BALLARAT City Council was forced to spend $30,000 to fly in an international consultant to oversee emergency works on the Lake Wendouree rowing course, official documents reveal.
In February this year, council officers sought assistance from New Zealand-based consultant Chris Johnson after concerns about the state of the course were raised by participants in the National Canoeing Championships.
Documents released to The Courier under Freedom of Information laws detail concerns Mr Johnson raised on February 14, including that the poor state of the course would require work to be conducted seven days a week until the March 4 Head of the Lake event.
Mr Johnson was paid $29,250 for his services.
He warned council officers that contractors working on the rowing course and weed removal were under resourced and should be subject to daily supervision.
In an email on March 13, he raised concerns about contractor Buoyage Systems Australia with major projects manager Ian Crossley.
“The negative publicity generated following the canoe event and the unwillingness of the contractor to prepare a work program for the run up was disappointing.”
Mr Johnson listed more than 20 areas of concern and said the City of Ballarat should consider reviewing payment until checks were carried out.
“The contractor was under resourced in all respects. The installation of the course ... was reasonably straight. Major components were missing, which if installed would have greatly improved the look,” he said.
Buoyage Systems Australia manager Maggie Marriot declined to respond to statements from Mr Johnson included in the documents yesterday.
“BSA is at present finalising a full report on the installation, to an international standard, of the Lake Wendouree rowing course, for council officers, council members, relevant bodies and interested parties,” she said.
In February, an email from Ms Marriot to City of Ballarat councillors objecting to Mr Johnson’s oversight of the project was obtained by The Courier.
Mayor Mark Harris yesterday defended the decision to engage Mr Johnson and said the course was at an international standard for competitions including the Australian rowing masters.
The City of Ballarat declined to release 13 documents relevant to the project on the grounds they contained commercially sensitive information.