of leisure and recreation for the broader community, young and old, sporty and not, is something this dwindling open space caters for and is worth preserving.

The Myth:

“Synthetic turf is much better for the environment because it saves greenhouse gases as it doesn’t need to be mowed”

The Facts:

The creation, installation and maintenance of the hard-wearing, 10-year lifespan turf, end of life transportation and ultimate thousands of years in landfill significantly outweigh any perceived benefits from not mowing it!

According to the Department of Sports and Recreation (DSR) ‘currently, in Western Australia, if the surface cannot be reused in any way it ends up in landfill’. Often artificial turf replaces a natural grass surface, so another contribution synthetic turf makes to global warming is the removal of a natural grass surface that reduces carbon dioxide, by converting it into oxygen. End of life disposal involves costs associated with removal, transportation and landfill charges (which are generally based on weight, and synthetic turf is a relatively weighty product), making the disposal of a disused surface a significant expense.

Most synthetic turf surfaces absorb rather than reflect sunlight, causing the emission of heat. These high temperatures not only impact the surrounding environment, but they can also affect the health and safety of athletes and children who use the synthetic turf grounds.

Recent local research for the AFL and CA, suggests that in hot conditions, an artificial grass sporting area can be up to 40% hotter than a natural field, although this increased heat dissipates quickly on a windy day. Natural grass plays an important role in controlling climate.

Natural grass is one of the best exterior solar radiation control ground covers, because it absorbs radiation and converts it to food for growth through photosynthesis. Natural grass surfaces reduce temperature extremes by absorbing the sun’s heat during the day and releasing it slowly in the evening.

The replacement of natural grass with synthetic turf has the opposite effect and can contribute to rising temperatures in urban settings, known as the urban heat island effect. Urban heat islands are created when natural grass and trees are replaced by impervious surfaces which absorb heat. Urban heat islands increase demand for energy (particularly air conditioning), intensify air pollution, and increase heat-related health problems. Not only does removing natural grass exacerbate the urban heat island effect – most synthetic turf fields absorb rather than reflect sunlight, causing them to emit heat.

Source Department of Sports and Recreation:
https://www.dsr.wa.gov.au/support-and-advice/facility-management/developing-facilities/natural-grass-vs-synthetic-turf-study-report/broader-environmental-considerations

Clearly a synthetic turf in Harold Rossiter Reserve would be to the detriment of the ecological community.

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 
 

According to the Business Plan, why does The Victoria Park Xavier Hockey Club want to develop a synthetic turf hockey field here?

The Victoria Park Xavier Hockey Club (VPXHC) is currently located at Fletcher Park, which is shared with the Perth Cricket Club. Fletcher Park does not have the capacity to accommodate a synthetic hockey facility and maintain a quality A Grade turf wicket. It is for this reason, the VPXHC has sought for numerous years, an alternative reserve within the ToVP to develop a synthetic hockey facility. See Page i of the Business Case.

 

VICTORIA PARK XAVIER HOCKEY CLUB currently attracts members from across the metropolitan area and from diverse suburbs. This is a characteristic of the sport in general, which tends to attract membership to clubs based on historic loyalties of generations of families and networks associated with education institutions. Hockey operates contrarily to other traditional rectangular field sports which generally attract 90% or more of their members from within a 5km catchment of their home base. It is therefore challenging to fully assess the ‘real’ demand for a facility based purely on population and demographic influences. See Page 19 of the Business Case.

NOTE: If this is true, attempts to link the anticipated growth in Club Membership with the anticipated increase in population may well be a fruitless exercise.

According to the Business Plan, what advice has the Town of Victoria Park been given about development of a synthetic turf hockey field at Harold Rossiter?

