Ballarat City councillors discuss long term lease options

Lake Wendouree
Lake Wendouree

Community groups and private operators with assets on Ballarat City Council land want longer lease options to ensure a return on their investments.

In some cases, leaseholders on council land do not own what they have paid for and built if their lease expires or is ended.

This means it remains the property of council once they move on.

Ballarat City Rowing Club committee member Nathan Sims said groups with leases wanted certainty for long term planning.

“We would like a friendlier leasing arrangement with the council that’s for sure,” he said.

“It is a concern that we have.

“Should we go ahead with volunteers raising large amounts of funds and grants to upgrade our facilities, when council can come in and just change tack?”

Council manages $1.6 billion in assets, many of which have lease arrangements, including footy ovals, basketball stadiums, Lake Wendouree and the Ballarat Airport.

Cr Daniel Moloney said there needed to be a new process to manage the leases.

“If council wanted to move on one of the user groups, there are not currently conflict resolution processes, where the user group could challenge the decision.

“The decision making is delegated to the officers.

“Groups invest heavily into their own buildings, they put a lot of time and effort into their own buildings without ratepayer support, but then in theory council could takeover in just a few years.

“I would like to see some sort of safety net put in place for these people.”

Cr Moloney said is was particularly an issue for attracting investment at the airport and for rowing clubs at Lake Wendouree.

Mayor Samantha McIntosh said the issue came up regularly when she had discussions with community members.

“We are working really closely with the airport project at the moment,” she said.

“The lease agreements are something we have been talking about over a number of years.

“It is important we make investment viable on council spaces.

Cr McIntosh said part of the Ballarat West Employment Zone project would include moving the airport entrance to extend the runway and open up more and to lease arrangements.

Mr Sims said a 10-year lease would be beneficial for clubs and allow them to put longer strategic planning in place.