By HARRY CLARKE
A MAJOR arts project touted by the Western Downs Regional Council as its biggest infrastructure spend in a “very, very long time” has been cancelled.
The Dalby library, MyALL 107, was to undergo a $14 million redevelopment to convert the site into a multipurpose cinema, theatre, library, dining and entertainment precinct, but proceeding with the project has now been deemed too unsafe because of defects found within the existing building.
At a special meeting this morning, councillors decided to cancel the project because of “significant structural failings” at MyALL 107 which only became apparent after works began in October last year.
A “stop work order” was issued while an engineering report was prepared for the council. The report has now recommended the redevelopment be discontinued.
The $14 million cost of the project was being split evenly between the WDRC and the Federal Government under its Building Better Regions fund.
It remains undecided whether, when and how the money will be redistributed to other council infrastructure projects.
Last October mayor Paul McVeigh was joined by Maranoa MP David Littleproud and representatives from contractor FKQ and Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprises to turn the first sod at the would-be construction site on the Warrego Highway.
But within barely four months construction will cease and the library building will be demolished.
FULL STATEMENT: Western Downs Regional Council
Western Downs Regional Council has today made the decision to cancel the planned MyALL107 redevelopment after a report found significant structural failings throughout the existing building.
A stop work order was issued in mid-December after discoveries were made during construction which called into question the structural integrity of the building and safety of the worksite.
A report was immediately commissioned to investigate the extent of the structural issues, which has subsequently found significant failings in the building’s core foundations, walls, and roofing.
MyALL 107 was originally built in the 1980s and has undergone several refurbishments to suit a variety of community uses over the past 40 years. Many of the structural defects would not have been found without stripping back the structure.
Mayor Paul McVeigh said Council was left with no choice but to make the site safe and terminate the construction contract for the redevelopment.
“Council’s absolute priority is ensuring the site is made safe, which ultimately means the existing structure will have to be demolished,” Cr McVeigh said.
“As the redevelopment was based on a refit of the existing structure, it would not be safe, feasible, or financially responsible to proceed with the current project, so Council has acted swiftly to cancel the contract and prevent any further risk or cost to the community.”
The MyALL 107 Redevelopment Project involved a revitalisation of the current structure which included upgrading the library and cinema and creating new indoor and outdoor recreational facilities for the community.
Cr McVeigh said while this was disappointing, it presented an opportunity to reconsider the project in its entirety and work with the community to come up with a solution that will suit Dalby and the wider Western Downs’s needs now, and into the future.
“Our only priority at this stage is ensuring the site is made safe, then any decisions about future possibilities for the site will be considered in partnership with the community,” he said.
“I can acknowledge the community may be disappointed the project cannot continue as planned, but I can assure residents that we will work with them to come up with an even better outcome for our region.”
FKG Group will now commence works to make the site safe, which is expected to take around two months.