ALONG with the first frost and the first tickets on sale for the Bathurst 1000, a marker of the passing of the year is the annual argument about the RYDA program at Mount Panorama.
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The argument looked to have been run and won this year when council decided that it would not offer a reduction in hire fees for the pit complex for the Rotary Youth Driver Awareness (RYDA) program in 2022.
But it turned out the story wasn't quite finished.
The matter returned to council at its June meeting, where a majority of councillors supported a move to waive up to $5000 of the hire fees - though not long-time incumbents Warren Aubin, Graeme Hanger and Ian North.
It would be tempting to consider the argument closed until it inevitably flares again next year, but the time has well and truly come to settle this matter one way or the other.
Precious energy is expended on both sides - from RYDA organisers, who feel that a program with such an important ambition deserves support from council through a reduction in fees; and from some (though not all) within council, who believe any group wanting to hire out the pit complex should be treated the same as any other - that would surely be better spent elsewhere.
Precious energy is also expended trying to decide on the parameters that should be used when judging the program's use of the complex.
Is it purely a financial decision?
Is it a matter of fairness for other groups wanting to hire the complex
Is it a public relations decision for council?
Is it a matter of supporting a social good?
And if the RYDA program is paying (reduced) fees to use a complex that would otherwise be unused at that time, is it really a problem for council at all?
As has been pointed out before, council is not being asked to write out a cheque.
RYDA organisers need the certainty of a long-term home for their program and council needs a careful, considered and settled answer to this question that continues to come up.
And what are the chances of that?
Well, the drawn-out nature of the argument this year might just be the spur that is needed to find a resolution - and, if that's the case, it's got to be the best thing for both sides.
It's time to sort this out.
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