What I would do if I was a councillor of our great city?

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Opinion Ballarat Courier 19 April 2015

If you haven’t noticed, troche our central business district (CBD) is dying. It is essential that the council and the state government focus and prioritise on revitalising the CBD as a place to do business, visit this shop, entertain and live.

Added to this, I need to ask why does Council operate 125 businesses? Council must review its role and what core services it should be providing to the community in the short and long term.

With an impending rate cap, Council must manage within its budget and look for other funding sources to support new projects that are worthy but would not be considered its ‘bread and butter’ business.

Now, to my list of what I would do if I was a councillor of this once-great city.

Civic Hall

Spend whatever is necessary to make it usable and reopen it to the public. Allow the Save the Civic Hall group to prove how the hall can be operated sustainably through a mix of community and commercial uses.

Eureka Stadium

Recommend to the state government that it shelve the $25 million plan. The AFL will not play major games in Ballarat. It is focused on expanding in Tasmania and overseas, in particular, developing the game in New Zealand.

Entertainment and convention facilities must be developed in the CBD with ease of access to public transport.

The Northern Oval should only be developed for continued VFL use, and this should be done in tandem with the potential of enhancing the Eastern Oval.

Ballarat Railway Station

The transport hub at the station must happen as soon as possible, with a reliable regional fast-train service as a priority. A hotel complex should not be built at the station.

The state government should focus on supporting Sovereign Hill as the site for a four-star hotel, which Sovereign Hill has been planning for many years.

The old goods sheds at the station must be re-used as a creative industries incubator, these new industries will generate jobs and underpin much of the future prosperity of our city. Many of them will need access to public transport so the station location is ideal.

Visitor Information Centre (VIC)

It must be located in the north platform building of the station, with a transport plan for ingress and egress to Mair Street and Creswick Road.

Council must also reveal the actual cost of relocating staff from the Town Hall to the Gordon – and the annual rental payments for using this building – to make way for the VIC to move into the Town Hall, which I don’t believe is the appropriate place for the VIC (refer previous comments regarding the use of the north platform at the station).

Ballarat West Employment Zone

This must be supported, but not at the expense of CBD revitalisation and growth.

MADE

Council has failed to deliver a centre of excellence that commemorates and celebrates Eureka and its legacy – our democracy. The state government must intervene and create MADE as a statutory body and manage this place of significance and our Australian story as a fourth museum under the tutelage of Museums Victoria. Also the potential of a partnership between MADE and the Gold Museum for sustainability should be considered as well.

Saleyards

Immediately revamp the existing Latrobe Street saleyards to ensure appropriate animal welfare standards are maintained and keep the operation there until a needs analysis is undertaken to ascertain what the future needs of livestock sales will be, particularly in light of the rapidly growing trend of online direct-farm sales.

The analysis will need to investigate whether saleyards are still required and, if so, do they belong in Ballarat, or should they be relocated to a surrounding municipality where a new site would better serve the farming community.

Showgrounds

They also must stay where they are for the time being on Creswick Road until a needs analysis is done to determine their future relevance and benefit to the Ballarat community.

If they are to be kept, should they be relocated to an outer area of the municipality like Dowling Forest, or a surrounding municipality rather than occupy a more central position in the urban locality that has been proposed.

Black Hill Pool

Reopen it then engage extensively with the community on the future of aquatic recreation in Ballarat.

Ballarat children must be able to have access to pools so as they can learn to swim.

Considering the number of lakes, dams and other aquatic environments in Ballarat and surrounds, not to mention the proximity of the Surf Coast beaches, it’s vital that children be confident in their swimming skills.

A re-introduction of ‘The Courier’s Learn to Swim’ campaign could help our children to be confident in the water.

Her Majesty’s Theatre

Seek funding immediately from the state and federal governments for the $25 million upgrade to make Her Majesty’s a 21st-century performance facility.

In truth, it is Ballarat’s turn to have a major funding boost for the performing arts given that Bendigo and Geelong have recently been the recipients of much largesse.

Council should also seek a partnership with Federation University’s performing arts program, which could maximise opportunities and minimise costs, particularly capital and recurrent, through a shared arrangement in the use of Her Majesty’s Theatre.

Art Gallery of Ballarat

It costs the community in excess of $1.7 million annually to operate the gallery. Similar to HMT, a partnership with Federation University’s visual arts program could maximise opportunities and minimise costs through an arrangement that provides the students with use and access to the gallery’s facilities.

My proposal, I believe, will realise millions of dollars in savings so as to be able to manage within a rate-capped budget but still ensure economic growth and prosperity for our city.

I call on councillors and the community to make comment.

 

Ron Egeberg

Categories: Council
This post was written by , posted on August 29, 2015 Saturday at 9:13 am

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