BALLARAT’S role as western Victoria’s capital will be cemented by 2030, according to Committee for Ballarat chairman Tony Chew.
Mr Chew said Ballarat would be a regional leader in business, the environment, health and education.
“The population is growing and it is predicted to be 130,000 by 2030, but this carries with it the responsibility from all forms of government to create infrastructure,” Mr Chew said.
But to achieve this, he said Ballarat needed a thriving business sector, driven by the Ballarat West Employment Zone, which would also lead the way in using alternative energy sources, including bioenergy and sustainable water use.
The Committee for Ballarat is hosting a roundtable forum on Thursday, moderated by the SBS’s Jenny Brockie, into a 2030 vision for the town.
Mr Chew said the Revitalisation of the ACU-Hospital Precinct project would also provide innovative ways of delivering health projects, from medical studies to aged care.
He said greater virtual and physical connectivity would be vital to Ballarat’s 2030 future.
“We are one of the first mainland areas in Australia to have the National Broadband Network rolled out.
“Patients could be diagnosed remotely by doctors or even specialists overseas without them having to travel long distances. We have the potential to be the e-health capital of Australia, if not the world.”
Mr Chew said a faster, more frequent and more reliable transport system was also needed to increase connectivity to Melbourne.
“Ballarat is better placed to service Melbourne than Dandenong.”
However, Mr Chew said the committee’s leadership program would also help supply the leaders to provide an ongoing vision for Ballarat.
The Young Adult Empowerment program would help people who had “fallen through the cracks” become workplace contributors.
“I see Ballarat as an education city, with the university and ACU complemented by other tertiary institutions.
“We need to focus on developing links to industries and businesses that need these skills.
“Ballarat will be a mini major capital city in the western region.”
Mr Chew said the CBD needed to become a hub of entertainment to attract people back to live in the city.
“We shouldn’t be frightened of population growth, we should embrace it. We just need the right infrastructure in place.”
Mayor Mark Harris said there were areas of excellence in Ballarat that should be “pushed and driven” to help it become the city it could be.
“We actually need to start picking the winners, which is a hard thing to do,” Cr Harris. “We need to have a long-term vision, but we need to be able to adapt it as well.
“It would be sensible to look at the known economic parameters and work back from there.”
Cr Harris said the Ballarat West Growth Zone and in-fill development in Ballarat East would influence future planning.
“We know that we are growing as fast as Melbourne as a whole. There are a whole lot of economic parameters that are improving.
“We want to grow successfully, but preserve our lifestyle too. We have to try and get the good governance around it so it will work.
“Ballarat will become a service centre for the region without question.”
Commerce Ballarat executive officer Jodie Gillett said Ballarat in 2030 would be an active vibrant business community with the ability to offer suitable employment to all of its citizens.
“It will have a CBD that keeps its heart and history, but lends itself strongly as a commercial business centre supported by active community space and speciality retailers,” Ms Gillett said.
She said completion of the Ballarat Western Link Road would provide transport connectivity to surrounding areas and remove heavy vehicle traffic from the CBD.
“This link will also be a key to the success of the Ballarat West Employment Zone.”
She said BWEZ, which at capacity would employ 9000 people, could host major anchor tenants and innovative manufacturers.
“While the education, technology and medical sectors are crucial it is an important goal for the city into the future to continue to provide employment for unskilled labour, ensuring we develop and retain the skills required by our business community to allow both businesses and community to be b2b, or Business to Ballarat.”
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