It's strange for a city so proud of its sporting culture to turn playing fields into a road and condemn residents to a fatter, sicker and lonelier future.
In the week before Christmas the Victorian Government offered a $15 million "shut up and go away" package to the City of Melbourne "as compensation for disruptions the East West Link project will cause" to sporting clubs in Royal Park (Herald Sun, 19/12/13).
At least nine clubs and thousands of players will be directly affected in the short term. Many more will be if the project goes ahead. Over nine hectares of the most valuable parkland owned by the City of Melbourne will be lost in Royal Park alone.
The $15 million Christmas gift to the City of Melbourne won't create any new open space, or address health, social cohesion and recreation challenges faced by a growing city needing more open space and sporting fields.
The East West tunnel will reduce the supply of open space and sporting fields when more is needed.
Even without the East West Tunnel the City of Melbourne expects to face a shortfall of 10 Aussie Rule ovals, 12 cricket fields, and 12 soccer pitches over the next 16 years.
The Victorian Government must commit to meeting this and other shortfalls in Moreland and Moonee Valley where demand for sporting fields is outstripping supply.
I've been a volunteer with Youlden-Parkville Cricket Club, one of Royal Park's community sporting clubs, for 15 years.
Over the last five years our club has been transformed by grabbing opportunities created by a growing population.
Even though participation in cricket across the state has been in decline for the last three years we've more than doubled in size. We now have more junior than senior teams. Our program for boys and girls aged 5 to 10 years increased by 55% in 2013.
Our junior and senior programs will get bigger.
Between 2011 and 2030 the City of Melbourne's population is expected to grow from 98 000 to 181 000. Populations will also grow in neighboring municipalities who also use Royal Park for sport and passive recreation.
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