THE demolition of East Perth’s Banks Reserve Pavilion has been stayed for a second time as regular users of the community hall made an impassioned plea to Vincent councillors not to bowl it over.
The pavilion was due to be demolished on July 20, but regular hall users fronted Vincent council’s agenda briefing session this week to make an impassioned plea for its retention.
The council argues the hall is expensive to get up to code and maintain and has low use, which is disputed by those who used it.
Wendy Herring taught yoga at the hall before being turfed out last year after the first Covid lockdown, and attended the briefing to make a case for the pavilion staying.
“My heart goes out to everyone who can’t use the centre anymore, it’s like the heart has been ripped out of the community,” she said.
“There is no low cost community halls available in this area.
“I had been teaching at Banks for a couple of years, and had a really good clientele.”
She had to close during lockdown and a couple of days before she was due to pick up the keys and reopen, the council called her “informing me that [the pavilion] was to be demolished and no one could use the centre.
“This came as a big shock to me. I tried to find a venue… there was nothing available. I no longer have the group of students, after 12 years of having that business it no longer exists.”
Ms Herring said “my eldest student is 88 years old and she used to walk to class … most of my students are 60-plus.
“I do believe Banks is the same sort of vintage as me, and I’m certainly not ready to be knocked over and pushed down. Sixty years old is not very old, and for me as a 60-year-old woman to go out and find a job doing something else has been really difficult.”
A privately owned early learning and childcare centre also operated there and its rent covered a lot of the hall’s costs before Vincent council ended the lease. Vincent did not count it as a “community use” in their usage stats because it was privately owned.
Resident Caroline Cohen said: “It was very sad when the City of Vincent chose to not renew the lease the little school had over this building … I know it was termed a ‘private use’ for this building, but these are children who live in the community, so it’s also a community use”.
One of the council’s justifications for not redeveloping the building was “as the pavilion is located in a riverbank flood zone, the likelihood of having a development or building application approved for major improvements or changes is low”.
That didn’t wash with former councillor Dudley Maier, who pointed out; “the building is located in what is called the flood fringe,” and only the less-beloved toilet block was in the more wet-prone “floodway”.
“Interestingly, part of the East Perth Power station is also located in the flood fringe, so somebody better tell Andrew Forrest and Kerry Stokes before they put any money into that,” he said.
Resident and artist Leon Pericles has prepared a petition and an alternative proposal to revive the hall to put to council before the next meeting, hoping they’ll rescind the demolition plan.
His petition says: “Community support is so great that we have already compiled a very long list of respected professionals that will donate their time and expertise to launching the space with free classes, seminars and workshops.