Ballarat City Council spends $94,000 on animal shelter repairs

THE City of Ballarat has spent almost $94,000 on repairs and upgrades at the Gillies Street animal shelter after a service provider pulled out of running the centre due to “unacceptable” safety concerns. 

However, it appears not all of the issues raised have been addressed, with no direct reference to spending on emergency fire exits and inadequate large animal accommodation which were identified as problematic by Victorian Animal Aid Trust following the tender process.

The council has not yet finalised who will run the centre, after the RSPCA was asked to keep managing the animal shelter temporarily when Victorian Animal Aid Trust pulled out.

The tender for animal shelter and pound services was awarded to Animal Aid last July, however the organisation backed out a month later citing occupational health and safety concerns for animals and staff. 

At the time, Animal Aid board chairwoman Fran Bailey said it would take “a lot of money” to bring the centre up to scratch. 

She slammed the council for not allowing the organisation access to the centre prior to the tender process.

According to documents released under Freedom of Information laws, the City of Ballarat conducted $93,552 worth of upgrades on the building in the months after the concerns were raised. 

Works included the replacement of doors, installation of steel sheet panels to cage doors, servicing of the ventilation system and resealing of the floor surface.

The most expensive work carried out at the shelter was $69,500 spent on the concrete floor in December. All but one of the upgrades took place in September and October, with no further works to the building currently planned.

City of Ballarat City infrastructure general manager Eric Braslis said the council was considering options for the ongoing shelter services and hoped for a resolution over the next couple of months.

“As per the tender specifications, council’s role is to ensure that the facility is fit for purpose and the operator is then required to ensure general maintenance,” Mr Braslis said.

The RSPCA declined to comment.

tom.cowie@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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