SCOUTS Australia has voiced early support for expanding the use of its facilities at Mount Canobolas to grow tourism.
The Central West Off-Road Bicycle Club floated the idea of a mountain bike mecca in February to aid Orange’s post-Electrolux recovery, which quickly gained traction with councillor Reg Kidd.
On Tuesday, councillors Kidd and Russell Turner, and Orange City Council community and cultural services director Scott Maunder met with Scouts Australia NSW chief commissioner Doug Menzies and property manager Bruce Retallick to discuss using the Scouts’ dormitories, kitchen and bathroom facilities as an accommodation option for tourists, as well as allowing recreational vehicles on-site.
The facilities would complement the bicycle club’s Lake Canobolas Mountain Bike Park under construction at the former earth santuary.
“It would only be when the scouts aren’t using it,” Cr Kidd said.
“They were very positive about it. We’re looking at a formal partnership with [NSW National Park and Wildlife Service].”
Mr Menzies will visit Orange on May 30 to inspect the site.
Cr Turner said the council owned the land, but with the Scouts’ lease up in 2018, an agreement for its future needed to be prepared in the meantime.
“Both the council and the scouting association will benefit and an agreement will evolve over the next few months,” he said.
Cr Turner envisaged a council committee would be required down the track to grow Lake Canobolas’ tourism potential.
Central West Off-Road Bicycle Club vice-president Rodney Farrell said the club hoped to run competitions, attracting people from across the country and internationally.
“Orange has untapped potential - as far as mountain biking goes,” he said.
Mr Farrell said fire trails would not attract long-distance visitors.
“People ride mountain bikes for the technical challenge, you need a purpose-built track that’s narrower and windier with more features,” he said.
Environmentally Concerned Citizens of Orange spokesman and councillor Neil Jones said the club presented its plans to the group and were satisfied the recreational activities could be balanced with preserving the natural environment.
Cr Kidd wanted the council to set aside $1 million in the coming financial year to put towards the project, followed by an additional $2 million in the 2015-16 financial year, however, only $31,700 worth of capital works are proposed in the coming financial year.