If world-class events are to be held in Ballarat, leaders say "genuine" community consultation is needed.
Committee for Ballarat chief executive Michael Poulton said more engagement with communities before decisions were made was one of the key take-aways from the cancellation of the Commonwealth Games.
Yesterday he told a senate hearing he felt the state government had not intended to work with residents on the ground to find solutions.
"The piece that became most frustrating through the back-end of 2022 and ... early part of 2023 was they're not that interested in listening," Mr Poulton said.
"They were not that open to opportunities here."
City of Ballarat and other stakeholders in the sporting area have big ideas for the precinct.
Mars and Selkirk stadium upgrades over the past decade continue to set the space up for major events.
The opportunity to host the 2026 Games has slipped by but the state government said it was committed to building the sporting upgrades originally needed for the Games. This included extra seating at Mars Stadium, an athletics track next door and a community sporting facility in Miners Rest.
Mr Poulton said the committee would continue to ensure the government delivered on those promises by 2026.
He said he had seen plans and costs for the Mars Stadium upgrades.
When asked, the state government did not have details about a timeframe for this project.
Premier Daniel Andrews said there was "deep engagement with councillors and all manner of different people".
"The Committee for Ballarat were not paying for the Games, the Committee for Ballarat had made precisely zero contribution to the cost of the Games," he said.
"The Committee for Ballarat have an important role to play, but they were not footing the bill for this."
Councillors call for compensation
Deputy mayor Amy Johnson and councillor Ben Taylor told the senate hearings they were concerned about who would be responsible for the sporting infrastructure upgrades.
"Our biggest concern right now is that we don't know who is going to deliver [the projects]," Cr Taylor said.
"Whether it's going to come back to council, then the government gives us the money, and then we have to continue the delivery."
Both councillors told the committee the council was looking to secure compensation for the "hundreds and hundreds of hours" of work.
"We, as a group of councillors, we consistently raised concerns relating to the many hours that were being dedicated to preparing for the Games," Cr Johnson said.
"It's unfortunate that many of our projects haven't progressed as quickly as they should have because attention was directed elsewhere."
The state government has announced additional funding for tourism and sport infrastructure.
Cr Taylor said he was disappointed they would have to compete against all Victorian councils for additional funding. "It shouldn't be a competitive compensation bid or grants, it should be based on the time commitments we've put in."
A state government spokesperson said in a statement the projects "will be completed as planned".
Both Cr Johnson and Taylor are former Liberal party candidates in state elections.
Layers of confidentiality
Cr Taylor told the committee, council's chief Evan King had to "be very careful" about what he said to councillors because he had signed a non-disclosure agreement.
Cr Taylor said the agreement was signed after the Games announcement at the start of 2022.
"As a group of councillors, we were not able to gain all the necessary insight that we needed to ensure that we were aware of what was going on," Cr Johnson said. "I don't think it's usual and if it is usual, it's wrong."
Council did not confirm the non-disclosure agreement claim in time for deadline.
Housing questions remain
Mr Poulton said he was concerned about how many affordable houses would come to Ballarat as part of the post-Games cancellation commitment.
"We are less and less optimistic that Ballarat will see a net gain in social and affordable housing in our city as a result of that money."
It is understood Homes Victoria will be in charge of finding locations for the promised 1300 houses.
The state government has not said where these will go.
Mr Andrews said they would announced this "as soon as it's ready".
Senator shocked at secrecy
Liberal senator Sarah Henderson said the state government had treated "regional communities with contempt".
"Evidence from the Committee for Ballarat shows how poorly the Ballarat community was treated by Labor," she said in a statement.
"It is unacceptable that the government failed to give Ballarat a voice on the need for local transport infrastructure."
Both Mr Andrews and Commonwealth Games minister Jacinta Allan point to the impending work of the Victorian Auditor General when asked about the senate hearing.
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