City of Ballarat council concreted their support for the Mair Street redevelopment last night, following questions around whether the project had been politicised.
Cr Amy Johnson tabled a notice of motion at last night’s ordinary council meeting, asking council not to support the plan due to the loss of parking for traders and lack of consultation.
It also implicated the state government in the proposal.
It was voted down, with only Cr Johnson and Cr Ben Taylor voting in favour.
A successful alternate motion proposed by Cr Daniel Moloney stated support for VicRoads’ current $7 million staging between Dawson and Armstrong streets, and between Davies and Humffray streets.
It also requested VicRoads seek funding for the overall $30 million upgrade of Mair Street, and asked VicRoads to continue engaging with all stakeholders to ensure the best long and short term outcomes.
It was only voted against by Cr Johnson.
Cr Belinda Coates said it was “disappointing” that an unnecessary conversation was had before VicRoads shared completed plans following consultation.
“There’s been unnecessary politicising of this issue,” she said.
“It’s cast a really dark shadow over this council chamber, stirred unnecessary angst among business owners and has not been constructive at all.”
During debate, Cr Johnson said she had door-knocked with a staffer from MP Joshua Morris’ office when gathering 431 signatures on a petition against parking loss.
She said she did not trust VicRoads to consult fully following controversy surrounding plans for Sturt Street, and parking loss mitigation strategies don’t address the fact that “there is no better car park than the ones that are out the front” for business owners.
Cr Taylor said that the conversation was necessary, with the meeting providing “our opportunity to say it’s not quite right”.
“We can’t go to the point where we actually ruin the CBD before we get that [consultation] process to happen.”
Cr Des Hudson said it was a difficult decision, but “picking a war with the state government on every opportune platform” was not the best way forward.