Two million rand has been set aside by the City of Cape Town to assess development priorities for Strandfontein Pavilion and surrounds.
The allocation of R2 million in the January adjustment budget is for a first planning phase upgrade, followed by further allocations for construction overcoming budget cycles to restore the Strandfontein Pavilion to its former glory, said the mayor of Cape Town, Geordin Hill-Lewis.
Deputy mayor Eddie Andrews, who is also the mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment, said the funding is to initiate an assessment of potential sustainable development priorities in the Strandfontein precinct.
The current adjustment budget allocation does not include construction projects at this stage. Further capital budget allocations will be made in the new financial year from July this year for a broader upgrade and development initiative, said Mr Andrews.
“During the clean-up campaign (”Mayor’s campaign to keep the city clean launched in ’Plain“, Plainsman,February 9”), I visited one of the iconic Cape Town spots – Strandfontein Pavilion. I was shocked by its condition. It is now officially a condemned building,” said Mr Hill-Lewis.
“We should not allow our public facilities to ever deteriorate to this point. Every resident deserves to be able to visit quality, beautiful public facilities that show Cape Town’s commitment to excellence and inclusivity,” said Mr Hill-Lewis.
“A relatively modest allocation in this budget is also one I am most excited about. We are going to rebuild the Pavilion. When it is done, every ’Plainsman’ and ’Plainswoman’ will be able to enjoy a Pavilion that they can feel proud of,” he said.
In recent years Strandfontein Pavilion has been in the spotlight with various stakeholders voicing dissatisfaction with the deterioration of the facility.
In 2017, hundreds of people descended on Strandfontein Pavilion, worried about the safety of Fisherman’s Lane as the crumbling road at the Pavilion has deteriorated even more (“Residents in a rage about road”, Plainsman, October 11, 2017).
In 2019, the City of Cape Town said a structural investigation is needed to ascertain the extent of the necessary remedial work or demolition at Strandfontein Pavilion (“Structural investigation needed for pavilion”, Plainsman, April 3, 2019).
In October last year, Strandfontein Pavilion’s tidal pool was closed because of a sewage spill caused by a malfunction at the Spine Road pump station, (“Sewage spill closes tidal pool”, Plainsman, October 6, 2021).
Towards the end of October last year, the City confirmed that the Strandfontein Pavilion beach and tidal pool reopened after two sewage spills in recent weeks (“Strandfontein Pavilion open again”, Plainsman, October 20, 2021).
Danny Christians, Ward 79 councillor (Rocklands and parts of Portland) said he has been the forerunner and champion for Strandfontein Pavilion’s upgrade and development.
He said he is happy and thankful for the funds for the Pavilion’s upgrade. “I’ve been fighting for commercial activity, a commercial hub that connects the façade of the Pavilion. The Pavilion has a beautiful history, which I want to revisit. I have plans drawn up since the 1970s, to have our coast upgraded to its former glory,” Mr Christians said.
He said there is a population explosion in the Pavilion vicinity. More people have moved into the area and there is very little for them to enjoy. “Some would rather spend their money and time in other areas. It’s economical unfairness. I’ve been fighting 36 years of my life to have these facilities upgraded along the coast,” he said.
He said people should also take ownership of “what was once ours”. “This became a forgotten heritage, dying a slow death due to the low maintenance of the Strandfontein Pavilion. We have a sovereign right to the coast. We were placed on the coast, we’re prohibited to live on the coast such as beachfront opportunities,” said Mr Christians.
Igshaan Carstens, founder of Strandfontein Agricultural, Aqua Marine and Boating Association (SAAMBA), said he welcomes and appreciates the funds but it’s barely enough to do some maintenance on the remaining accessible areas of the building. “Notwithstanding the non-accessible areas that have been condemned, declared dangerous for human use and habitat by the building inspectorate of the City,” he said.
“As to restoring it to its former glory – it’s a conversation that has been exhausted and discarded more than a decade ago when that City-owned public facility has gone structurally into decay,” said Mr Carstens.
A totally new mindset and approach is needed, devoid of any previously ingrained politically-driven agendas like the Apartheid spatial planning, he said.
“Professionals from the various areas of engineering in biodiversity, marine, construction, hospitality and tourism, social dynamics, need to be brought in and then restart this process of rebuilding this coastal space from the ground up, meaning this whole condemned building must be demolished and a brand-new Strandfontein Waterfront must be built,” said Mr Carstens.
Mr Carstens said “the community at large on the beautiful False Bay coastal zone has been ignored” in terms of not being consulted on matters that are directly impacting them.
“This marginalisation speaks of utter disrespect again. The input of the majority of the users of these facilities will greatly add value to this venture,” said Mr Carstens.
Keith Blake, retired police captain and community leader and activist, who is one of the many fisherfolk who frequents this stretch of the False Bay coastline, said he would welcome the rebuilding of the Strandfontein Pavilion.
However, Mr Blake also pointed out that Strandfontein Pavilion is not the only issue but that toilet facilities along the False Bay coastline, from Sunrise Circle through to Macassar’s end, have been destroyed. It is not a pretty sight, he said.
“Once the toilets are restored to that of a lovely waterfront, people of the Cape Flats and the fisherfolk will benefit from this. The toilets have to be restored, especially for the dignity of women,” Mr Blake said.
“The City has to put their hands on deck and restore what was destroyed, get more workers, more cleaning staff and safety officers patrolling the area as much as possible. This would begin to lift a load the community has been challenged with,” said Mr Blake.
Nigel Savel, founder of the 9Miles Project, said they are greatly encouraged to hear about the planning phase for the refurbishment of Strandfontein Pavilion, “which has long been a home for our youth and community programmes”.
The 9Miles Project provides safe spaces and structured after-school programmes for impoverished and vulnerable children in marginalised communities and make use of the Strandfontein Pavilion, beach and spaces (“Newly-renovated youth development centre for 9Miles Project”, Plainsman, December 1, 2021).
“We welcome the investment for the much-needed upgrade, which will make the Pavilion safe and attractive for the surrounding communities, and will encourage positive recreational activities,” said Mr Savel.