No end in sight for the woes of the Life Saving Club

THE SAGA between Bass Coast Shire and Wonthaggi Life Saving Club (WLSC) continues as the club has been prevented from undertaking many of its summer activities.

The debacle began after the club’s old facilities were badly damaged beyond repair in an extreme storm in May 2019.

In November 2019, it was agreed that the clubhouse facilities would be demolished and replaced with temporary facilities, while a new clubhouse was built.

However, there have been significant delays due to COVID and subsequent lockdowns in 2020.

With the demolition of their old site complete, temporary facilities using retired portable classrooms were installed and work was underway to upgrade them, allowing the club to continue operating in time for the 2022 summer season.

However, according to the WLSC, in August last year the Bass Coast Shire Building Department, through the Municipal Building Surveyor, issued a stop work notice finding that the facilities were not were not temporary but permanent.

As a result, the club has since had to apply for updated permits to meet new processes and requirements, including proving that the pitch, public toilets and parking meet disability requirements.

The club spent nearly $50,000 on engineers and consultants to respond to the 12-page notice, and could spend another $200,000 to convert the portable building into a permanent facility, which will be removed once the new facilities are completed at the over the next two years. .

Chairman Mark Scott said the club had sent a response to the board after resolving issues raised in the construction notice.

“We had to bring in access consultants, structural and building engineers and architects to fix the issues because the facility was already in place,” he said.

“We had to go back and re-examine the concerns raised; while our problem is the fact that we have already gone through a two-year, seven-month process, planning with the county and its representatives.

“It’s all just in limbo; we have to wait and see what happens.

Mr Scott said the nearly three-year process had taken a toll on the club and had severely disrupted its summer activities and programmes.

“We still have weeks of work ahead of us, and we have lost income and community
engagement,” he said.

“It’s constant barrier after barrier,” he said.

Additionally, Mr Scott said that with no facilities to use, they cannot take part in the upcoming Experience Cape Paterson festival this weekend as well.

A spokesperson for the council said the council is responsible for ensuring construction work complies with the building act and relevant codes.

“It is the responsibility of the WLSC to engage a private building surveyor to issue planning permission for this work,” the spokesperson said.

“While we understand all the great work and community contribution that members of the Wonthaggi Life Saving Club make to Bass Coast, the council has a duty under the Building Act to issue notices execution of the construction to bring the buildings into conformity.

“Building permit requirements ensure that the minimum level required for safety, health, amenities, accessibility and sustainability is achieved for new buildings.

“The Wonthaggi Life Saving Club ‘portable’ building is classified as Australian Building Code Class 9b (public building) and is considered prescribed building work requiring planning permission.

“The construction (moving) of this building and associated construction work, including wood decking and excavations, was carried out without a building permit.

“Council officers will continue to work with the Wonthaggi Life Saving Club and Life Saving Victoria to resolve this issue.”

The club had received $4.5 million in state government funding for its new building, along with $175,000 for a temporary facility and $45,000 to support its application after receiving the construction notice.

MP for Bass Jordan Crugnale said separately from work underway to establish a temporary facility, the Community Safety Building Authority recently agreed to undertake project management of the permanent facility.

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