PLANS to redevelop the Ballarat Botanical Gardens’ neglected fernery remain uncertain, unless the City of Ballarat invests $1.4 million into the project.
The Friends of the Botanical Gardens are lobbying the Ballarat Council to commit funding.
Their campaign comes in the wake of the council unveiling a $4.5 million Priority Project Fund which lists 16 developments in need of funding.
Among them is the fernery, Her Majesty’s Theatre and improving lighting at Lake Wendouree.
The council is seeking community feedback on the list and said it would fund the most popular projects.
Friends of the Botanical Gardens president Raoul Dixon said the investment into the fernery was of “vital importance”.
He said it was the third proposal the group had put to the City of Ballarat in recent years.
The other two have been knocked back in previous budgets.
“It will cement Ballarat as one of the top regional gardens, not just in Victoria but in the country,” Mr Dixon said.
“It is not just about replacing the existing structure but completely redeveloping the garden and bringing it to the forefront.”
Friends of the Botanical Gardens fernery project convenor Elizabeth Gilfillan said the fernery was in “desperate” need of work.
Last year, it was shut for months after being deemed too unsafe for the public.
The timber roof has been removed and minor works have been undertaken to reopen it, but Ms Gilfillan said it had been more than 50 years since any significant investment had been injected into the fernery.
“If this development was funded by the council, it has the potential to change the face of not just of the fernery but the entire Botanical Gardens,” Ms Gilfillan said.
Architectural drawings sketched by renowned landscape architect and designer Andrew Laidlaw show a complete revamp of the fernery, in keeping with the grand Victorian style of the garden.
Plans include building a sensory garden, interactive education centre and series of spaces, each with a different plant focus, with pathway links to the rest of the Botanical Gardens.
The council survey closes on April 24 at 5pm.
To fill out the survey, visit haveyoursay.ballarat.vic.gov.au.