The main considerations arising from the consultation process relate to a number of risks associated with the development of the site. The majority of these risks would apply if there were to be any further development of the site; regardless of whether this be for hockey or other uses. They include:

  • Environmental impact of the development at Harold Rossiter;

  • Traffic and noise impact on surrounding land uses and flora and fauna;

  • Potential community outrage with the reduction and access to public open space;

  • Potential community outrage in regards to the need to remove mature trees to facilitate the development;

  • Limitation of the number of car parking bays that can be accommodated within the reserve;

  • Water management and the capability of the existing license and bore to facilitate the development of a synthetic turf and grass pitches; and

  • Financial viability and the need to ensure sufficient income can be derived from a variety of sources to sustain a synthetic turf and associated amenity. See page ii of the Business Case.

 

Harold Rossiter’s only road access is via Kent Street, which minimises the interface with surrounding residential development; however Kent Street carries a high volume of traffic as it is the main thoroughfare connecting Albany Highway and Curtin University. It also experiences substantial unauthorised parking along the boundary of the reserve from current uses. See Page 6 of the Business Case.

 

Harold Rossiter is considered a highly utilised reserve within the ToVP not only for its quality sporting playing fields but for active and passive recreation purists (such as walking and dog exercises) as well. The reserve is a hive of activity each week day with local residents who consider the reserve an important open space for their health and social wellbeing. See Page 6 of the Business Case.

According to the Business Plan, was Harold Rossiter recommended as the most suitable site available?

Summary of Site Analysis: On the completion of the site and the revised site selection analysis it has become apparent that Harold Rossiter is not the most appropriate site, scoring a total of 26 indicating the risk of pursuing the site is much higher than others assessed. See Page 12 of the Business Case.

According to the Business Plan, what will happen to sporting clubs currently using Harold Rossiter park?

The current soccer club has a long history with Harold Rossiter and currently has two teams training and competing on the reserve. The ToVP has numerous requests from soccer clubs for reserve allocation and is unable to cater for this demand. See Page 10 of the Business Case.

If the soccer club is displaced there is no identified alternative reserve within the ToVP to relocate them to. See Page 10 of the Business Case.

According to the Business Plan, what will happen if the development of a synthetic turf hockey field at Harold Rossiter does not proceed?

If development of a synthetic hockey turf at Harold Rossiter does not proceed, it is recommended that the ToVP pursue the option to develop a synthetic hockey facility for the VPXHC at an alternative site in partnership with a neighbouring local government as this option provides the greatest growth potential for the club and ongoing viability for hockey within the area. See Page iii of the Business Case.

According to the Business Plan, what investigations need to take place before approval is given to install a hockey field having a synthetic turf surface?

Harold Rossiter is home to a number of mature trees that are used for feeding and breeding by various fauna. Removal of any native vegetation and trees, which are a food and breeding source for Black Cockatoos requires investigation and State and Federal Approvals under the EPBC Act. See Page 9 of the Business Case.

Water management: Inevitably the use of water will be a key determinant of whether a site can or cannot be developed for synthetic turf provision. Harold Rossiter Water Licence is currently at capacity and is likely to be put under further pressure with the change in use and quality of service. See Page 16 of the Business Case.

NOTE: Within The Business Case Risk Assessment, there is no mention of the environmental cost of disposing of the synthetic turf that must be replaced every ten years

According to the Business Plan, why should the installation of a hockey field having a synthetic turf surface not proceed immediately?

There is a high level of recreational use within the site and surrounding Kensington Bushland. See Page 9 of the Business Case.

Current lighting is not suitable for night competition; further construction of lights may cause neighbourhood concern due to increased lighting within the area. See Page 10 of the Business Case.

The ToVP have not conducted a traffic and or noise impact assessment to ascertain if the introduction of a synthetic turf hockey facility, which would have significantly higher use than current facilities, would have an impact on surrounding land uses and fauna. See Page 10 of the Business Case.

According to the Business Plan, what other sites have been identified as potentially suitable for the development of a synthetic turf hockey field?

