BALLARAT has claimed supremacy over Bendigo and Geelong as the fastest growing city in regional Victoria.
In the first 10 years of the century, Ballarat’s population grew by 11,408 people, from 83,599 in 2001 to 95,007 in 2011, the federal government’s State of Australian Cities 2012 report shows.
That represents an average annual growth rate of 1.3 per cent, which is higher than Bendigo (1.2 per cent), Warrnambool (1.0 per cent), Geelong (0.9) and Shepparton (0.9 per cent).
Ballarat’s population is also bigger than Bendigo’s, making it the third largest city in the state.
Ballarat mayor John Burt said the the city was in a healthy place, with 9000 new jobs set to be created in the western growth area in the next 10 to 15 years.
“If people are voting with their feet and choosing to live in Ballarat, that is a fair indication there is success,” he said.
“Our expectation is that this growth will continue and a lot of work has gone into fostering a self-sustaining economy for Ballarat and making sure we have the housing to meet ongoing growth.
“What we have to look at is the quality of life we can provide for residents in Ballarat and making Ballarat a very livable city.”
He said the figures highlighted the importance of projects such as the Ballarat West Employment Zone and the Ballarat West Growth Area to Ballarat’s future.
Committee for Ballarat chief executive officer John Kilgour said Ballarat’s pulling power was in the quality of life it offered residents, its unique heritage and location just 100 kilometres from Melbourne.
“If we create jobs people will come to this regional city,” he said.
“The Ballarat West Employment Zone will be a key catalyst to attracting population growth in this region.
“If you look at the population explosion that’s taking place in Melbourne, people are looking for an alterative lifestyle.
“We have to be ahead of the curve and we have to prepare for this growth.”
Mr Kilgour said growth would have a positive impact on Ballarat by bringing further investment into the city’s education and health facilities, connectivity and transport.