Letter to Ballarat City Council

OFF

5 June 2015

Draft Ballarat Strategy, malady
City of Ballarat, visit this site
PO Box 655,
Ballarat Victoria, 3353

 

Dear Sirs/ Madams

BALLARAT STRATEGY SUBMISSION 2015

I feel compelled at the outset to this submission to voice my concern regarding the proposition in the strategy of Ballarat as the ‘capital of western Victoria’, the suggestion of a ‘regional capital fund’ and reference to our ‘regional neighbours’, all of which suggests support to the wider region.

However, Cr Des Hudson is quoted in The Ballarat Courier Friday 29 May 2015 stating that Ballarat stands to lose $190 million if the saleyards are not built within the city. Since when and why can’t development and employment benefits cross municipal boundaries? Why is Council being so insular and single minded towards the region of which we are the so called ‘capital’?

Ballarat City Council needs to place a reality and practicality check over this strategy, not to mention a review of sustainable long-term outcomes for all projects.

I am also surprised that there is yet no economic strategy as an overarching long-term sustainable plan, a key driver for the future.

Now, to the issues which concern me:

1. The Business of Council

When will Council review its role? 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.

Added to this, I need to ask why does Council operate over 100 businesses? Council must review its role and what core services it should be providing to the community in the short and long term.

2. Public Transport

I applaud the support for public transport even though there is not a sustainable transport strategy.

3. The Central Business District

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

A united, cooperative approach to the rail station and Civic Hall precincts – and the other, broader CBD precincts of commerce, entertainment, the arts and university – is essential to develop Ballarat as a creative centre of excellence in Victoria, and thus contribute to the city’s long-term sustainability.

4. The Civic Hall

Why is there no mention of the Civic Hall in the documentation? It is a key precinct in the CBD, hence its exclusion suggests it is being ignored or, preferably, Council hopes the issue will go away; well, it won’t.

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.

5. Where is the rail freight strategy?

6. Eureka Stadium

I believe that Council should shelve the $25 million plan it has proposed to the state government. 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.

7. 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; and it won’t be as there is no demand.

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.

8. 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).

9. Ballarat West Employment Zone

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

10. M.A.D.E

Council has failed to deliver a centre of excellence that commemorates and celebrates Eureka and its legacy – our democracy. The state government must be asked by Council to intervene and create M.A.D.E 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 M.A.D.E and the Gold Museum for sustainability should be considered as well.

11. 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.

12. 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?

13. 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 be confident in the water.

14. 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. There is a proposal that is ‘shovel’ ready, and has been for many years, yet has been overlooked by successive councils.

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.

15. 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.

16. CBD Parking

Also the CBD is and will continue to be a parking nightmare unless Council actively shifts the community’s dependence on motor vehicles and also has a plan for access and egress to the railway station.

My comments in this submission are given in good faith and 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.

 

Yours faithfully

Ron Egeberg

Categories: Council
This post was written by , posted on August 29, 2015 Saturday at 9:07 am

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