The Harold Rossiter Reserve Feasibility Study, September 2009 and the ToVP Sport and Recreation Facilities Strategy November 2013, both recommended that an alternative site to Harold Rossiter be considered within the ToVP to develop a synthetic hockey facility. See Page 15 of the Business Case.

The City of Belmont is willing to discuss the possibility of working with the ToVP to develop a synthetic hockey facility at their sport and recreation precinct – 400 Abernethy Rd Belmont. See Page 21 of the Business Case.

A site selection process was undertaken by the ToVP during the pre-feasibility study, which identified a number of potential options; however as the purpose of this Business Case is to assess Harold Rossiter Reserve as the VPSHC’s preferred location, the alternatives have not been fully explored. See Page 10 of the Business Case.

NOTE: The Risk Assessment concluded that of the twelve possible options, nine were assessed as presenting lower risks than Harold Rossiter, and two were assessed as presenting an equal risk

According to the Business Plan, other sites have been identified as potentially suitable for the development of a synthetic turf hockey field. Are these sites being assessed?

A number of reports and studies previous to the Pre-Feasibility Study highlighted that Harold Rossiter was not an appropriate venue for a synthetic hockey playing field and that alternative venues should be considered (noting that these reports were for a multipurpose sporting facility). The subsequent pre-feasibility study has not adequately investigated the selection of the site and or resolved the feasibility of Harold Rossiter to accommodate the synthetic hockey playing field. See Page 15 of the Business Case.

Further consultation with the users of Harold Rossiter was not conducted as it was deemed premature and would create some outrage within the community. To mitigate this risk, the ToVP have preferred to delay such consultation until the outcomes of the Business Case have been considered by Council. See Page 21 of the Business Case.

According to the Business Plan, what Environmental Impact Studies have either already been conducted or still need to be conducted?

  • The Ecologia (2005) Kensington Bushland Protection Study did not consider the impact of any development of the adjacent Harold Rossiter Reserve. The study only considered the impacts of flora and fauna of the bushland itself, though it does highlight what protection measures are required

  • Further investigations of the environmental concerns and impact of the synthetic hockey playing field on Harold Rossiter, have not been completed and or address the impact on the reserve itself, referring only to the boarding land portions;

  • The review of the Hazardous Gas investigation report was completed for the land adjacent to Harold Rossiter and could not conclusively eliminate impacts of developing a synthetic playing field;

  • A geotechnical investigation has not been completed; as such the positioning within the reserve, design and feasibility of constructing a synthetic hockey field cannot be confirmed; and

  • A traffic impact assessment has not been completed to inform the access requirements, car parking and impact of the surrounding area.

See Page 17 of the Business Case.

According to the Business Plan, how often will the proposed hockey field be in use?

ACCORDING TO HOCKEY WA, An examination has been undertaken on the current usage of highly utilised synthetic turf facilities within the metropolitan area. The analysis is based on current usage between the months of April to September during “peak times”. Peak times can be defined as:

  • Monday to Friday from 16:30 to 22:00 (for school facilities only until 9pm).

  • Saturday from 09:00 to 21:00 (only from 1pm for the school facilities).

  • Sunday from 09:00 to 20:00. The peak times denote the times that the synthetic turf will be most in demand. Outside of these times there is little or no demand for club training and/or competition use.

See Page 18, Appendix C of the Business Case.

 

MEET SOME OF OUR LOCAL RESIDENTS

 

Harold Rossiter Reserve caters for a wide range of multi-culturally diverse residents and their friends and family from the surrounding community, who meet regularly to play football, take an exercise class, bird watch, play cricket, walk through the bushland, fly a kite, ride a bike, throw a frisbee, push their kids on the swings, walk dogs off leash, picnic and even walk on a tightrope! On a sunny day, the reserve is a hive of activity. Click on the images below to find out more.

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A FEW QUOTES FROM MEMBERS OF OUR COMMUNITY

 

We asked a few local residents what the Harold Rossiter Reserve means to them and their families.

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