THE controversial Civic Hall site is waiting for the community to decide its fate.
Ballarat City Council last night voted to adopt a five-month community engagement process, where all plans for the Mair Street site will be taken into consideration from tomorrow until May 18.
Submission reviews will be held from May to June, with a ‘Development Scenarios Brief’ released in July for public feedback.
Final development concepts will be published in August.
Councillor Des Hudson said there was now the potential to create something significant for the community.
“Just put your idea down on a piece of paper even and put it into the process,” Cr Hudson said.
Mayor Mark Harris said the Civic Hall had been a troubled space but the council had moved through it.
“There’s still some pain for council and council officers to have gone down a path so far and then changed course,” Cr Harris said.
He said the community consultation would allow for an open process with fair parameters.
“The community will judge us appropriately for the decisions we’ve made. The only thing I feel remiss about is if we recoil from this project and do nothing about it.”
Councillor Cheryl Bromfield said councillors shouldn’t criticise or condemn themselves.
“We were so eager to deliver on the site and we wanted to engage with the community but somehow that got scrambled and we can learn from that,” Cr Bromfield said.
Councillor Judy Verlin said “doing nothing is not an option”.
“This site is critical to the city’s future,” Cr Verlin said.
Councillor Noel Perry agreed with Cr Verlin and said he had no regrets about his previous stance on the site.
“I wish the new council the best of luck in giving the community its preferred option,” Cr Perry said.
Councillor Samantha McIntosh said there was a strong message the space should include some public component.
“This is a massive site with a massive future,” Cr McIntosh said.
Councillor Craig Fletcher said the site had the potential to unlock the future of Ballarat and called for “11th hour naysayers” to take part in the community process.
“Let’s hear it early, let’s have the information so we can pass it onto the next council,” Cr Fletcher said.