Letters to the Editor

Disappointing outcome

Ballarat Pride Hub Inc. would like to express our disappointment and sadness in the statement made in the Ballarat Courier by the mayor, Councillor Samantha McIntosh and Ballarat Council's current stance on visibility for our community around our region.

For the record, we have met with Ballarat City Council CEO Justine Linley, but have not met with any members of Council in an official capacity as of yet. We are more than happy for this to happen.

Representatives of Ballarat Pride Hub and the LGBTIQ community attended the council meeting on the 27th of September and were disgusted by some of the comments allowed in the chamber and that the Council, who represent Ballarat citizens failed to set an example of acceptance and leadership and voted to take down the Rainbow flag at this incredibly difficult time.

We would like to state at this time that we are respectful of the rights of others to have differing opinions on marriage equality, but did not feel they were relevant to the proposal being brought to chambers which was about nothing more than visibility for the LGBTIQ community and obvious diversity within the Ballarat Region.

And whilst Ballarat Pride Hub Inc. is very happy to work with Council on inclusion, diversity and acceptance within the region and the organisation, we are disappointed that there is not yet a visible sign of support that backs up statements and affirmations that have been made by Council in the past.

Samantha McIntosh has said “This council doesn’t wish to be divisive” but by allowing marriage equality and the postal survey to be put under the microscope during debate on a non-related issue, her vote on this issue has not reflected this in any way. We do appreciate Council’s support and are hopeful that it continues, but we do not condone the current stance of Samantha McIntosh or those Councillors like Cr. Grant Tilllet who support this stance. We would like to thank those Councillors who have been supportive and have checked in with us since this disappointing decision.

We would like our community to know that we are here for them at this time and always. And we will continue to work for a brighter and much more visible future for our LGBTIQ community in Ballarat. You are never alone in this and we will continue to work tirelessly to ensure a much more accepting, diverse and inclusive region for you to call home.

Kirsten Holden, President Ballarat Pride Hub Inc.

Some readers see the council decision not to raise the rainbow flag as deeply divisive in an already polarised and harmful debate

Some readers see the council decision not to raise the rainbow flag as deeply divisive in an already polarised and harmful debate

Shining a light at the lake

The final draft Lake Wendouree Master Plan was released last month. It seems to differ little from the first draft in spite of 16 written submissions being received, many were allegedly highly critical of the first draft.

A welcome addition is that of a revised costing for the developments proposed. The most expensive item is that of lighting around the lake at a cost of $1.5 million. Assuming that there are 50,000 ratepayers in the city, this is $30 per household. Only 2,000 people are said to use the footpath and then not every night. The cost per user would be $750.I am also concerned that the benefit of lights on the path has not been accurately assessed.

Although intuitively lights could make the path safer at night, the opposite is likely. In published, peer reviewed studies from overseas the conclusions were that lights increase crime rates or at least have no effect. Potential criminals can more easily observe vulnerable victims when lit, and runners cannot detect threats because the lights cause glare and reduce visibility into the shadows. A head torch is safer as well as cheaper.

Wildlife, and that includes the 'at risk' water rat (Rakali), are adversely affected by the lights because their diurnal rhythms are disrupted. The cost in environmental damage to the conservation values of the lake could match the cost of the lights.

I request the Council and their Officers to reverse the proposal to place lights around Lake Wendouree and instead develop policy based on evidence and not on perception. In supporting this project, the community were likely unaware that lights may not protect them but could have the opposite effect. 

Penelope Greenslade, Soldiers Hill

Ballarat Council has now released the final draft of its Lake Wendouree Master Plan - with approximate costs totalling almost $7.5 million. The most expensive item listed is $1,500,000 to "Install new lighting as part of Lake Wendouree Lighting Project." Of the 1800 people surveyed [less than two percent of Ballarat's population] apparently 81.7 percent of those responding about the lighting project were supportive of it and 9.6 percent were opposed.

Assuming all 1800 responded to this question then a maximum of 1471 supported it and 173 were opposed.Were those in favour of the lighting project aware it would cost rate payers at least $1.5 million for installation and then more ongoing costs for power and maintenance? If not would their opinion now be changed?How many people will actually benefit from the additional lighting? Has anyone counted the number of people who walk, jog, or ride around the lake after sunset? Is the spending of $1.5 million justified for what is most certainly a very small proportion of the population? What will be the cost per user?

Perhaps the provision of more street trees in Wendouree, Sebastopol where residents feel 'neglected' [- Courier 2nd October] would be preferred by many rate payers. 

Stuart Kelly, Ballarat central

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