Following a meeting with Minister Rankine and Black Hill Pony Club members, the Minister has given BHPC an extension to 30th June 2011 to vacate the land. It originally had been asked to vacate the land at Woodford by the end of November.
“We are very grateful for the Minister’s decision to give us an extension to vacate the land as we still need to find a new location, agistment for the horses and storage for our equipment. However we are disappointed we are not able to have any portion of the land for our 200 members and other recreational activities use,” comments Kathy Warren, President of BHPC. “We had requested a small portion of land, similar to the size given to Rostrevor College earlier this year, but unfortunately the Minister would not change her position on the land for the Pony Club, and other community groups looking to utilise the former dump that has been redeveloped by the Pony Club at its own expense.”
Many organisations recently wrote to the Premier supporting the Club, including last weekend’s Adelaide International winner, Wendy Schaeffer who won her first Olympic gold medal as a 16-yr old pony clubber. Other organisations include: Olympic medal winners, Gillian Rolton and Megan Jones, Horse SA, Pony Club Association of South Australia, Riding for the Disabled (RDA) and Equestrian South Australia. Letters of support can be downloaded at www.blackhillponyclub.com.
The Club had also been liaising with other organisations including Walking SA and Bike SA with an aim of opening up the land for more of the community to use. RDA is in desperate need of a facility in the eastern part of the CBD to offer riders with disabilities and this site is perfect if it can be retained by the Pony Club. RDA member, Grace Bowman, recently represented Australia at the RDA World Championships overseas.
All the horses will have to be vacated early next year, as testing on the land and other earthworks begin, although some members have already sold their animals as they could not afford the time and money which will be incurred with agisting them further away. The BHPC site was previously a dump full of car bodies, scrap metal and thousands of bricks. Countless hours of manual and mechanical labour, at a great financial cost to BHPC, was used to transform the land to what it is today.
“Unfortunately too, the land is no longer Crown land, which it was when BHPC first occupied the land, so all our relocation costs will be at our own expense,” adds Kathy. “We are very saddened our plans of making the land into a recreational centre for walkers and cyclists to enjoy are not able to be a realisation – near city open space for the whole of the community to enjoy is a rare occurrence and appears to be a luxury only a few can enjoy now.”
The equine community is not giving up; it will continue the fight for not only BHPC but also the other community groups such as RDA, Walk SA and Bike SA.