The Ballarat CBD will gain 1000 new free car parks to address one of the city's biggest issues.
The project will begin with 100 free car park spaces, including 30 near the Ballarat Library, 20 at White Flat Oval and 50 at Eastern Oval.
But the remaining 900 multi-level car park spaces may not be fully constructed until at least 2023 following a feasibility study.
On Thursday the state government released a shortlist of four locations for the majority of the car park spaces, including multi-level spaces of up to 300 on Armstrong Street, Anderson Street West and Little Bridge Street.
The Labor Government made a promise to deliver the free car parks in the lead up to the 2018 election.
Member for Wendouree Juliana Addison said the planning and viability of the different car park locations had been a challenge for Regional Development Victoria over the past two years, which had caused a delay.
She said finding 1000 free car park locations in central Ballarat was challenging.
"That's why we are going out to the community to hear their voice to make sure we get this right because we know what it means to Ballarat," Ms Addison said.
Under the plan, the Ballarat Base Hospital's Mair Street existing multi-level car park could be extended with up to 400 new free car park spaces.
The Ballarat Library will gain 30 new free car park spaces on Market Street, between Armstrong and Doveton streets. This project is expected to be completed by mid-next year.
See where the carparks are locked in and where they are proposed.
HAVE YOUR SAY AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS STORY
The state government and the City of Ballarat will deliver the project.
"This project is so important because it's going to relieve congestion and encourage more people into our CBD. We know a lot of our traders have really struggled with the lockdowns and the challenges of COVID and we want to make sure our CBD is vibrant," Ms Addison said.
"I am very committed to getting this project right for our community, not making rush decisions, so for me the number one priority is listening to the community and getting things right and delivering on our election commitment of 1000 free car parks for Ballarat."
Ms Addison said the government would start to deliver the first 100 car park spaces from November to May while it would be longer for the remaining 900 spaces.
"By May next year we will have a full decision made on where the 1000 parks will be and we will deliver the election commitment in full," she said.
IN OTHER NEWS
Ms Addison could not provide an estimated cost of the project or a deadline, saying "community consultation is going to lead our decision making".
City of Ballarat mayor Daniel Moloney said 1000 free car spaces was incredibly important to Ballarat people.
"It's important we have the car spaces in locations that are actually going to be of use so that means having them in our key activity areas, having them here at our library in Market Street, locations such as the hospital to serve the health community, and in locations to serve the growing student population," Cr Moloney said.
He said feedback over the past two years showed Ballarat traders were unhappy with the lack of car park spaces for their workers, especially in retail and hospitality.
"These free car spaces are going to be really useful because they are on the fringe of the CBD, usually within a couple of walking blocks to get through, so ideally, we have customers parking on the street outside shops getting quick and easy access," Cr Moloney said.
"Hopefully these additional spaces will be great for those who work in the hospitality and retail sector. I know they will be really welcomed by people who need them the most."
The state government provided $2 million for 1000 additional car parks for Ballarat ahead of the opening of the GovHub site on Mair Street, and to replace lost spaces at the Civic Hall site.
The $2 million has funded a new car park at Eastern Oval and a 290-space venue on Creswick Road, which has been little used since it opened in October 2019.
Ballarat residents who would like to have their say on the proposed sites, including the Market Street development, can visit the website https://engage.vic.gov.au/.
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