On Tuesday night Orange City Council approved the 2020-2021 budget.
Included in that budget is an allocation of $500 000 for further development of the proposal to construct mountain bike infrastructure within the Mount Canobolas State Conservation Area.
As a business proposition, this investment is fraught with risk.
There's a number of confronting obstacles to its success.
One such obstacle is the opposition to the project from environmental groups within the Central West and beyond.
Attempts to pursue this project could result in protracted and expensive conflict.
Opposition is well founded, based on evidence of the environmental and ecological uniqueness and significance of the SCA, and the damage which would be caused by track construction.
This has been provided by internationally recognised local environmental experts and the results of the 2019 flora and fauna surveys conducted by National Parks and local volunteers.
Given this evidence and the environmental conditions of consent required by the Mount Canobolas State Conservation Area Plan of Management, it is difficult to see how any form of submission for a mountain bike track could be given approval.
To further pursue the project could result in an investment of half a million dollars of ratepayers money in a proposal that is likely to be unsuccessful.
A lot of money to be spent for an uncertain outcome.
Orange City Council is proposing to spend money on a project, the site of which is located within the Cabonne Local Government Area and is controlled by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
In effect it is proposing to invest our money on a site that it doesn't own and does not control.
This would appear to be a risky environment for investment.
There are alternatives to developing cycling in the Orange district which are far less problematic, environmentally acceptable and more inclusive of the wider cycling community.
One such proposal is the exciting new 360 Project which was announced in this Wednesday's Central Western Daily.
This proposal seeks to partner with the NSW Government to promote cycling as a local tourist attraction.
It proposes to do this through the development of cycle friendly road networks that connect destinations in Cabonne, Blayney and Orange.
It also seeks to enhance existing Orange cycling links with on road trails to towns and villages in the three local government areas.
A much better investment than a cycle track on Mount Canobolas.
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