Fourteen projects in the Central Highlands region have been awarded a Pick My Project grant.
An Alfredton Rotary and Uniting Ballarat project to provide a ‘pathway from homelessness’ in Ballarat received the most votes in the Central Highlands region, reaching a total of 581.
Food is Free received the second highest number of votes to create a green living classroom and greens recycle depot.
Other successful projects range from programs for youth mental health to an SES training facility, new playgrounds and upgrade work at sporting facilities.
More than 230 projects were selected for a grant statewide, out of 2300 initial applications.
Half of the total $30 million funding available through the grants scheme was allocated to regional Victorian projects and divided equally into nine different regions.
Visit pickmyproject.vic.gov.au/successful-projects for the full list of grant recipients.
BMX club riding to be Victoria’s best facility
Ballarat Sebastopol BMX Club will become the first BMX club in Victoria to have a sealed all-weather surface track.
Regional Development Minister Jaala Pulford announced the club was successful in its application for a Pick My Project grant of almost $200,000 on Tuesday.
Ballarat Sebastopol BMX Club funding research officer Ashley Pollard said the current unsealed track was often unsafe and unusable after rain.
“About a month ago we had to cancel an event because the track got soft after heavy rain. Thirty riders couldn’t race that day because of it,” he said.
“Had we had the sealed surface, we would have been able to wait out the rain and then run the race.”
Ms Pulford acknowledged the ‘enormous’ effort the club’s volunteers had made to maintain the current track.
Mr Pollard said a group of parents had spent four hours one afternoon a couple of weeks ago to fix the track’s last four corners.
The new surface to be installed at Marty Busch Reserve will be low-maintenance, saving countless hours of volunteer work.
The project will include a weatherproof and hard-wearing surface along the straights, bitumen corners and improved drainage.
Concept designs propose a yellow colour for the the surfaced track to reflect club colours.
Resurfacing the track is part of Ballarat Sebastopol BMX Club’s campaign to encourage more elite riders from around the state, while improving local participation.
The club also received a $10,000 City of Ballarat community impact grant to purchase bikes, helmets and gloves last week with plans to bring more people to the sport.
“We want to break down barriers,” Mr Pollard said.
“It cost $600 to set up my five year old son and as they grow they go up bike sizes.”
The Marty Busch Reserve BMX track is permanently open to the public and the club hosts monthly race events.
A state event held earlier this year drew 230 riders from across Victoria and around 500 spectators.
Ballarat Sebastopol BMX Club president Rob Pompe thanked club and wider community members for voting and supporting their Pick My Project campaign.
Ballarat’s heritage trams back on track
Replacing Ballarat’s historic tram tracks will provide a smoother ride for passengers and heritage trams.
The Ballarat Tramway Museum was awarded a $200,000 Pick My Project grant on Tuesday to complete the first stage of the track replacement project.
It is the museum’s biggest funding injection for a single project since its establishment in the 1970s.
Ballarat Tramway Museum president Paul Mong said replacing the tram tracks would help preserve Ballarat’s history.
“Replacing the track will increase operations and future proof our museum,” he said.
This is preserving Ballarat’s heritage and we all know heritage brings people to this city.Paul Mong, Ballarat Tramway Museum president
Track replacement will begin on the South Gardens Reserve end of Wendouree Parade where track condition is poorest.
Parts of the track date back to 1905 and were used by horse drawn trams.
READ MORE Getting our old trams back on new tracks
Mr Mong said new tracks would ensure a smoother ride, which will improve the running of the restaurant tram.
“At the moment the track is so rough we can’t actually take our restaurant tram up there,” he said.
“We will be able to do a full trip in the restaurant tram, but it will also protect our 100-year-old fleet as well. At the moment they are starting to deteriorate from wear and tear on the rough tracks.”
City of Ballarat had promised the Ballarat Tramway Museum it would match any funding it campaigned for to complete an extended section of the track.
Replacement work is expected to take around four weeks to complete.
Tramway Museum members said they had ‘big plans’ for the future of the museum, with plans to build a new display museum at the tram depot and long term visions to extend the tram route.
More than 30,000 people ride Ballarat’s trams or visit the Tramway Museum each year. The trams operate weekends, public holidays and school holidays.
It is run by more than 50 active volunteers and 250 members. Members range from two and a half to people in their late 70s.
Mr Mong said he would like to thank the state government for the grant and community members for voting for the project.
Pulford backs popularity contest
Regional Development Minister Jaala Pulford has dismissed concerns the Pick My Project grants scheme was an ‘unfair’ popularity contest.
“Lots of different government programs support programs on complicated criteria. This is our $30 million program that is about a popularity contest. Where’s the harm in that?,” she said.
Ms Pulford said the state budget had the capacity to spend $30 million on local ideas and reward community effort.
She confirmed the grants scheme did not impact other state government funding for organisations and programs.
“The Ballarat community are to be commended for the project that received the most votes being one about additional support for people experiencing homelessness. I think that says a great deal about our community,” she said.
The state government will assess and evaluate the Pick My Project scheme.
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