RAC: Thornlie Spur Rail Line highest priority

RAC Infrastructure Priorities 2016 Fed Election

As Canning’s new and very green Mayor and Councillors move to vote tonight on putting an as yet unfunded $2.25m towards the expansion of a local basketball stadium, that somehow came to loom large as essential infrastructure during the local govt election, more evidence emerges the time is right for our City to work with the state and federal govt to build the Thornlie Spur line that will connect the Armadale and Mandurah railways.

The RAC is now throwing its weight behind the project as the THIRD highest priority of its TOP FIVE recommendations for funding commitments in the upcoming federal election.  It is the only heavy rail line the Club is considering at this time, and adds to the strong endorsements of WA Labor and the Barnett Govt that the Spur is the Word.

The staff at Canning have been working towards inducing this rail line, now key to ensuring the smooth flow of 60,000 people in to and out of the new Perth Stadium, with a second bid for $8,750,000 having just gone in to the National Stronger Regions Fund (NSRF) Round Three to build the Jandakot Airport Eastern Link Road.

The City’s submission places strong emphasis on this road providing “extensive economic growth and development opportunities to the wider business and regional community”.  It will facilitate the increasing importance of Jandakot Airport’s business parks and support the planned $100m Canning Vale Sports Complex, a large ‘Park’n’Ride’ for a new train station on Ranford Road and the Canning Vale Waste Disposal Facility.

A powerful road comes at high cost ($21m) and the City is proposing to fund it in conjunction with the hoped-for grant from the NSRF, to the tune of another $8.7m, with Jandakot Airport Holdings contributing $3.5m.

A three-way split that doesn’t include the state govt should be music to its ears!

But here’s the thing – Canning only has three projects under loan from the WA Treasury Corporation, and all are fully guaranteed:

  1. $12m in order to leave our former troubled rubbish processing operations contract (loan payments built in to rubbish collection fees)
  2. Underground power arrangements (built in to rates)

Another loan would need to be raised to fund our contribution to a road servicing a major economic zone.  The City is rightfully proud of its low level of debt, but that may have to change if we are to meet the challenges of the future, and especially as Canning has another road project being looked at by NSRF, which will essentially make the major road in our developing CBD zone, Cecil Ave, ready for Rapid Bus Transit and eventually light rail ($28m).

The importance and cost of this highest level economic activity for the City does tend to put the potential case for seeking a further loan to expand the $10 to $15m hopes and dreams of the Willetton Basketball Association (WBA) in a lesser light, nonetheless going in to debt to fund it the Council may well commit us too.

A quick look at the WBA’s financials reveals it has an operating surplus circa $100,000 a year, which would make repayment of $2.25m a very long stretch, and extend considerably beyond its current 15 year lease period.

Choices, and more choices.