Kalbarri committee concerned over lack of progress on proposed multipurpose community evacuation centre

Jessica MoroneyMidwest Times
Kalbarri, Western Australia.
One year on from cyclone Seroja.
Camera IconKalbarri, Western Australia. One year on from cyclone Seroja. Credit: Simon Santi/The West Australian

A committee in Kalbarri is concerned a proposed evacuation centre for the community, which is still in the process of rebuilding from last year’s cyclone Seroja, will be put on the backburner as Shire-appointed architects have yet to provide a concept planning report.

After the devastation wrecked by Seroja in April 2021, which forced many Kalbarri locals to travel to Dongara for emergency relief, plans were put in motion for a multipurpose community centre, which could act as an evacuation centre in case of another emergency.

The Shire of Northampton put out ideas to build an evacuation centre, and sports and community members in town got involved.

Kalbarri Multipurpose Centre committee chairman Rick Davey said the Shire had employed a Geraldton architect firm to design the complex but the company hadn’t met the given timeline.

“It became glaringly obvious that Kalbarri doesn’t have a reasonable evacuation place, and we’re lucky (cyclone Seroja) travelled fast and no one was injured. We need better services here in case of emergency,” he said.

“The architect’s timeline for the ideas would be the first weekend of April, and the first week in May was when they would start costing.”

Mr Davey said the committee was concerned the design project would be “put on the back burner” and nothing would come of it.

“The town is struggling at the moment — we’re losing accommodation, the people that service our restaurants and bars — it just seems like a long time for anything to be repaired,” he said.

“People of Kalbarri are waiting for things to happen and nothing is happening — this is something that could brighten the attitude of the town.”

Mr Davey said without consultation the building design may not include facilities the town needed, and it was important the committee could offer input towards the project.

Shire of Northampton CEO Garry Keeffe said the building was a long time away and the architecture company, Eastman Poletti Sherwood, was not expected to have completed any concept planning paperwork by a particular date.

“We’re still waiting on the concept, the building will be about three or four years away yet,” he said.

Mr Keeffe said the company was most likely under pressure, but couldn’t confirm if it was due to Australia’s labour shortage.

“There are only two architects in Geraldton, they are probably flat out,” he said.

The committee want the multipurpose centre to include sports courts, including basketball, netball, indoor cricket, crochet as well as more office space for conferences, entertainment functions and to expand the library.

Eastman Poletti Sherwood has been contacted for comment.

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