Ballina Youth Camp fears for future
By MARY MANN
BALLINA may soon be locked out of Gunundi Anglican Youth Camp a facility which has provided education and enjoyment to the community for the past 40 years.
The Anglican Diocese of Grafton fears the Department of Lands will not renew its licence to access the centre via a track over neighbouring Crown land, off Shelley Beach Road.
It is currently the only access point to the facility. Reverend Pat Comben, of the Anglican Diocese of Grafton, says if the licence is not renewed, the centre will be left useless.
"What is the point of having the centre if no-one can access it?" he said.
According to the Diocese, the licence agreement would not be renewed beyond February, 2008.
However, the Department of Lands yesterday said it had not provided advice to the Diocese that an extension of the licence would not be considered.
It did, however, state that it would prefer the Diocese did not use the land for access.
Lands spokesperson John McClymont said the track in use by the centre is not a legal public road.
"For this reason access has always been temporary and the licence holder has been advised since 1998 to negotiate legal access with Ballina Shire Council using public roads," he said.
"It is the Department's view that valuable public Crown land should not be sacrificed for private access purposes when other practical and legal access options are available."
Rev Comben said the church was considering taking the matter to the Supreme Court in hope of a declaration that it is entitled to use the land for access to the site.
"The church's advisors believe that only one access is genuinely viable (across the Lands Department vacant land)," Rev Comben said.
"A half-million dollar makeover of the Gunundi Youth Camp and Conference Centre is being jeopardised."
Council's general manager Paul Hickey said the council's preference was for the Department to formalise the access over Crown land.
Access off The Coast Road was inappropriate as it was a high traffic flow area, he said.