Committee for Ballarat's chief executive says it is time to take control of Ballarat's future as we face a 'watershed moment' in the city's growth and development.
Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows Australia's population is projected to increase by 11.8 million people by 2046, the equivalent to adding a new city the size of Sydney every decade.
Committee for Ballarat's chief executive Melanie Robertson says this presents complex choices for Ballarat that means inaction and business as usual is not an option.
Ms Robertson recently resigned from the committee to take on a role with Ballarat Health Services directing the redevelopment of the hospital.
"We know we need to author our future and in order to maintain our liveability and enviable lifestyle, we must control our growth and destiny from Ballarat," she says in a Committee for Ballarat discussion paper on population and liveability.
"If we fail to effectively anticipate and respond to growth, the likely effects will be declining economic productivity, a market reduction in quality of life and increasing environmental pressures."
Under current predictions Ballarat will double in population from 100,000 to 200,000 by 2050.
Steve Bracks and Patrick McNamara's report Victoria's Future State: why decentralisation should be our priority says Victoria should aim for half of the 3.4 million people projected to come to Melbourne to be settled in regional Victoria by 2050.
We know we need to author our future and in order to maintain our liveability and enviable lifestyle, we must control our growth and destiny from Ballarat.Melanie Robertson, Committee for Ballarat
Ms Robertson calculates Ballarat would need to carry 500,000 people by 2050 if this goal of decentralising growth is achieved.
The introduction of fast rail to Ballarat could accelerate that growth from a current planned rate of 2.5 per cent to up to five per cent.
"A fast train connection to Ballarat provides the opportunity to develop a long-term blueprint for how decentralisation can be effectively pursued," Ms Robertson says.
"It allows us to work through the various issues involved in planning out the new shape of our city with the introduction of transformative infrastructure."
The issue of decentrailsation and population growth and liveability will be central to the work of Committee for Ballarat throughout the next two years.
Ms Robertson says Ballarat's challenge is to recognise the issue and adequately plan.
In her discussion paper she says to meet the demands of population growth, Ballarat must:
- Increase the delivery of well-located housing supply and ensure housing remains affordable to a broad cross section of the community
- Plan for and appropriately locate and expanding job market
- The capacity and efficiency of infrastructure networks needs to be increased
- Road and public transport networks will need to be upgraded
- Utility infrastructure, namely water, telecommunications and energy will need to be understood and accounted for
- Capacity of key social infrastructure facilities such as hospitals, schools and green spaces will need to be increased
"Do we lag or do we lead. The train is coming."
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday Australia has thrived from steady population growth, but for the past two decades infrastructure and services have struggled to keep pace.
A decentralisation plan could include two new regional visas skilled migrant workers.