Katanning Leisure Centre set for emergency generator after Katanning Rotary receives unexpected $96k grant

Headshot of Sean Van Der Wielen
Sean Van Der WielenGreat Southern Herald
Katanning Rotary president Alan McFarland outside the Katanning Leisure Centre on Monday.
Camera IconKatanning Rotary president Alan McFarland outside the Katanning Leisure Centre on Monday. Credit: Sean Van Der Wielen/Great Southern Herald

Katanning is set to be better equipped to deal with emergencies after unexpected funding was secured for a back-up generator at the Katanning Leisure Centre.

The leisure centre will soon be fitted with a 500kVA emergency diesel generator after the Katanning Rotary Club obtained a $96,000 grant from the Rotary Australia Relief Fund.

Katanning Rotary Club president Alan McFarland said the need for the generator had been highlighted by the bushfire which impacted the town in February 2020.

“We knew there were some things that we lacked and we needed to do something about that,” he said.

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The leisure centre was identified by the Katanning, Kent and Woodanilling local emergency management committee last year as a potential regional welfare centre in the case of a major emergency.

While the centre has recently received upgrades to its public internet facilities, a lack of a back-up power supply had been noted as a deficiency at the site.

After inquiries were made about the generator, it was estimated it would cost the Shire of Katanning between $152,000 and $203,000 to buy and install.

Councillors debated the merits of buying the generator during last financial year’s budget deliberations, but the project was not progressed after the shires of Kent and Woodanilling declined to contribute.

The Katanning Rotary Club applied for the funding after speaking to Shire of Katanning community emergency services manager Cindy Pearce about the need for the generator.

Mr McFarland said they were notified of their success grant application by Rotary Australia Relief Fund’s projects and volunteers manager Merv Williams.

“It was just out of the blue,” he said.

“We were very happy about it. I think it took the Shire by surprise.”

Mr McFarland said the generator would be essential for maintaining communications in the town in an emergency.

“The biggest drama we have whenever there is an emergency like floods or fire is we lose power, and once we lose power, we lose communications,” he said.

“The main thing here is now everyone has got mobile phones, communications and the internet will be up and running still, so it’s a very important thing.”

“If it’s there and working, you don’t even notice it but if it’s not there, you notice.”

It is the first time the club has sourced funding for a project outside of its own local fundraising efforts.

While the grant will cover most of the $105,000 cost of buying the generator, it is expected to cost the council about $60,000 to get it installed and operational.

Councillors have already approved the shortfall being made up by funds in the Katanning Leisure Centre Facilities Reserve.

Shire chief executive Julian Murphy said procurement delays meant it was not certain when the generator would be operational, but he hoped it would be ready for summer.

Despite his club’s significant contribution to the project, Mr McFarland said he hoped the generator would not be needed.

“I wouldn’t have even known how important it was until you actually experience it and go through the dramas that we went through,” he said.

“Hopefully you’ll never need it, but if it’s there, it’s there.”

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