City of Ballarat councillors are set to decide on the contentious Lake Wendouree lighting project at this Wednesday night's council meeting.
Councillors will vote on a planning permit application to build a series of lights along the Steve Moneghetti Track which circles the lake.
The lighting would be installed around the entire track except for the portion that runs through the Ballarat Botanical Gardens on the western side of the lake between Carlton Drive and St Aidens Drive which is affected by a heritage overlay.
In total, 225 light poles are proposed to be installed along the track between 25 and 30 metres apart from each other. Each pole would be five metres tall, painted 'moss green', fixed to a concrete footing and topped by a 50 centimetre tall light fitting.
IN OTHER NEWS:
The lights would project downwards onto the track and are planned to be spaced out to provide consistent lighting along the length of the track. The lights would be on until 11pm each night and turn on when triggered by a sensor measuring the amount of available natural light.
The project received $2.5 million in funding from the state government after both major parties made commitments to lighting the lake at the last state election.
The project was identified as a priority of the Lake Wendouree Master Plan which was endorsed by council in 2017 and received overwhelming support at the time, with 82 per cent of 1800 community responses in favour of the lighting. Further community consultation and trials last summer resulted in mixed feedback.
The master plan said lighting throughout the lake's foreshore was poor and use at nights and afternoons during winter months was limited and potentially unsafe.
"Some sectors of the Ballarat community have been requesting lighting of the lake for several decades and recent lighting trials have confirmed that pole-mounted, energy-efficient lighting at regular intervals provides the most effective and efficient lighting for improved pedestrian safety," the master plan said.
Ahead of a decision, council received 23 objections and four submissions in support of the project. The objections included environmental concerns such as the effect of lighting on wildlife and potential damage to trees and amenity concerns such as the view of the lake from neighbouring houses and disruption to sunrise and sunset views.
One objector even said the lighting would 'compromise personal safety by being too bright and preventing ability to see'.
City of Ballarat chief executive Evan King said it had been a long journey to get the project to the point of being voted on and should the project be approved by councillors, council would then go straight into a tender process with the hope of starting constriction in the new year.
"In the master plan for Lake Wendouree, which had significant community engagement and consultation involved in it, it came up as the number one priority project of the precinct," he said.
"It's important to note the lighting of the Steve Moneghetti Track is not just about walking, it's not just about running, it provides the opportunity for people to be able to use the lake for an extended period for whatever it might be and could facilitate night markets, it could do all sorts of things.
"Ultimately, it's about safety around the lake, it's about enhancing the opportunities around the lake. We're incredibly lucky to have such an amazing asset in the middle of our city and lake lighting just further enhances it."
If the project were to be approved, it would not be able to be taken to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal by objectors after a recent state planning scheme amendment was gazetted which prevents government-funded projects under $10 million from going to VCAT.
If you are seeing this message you are a loyal digital subscriber to The Courier, as we made this story available only to subscribers. Thank you very much for your support and allowing us to continue telling Ballarat's story. We appreciate your support of journalism in our great city.