Ballarat City Council is nearly halfway through its present four-year term.
This council has already achieved some amazing results from its bold and visionary council plan 2017-21.
The plan is a strategic document outlining what the City of Ballarat will do to help achieve both the council’s and the community’s vision of Ballarat as a proud, vibrant and thriving city.
We are very proudly the regional capital of Western Victoria.
And the projects and activities within our municipality should reflect that.
So far, we have delivered the Lucas Community Hub, AFL and AFLW games at Mars Stadium.
We’ve also completed our first Active Women’s and Girls Strategy, a strong heritage plan and implemented supported social connections programs with our older residents.
Ballarat is currently experiencing similar population growth to the gold rush era.
Ballarat is currently experiencing similar population growth to the gold rush era. As a council, we want to work with our diverse and intercultural community to respond to this growth in the best possible way.
As a council, we want to work with the region’s diverse and intercultural community to respond to this growth in the best possible way.
This is where the council plan provides us with the objectives and goals to ensure that we deal with change in a planned manner that achieves results for every sector of the community.
We’ve dealt with some of the really tough projects, such as the Civic Hall and the saleyards.
Now, we need to clear our plate and look at a new vision for the city.
Currently, the central business district activation plan is front and centre of our council planning.
Particularly the Bakery Hill masterplan, which will see significant development on Bakery Hill, on Little Bridge Street and Curtis Street.
It is time to make our central business district a thriving heart of Ballarat.
We can do this by helping businesses reinvigorate and thrive while enticing new operators to town.
However, we will not forget about a broader and more diverse Ballarat.
The council will continue to implement our neighbourhood plans that are successfully catering to each suburb’s specific individual needs.
We have also started working closely with the community on a new future for the current Latrobe Street saleyards site, which will shortly be decommissioned.
We must also look at adjacent Victoria Park and how we can best maximise its assets, such as through better connections to Lake Wendouree.
We have the opportunity to add more beauty to Ballarat and maybe even to create our own stunning version of New York’s Central Park.
We know that there are lots of complicated issues to work through on the saleyards site first.
But it’s important to remember there used to be a saleyard in the middle of Melbourne, and now it’s a magnificent residential development instead.
There’s a lot of scope for creating something special on that site by opening our minds to be creative and visionary.
It’s an enormous space capable of beautiful growth.
Similarly, the Creswick Road showgrounds site will be another big precinct that, with significant community consultation and collaboration, could produce an outstanding result when it becomes vacant in five years.
Ballarat City Council has a strong relationship with the Ballarat Agricultural and Pastoral Society and we are proud of being able to support them to find a new home at Federation University’s Mount Rowan campus.
After all, being a regional capital means you must be a regional leader as well.
The council plan 2017-21 gives us the firm signposts to lead Ballarat – and the region – for the next few years and create a regional city that everyone will be proud to call home.
I look forward to the next council plan progress report and what great works have been achieved for Ballarat.
Cr Samantha McIntosh is mayor of Ballarat City Council.