A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the Spaces and Places work that Sport Northland undertakes, including the support we give to other groups to develop the right sports facilities in the right locations across our region.

And because of our experience and expertise in owning and managing sports facilities, there are a few community groups to who have approached Sport Northland with proposals around ownership and governance of their facilities.

In the case of the Bay of Islands Recreation Centre, a proposal from the Kawakawa community in 2015 resulted in Bay of Islands College transferring the ownership and governance of the facility to Sport Northland in 2017, to help ensure operational and long-term sustainability of the centre. Progress-to-date in this respect has been very good.

Following in these footsteps, the Kauri Coast Community Pool Trust approached Sport Northland mid-way through last year with a similar proposal. The trust had been struggling to attract board members and the volunteer nature of their ownership and governance work meant they had not made the progress they desired with the Kaipara District Council (KDC) on a number of issues.

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Sport Northland has undertaken due diligence on the proposal and the facility, and has subsequently reached agreement with both the trust and KDC. Last week we signed an agreement with the trust to transfer ownership and governance of the complex to Sport Northland; and with KDC, who will pay an operational grant and a separate maintenance grant annually to ensure sustainability of the facility.

The day-to-day running of the complex will continue to be undertaken by Community Leisure Management (CLM), who have managed the centre for a number of years now.
The complex, which opened in January 2010, includes a solar-heated 50m outdoor pool (the only one servicing the Northland region), hydrotherapy pool, learn-to-swim pool, grandstand, changing rooms and office/reception area.

It is open from October to March and attracts 23,000 visits annually during this time.
While Sport Northland has no desire to own more and more facilities (as ownership, without the right conditions, can certainly be a liability for a not-for-profit organisation like Sport Northland), we are also aware that we are in a better position than a volunteer trust (or a school as in the Bay of Islands case) to own and govern key community sports facilities.

Both the Kawakawa and Dargaville facilities are also in targeted communities that Sport Northland is working closely with in order to establish active recreation and sport activities that matter to local residents. In both these cases it appears both community facilities do "matter" to locals.

Sport Northland looks forward to working with KDC, CLM and the Dargaville community to increase visitor numbers and to increase the sustainability of the facility in terms of operations and long-term maintenance. It is hoped that part of that sustainability will include a proposal to upgrade the facility to make it more fit-for-purpose into the future.

Watch this space.