Black swans and proposed Sturt Street cycling lanes dominated much of the earlier proceedings of last night's ordinary council meeting.
The initial discussion was over the Lake Wendouree birds, prompted by a submission during public question time.
Resident Sue Rye, who created a petition that currently has 589 signatures calling for speed humps to protect the lake's distinctive web-footed residents, asked what plans the council had to protect the birds.
Ms Rye said that as many as one swan was killed each week - although the Mayor Samantha McIntosh said that the official figure was three swan deaths annually, a figure that Cr Daniel Moloney also used.
Several councillors mentioned the issue of feeding the swans, with more prominent signs suggested by Cr Amy Johnson to help dissuade visitors to Lake Wendouree from giving food the birds. This was an issue that Cr Belinda Coates agreed was a "real bugbear", saying there was not enough information available that feeding them was detrimental to their health.
Cr Johnson subsequently moved onto the issue of plans for Sturt Street cycle lanes, accusing the state government of a backflip on a promise to take the proposals "off the table".
She proposed a motion to write to the local member for Wendouree to "ask for an explanation as to why this rejected plan is now going ahead once again".
While Cr Johnson had the backing of Crs Mark Harris and Ben Taylor, Cr Coates said the proposals were still in the planning stage and that with further consultation on the matter pending, a letter would be premature. The council's director of infrastructure and environment Terry Demeo confirmed the plans were in the consultation phase. Other councillors also spoke in support of the idea of cycle lanes on Sturt Street, especially for the occasional cyclist and families.
Cr Johnson's motion was voted down.
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There was a brief skirmish over a council recommendation to approve a trip for a councillor and council officer to travel to Japan for an Intercultural Cities conference in October.
Cr Moloney said community members had had "more than enough of people going overseas on trips that have very little effect on the community," an opinion that was backed by Cr Harris.
There are very few overseas conferences that deliver any clear benefit to the communityCr Daniel Moloney
He proposed an alternative motion that would just allow for a council worker to travel to the conference in Hamamatsu City, on the south coast of Japan's main island.
"There are very few overseas conferences that deliver any clear benefit to the community," he said.
Cr Grant Tillett countered that the hosts had showed their respect for City of Ballarat council by paying for travel, expenses and accommodation. "We have to take these opportunities when they are there," he said.
Cr Moloney's motion was defeated and the original recommendation, to allow a councillor and council worker to travel to the three-day conference, was voted through. There will be no cost to the Ballarat ratepayer, with all expenses covered by the hosts.
There was also some resistance to the City of Ballarat continuing its $21,900 executive membership of the Committee for Ballarat, despite a submission from the recently installed CEO Michael Poulton, who talked about the committee's apolitical stance advocating for the long-term good of Ballarat.
Crs Des Hudson, Harris and Johnson all argued for greater distance between council and the committee, suggesting that that a lesser level of membership would be more appropriate.
However Cr Taylor said that it was important for council to be "at the same table" and that the current level membership was important. His argument ultimately won the day, with the officer recommendation eventually being voted through. The deputy mayor Jim Rinaldi said the committee for Ballarat was a strong organisation, which did many good things. He advocated for strengthening ties between council and the committee.
In other business a draft policy and framework to counter the harm caused by gambling was approved to go out for consultation. Also voted through were tweaks to the council's procurement policy, a revised municipal emergency management plan until 2021, and a new five-year domestic wastewater plan.
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