Time to get on with it
What a pleasure it was to see the local ALP politicians emerge from their winter slumber on Tuesday to get behind the much anticipated redevelopment of the Ballarat railway precinct. This area has sat idle for decades and selling this otherwise useless and under utilised land for a major CBD redevelopment is a great plan. The extra onsite commuter parking is welcome and so are the much needed local jobs in construction, retail and accommodation.We have been bombarded with propaganda and misinformation from a noisy minority for months now so it was good to see Howard, Knight and Pulford finally getting onto the front foot. This redevelopment will bring a much needed modern conference facility to Ballarat. By attracting new corporate events, conferences and trade shows to our city, this facility will provide benefits to every accommodation provider in the CBD as well as Ballarat's wonderful restaurants, cafes and bars. Restoring the beautiful blue stone goods sheds and the surrounding area will turn an eyesore into a viable, job-creating asset. This new reality for our growing, vibrant city will be in stark contrast to what a handful of anti-development, backward-looking naysayers would foist upon us all if they had their way.
Mark Cameron, Alfredton
A disappointing result
The re-announcement by the minister for Regional Development, Jaala Pulford that the Ballarat Station's bluestone goods shed is to become a hotchpotch of five different things is just another confession from Labor that are breaking the election commitments they made to the people of Ballarat. Before the November 2014 election, Daniel Andrews said that the railway precinct would have a 3000-square-metre exhibition space, a new bus terminal, a new taxi rank, new parking facilities and new station facilities. But now, after the election, we find that there is no 3000-square-metre exhibition space, it will be nearly half that size at 1700-square-metres. The new bus terminal was not even in the initial scope of work proposed for the precinct, and it was only after a huge backlash from community that the government was forced into an embarrassing back-flip to announce funding for it. There is no new taxi rank in Labor's plan, the 'new parking facilities' is actually a reduction in the number of carparks available on the site and there are no 'new station facilities.' Ms Pulford offered earlier this year, in parliament, to debate this redevelopment with me "anywhere, anytime". Well minister, I believe it's high-time we did, and in doing so, provide the community with the answers they deserve to their many questions about why Labor is so hell-bent on barrelling ahead this dog's breakfast of a plan.
Joshua Morris MP, State Member for Western Victoria
Business events mean big business
It would be difficult to argue against opportunities to create more jobs across all industries for Ballarat.
A recent Letter to the Editor published in The Courier referenced Ballarat’s annual average accommodation occupancy of 59%. Ballarat enjoys a robust events calendar supporting weekends, in order to raise this annual average Ballarat needs to attract more visitors Monday to Friday.
Boosting mid-week visitation and creating jobs is a focus for Visit Ballarat and all levels of government. Our community – including businesses owned and operated by locals – will benefit from the creation of more jobs and a more prosperous community.
The redevelopment of the Ballarat Rail Station Precinct will create 140 jobs during construction and 30 ongoing jobs once complete. The infrastructure will provide an opportunity to boost Ballarat’s mid-week visitation, more people in our city will increase the likelihood of more jobs across hospitality, retail, attractions and accommodation. A rising tide lifts all boats.
The redevelopment will showcase and preserve Ballarat’s proud heritage buildings, breathing new life in to the bluestone goods shed for the benefit of both locals and visitors. Part of the redevelopment includes conferencing facilities; a 300-seat theatrette and a 300-seat banquet room within the Goods Shed providing opportunity for Ballarat to cement our stake in the lucrative business events market.
Business events is Australia’s highest yielding events sector. In regional Victoria alone, business events contributes almost half a billion dollars towards the economy and supports more than 3000 jobs every year. As delegates travel for business events, mid-week occupancy rates increase steadily.
The average delegate spends up to $1,000 in food and entertainment per visit, which will see our restaurants, cafes, retailers and attractions benefit. These business travellers then return at a later date as leisure travellers, bringing friends and family along to explore each destination and further boost the visitor economy.
It would be remiss of us to allow these lucrative dollars to go to businesses within our regional counterparts. Currently, Bendigo and Geelong have the stronghold on business events in regional Victoria. The proposed Rail Precinct redevelopment will help Ballarat to compete.
We all agree a 45 minute commute would be great for Ballarat. This project assists the viability of investing in an express service to Southern Cross by creating more mid-week travel and patronage in our businesses.
Investment and respectful development grows and positions our destination as one worth visiting. Let’s continue to evolve so our community can continue to thrive.
Chief Executive Officer