More than three decades after the world came to Sydney’s west in 2000, Penrith once again is a chance of hosting an Olympic Games event in 2032.
While Brisbane won the right to host the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2021, a push from passionate locals up north is underway for Penrith Whitewater Stadium to be used in place of Birkdale as the host venue for canoe slalom events.
According to Redland City News, a publication servicing the Redlands community, pleas for a change of venue were contained in public submissions to a senate inquiry into Australia’s preparedness to host the Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth Games.
Lavinia Wood, from Community Alliance for Responsible Planning Redlands, is just one of the people calling for the Queensland Government to reconsider building a multi-million dollar Whitewater facility in Brisbane’s south and instead hand the hosting rights to Penrith – 950km away.
The State and Federal governments have already committed funding to build the facility at Birkdale, with Redland City Council responsible for its ongoing maintenance.
Wood’s parliamentary petition on the matter, which addresses the Speaker and members of the Legislative Assembly of Queensland, has amassed nearly 1500 signatures in just three weeks of going online.
“Queensland residents draws to the attention of the House that the $100 million Olympic Whitewater Stadium proposed on land at Birkdale is not supported by the people of Redlands,” Woods said in the petition.
“The Redlands community did not ask for it and they do not want it. It is an idea of Redland City Council’s own making.
“The International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) ‘New Norm’ policy tells us not to build new facilities and instead use existing ones – even in another country – because white elephant Olympic facilities are financially crushing Host Cities worldwide.”
Wood ended the petition by saying the Redlands community want nature, conservation, and heritage protection of the 62-hectre Birkdale Community Precinct.
“Your petitioners, therefore, request the House to do all in its power to prevent the Birkdale land in Redland City as the site for the Brisbane 2032 Olympic Whitewater Stadium and designate the existing Penrith Whitewater Stadium the 2032 Olympic Canoe Slalom venue,” Wood said.
Interestingly, back in April, various representatives from Queensland were in town on special assignment to visit Penrith Whitewater Stadium and learn as much as they can about the former Olympic venue before they build their own ahead of the 2032 Games.
Members of the Queensland State Government, Redland City Council and various consultants involved in developing the Redland Whitewater Centre toured the facility, aiming to capture learnings as well as meet with experts from the sport of paddling.
The Weekender reached out to a local high profile paddling figure as well as Penrith City Council and the NSW Office of Sport for comment but all three declined.
Penrith Whitewater Stadium is currently undergoing a multi-million upgrade of its own in preparation for the 2025 ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships.
From July 1, the NSW Office of Sport will take over management of Penrith Whitewater Stadium from Penrith Council.
Nathan Taylor is the Weekender’s Deputy Editor and Senior Sports Writer. He also compiles the weekly Chatter on the Box TV column. Nathan is an award-winning journalist, who has worked at the Weekender for a decade.