Motion towards action on climate change

November 28, 2018 BY

DURING the Notice of Motion section of the City of Ballarat council meeting on 21 November, Councillor Belinda Coates put climate change firmly on the agenda once again.

Her five-point motion called on council to note the October 2018 Intergovernmental Panel’s report on Climate Change and a successful motion from the Municipal Association Victoria’s May 2017 meeting saying there’s currently a climate emergency.

It also called for priority resourcing of carbon neutral and 100 per cent renewable action plans and that councillors receive a briefing from staff on what the best courses of action on climate change could be.

“The motion is really about good governance,” Cr Coates said. “It’s about us demonstrating to the community that we are really taking matters of the urgency of the climate change issue.

“Whilst this motion doesn’t commit us to a dollar value, it really has the potential for us to send a positive and pro-active message to the community.”

Also speaking in support of the need for action on climate change were a number of community members who addressed council with their take on different aspects of the issue.

Some urged the council to read the IPCC report and act accordingly, while others spoke of their dismay at a lack of solar panels in Ballarat’s growth areas.

High-School student Anne Burnett addressed council on the effects climate change and global warming would have for future generations and joined with other speakers in urging the group to take more action on the issue.

Not all councillors were totally convinced.

Cr Tillett said the motion, “As it stands really achieves nothing,” and responded to the group by telling them that lighting in the council chamber was generated from burning methane gas from the council’s landfill site, using it as an example of council’s environmental credentials.

He also vehemently objected to the third-point in Cr Coates’ motion, that council, “Acknowledges the ‘climate emergency’ and the need for urgent action by all levels of government, including local councils.”

“We can’t, as councillors declare a climate emergency in the City of Ballarat just because Cr Coates wants a motion,” he said. “In my view clause three is a dangerous clause.”

Ultimately the recorded vote passed 5-2, with Cr Tillett and Cr Ben Taylor opposing, while Cr Amy Johnson was on leave and Cr Jim Rinaldi an apology.

Half the trot money

Ballarat and District Trotting Club applied for $20,000 from the Tourism Event Grant Fund to help publicise the upcoming Inter Dominion Heat Two event.

Yet before the meeting the municipality’s Property Portfolio members resolved to offer $5000 for council approval instead.

When it came time to vote Cr Tillett intervened and moved an amendment to the motion that provided for $10,000.

In doing so he also raised concerns that the money was being allocated from the wrong place and should have come from an economic development source, rather than the tourism fund.

The idea of alternate funding means was also somewhat supported by Cr Moloney who suggested that council work on a strategic partnership with the club.

Councillors Mark Harris and Cr Coates opposed the motion with Cr Coates saying she wouldn’t support either funding option without the application of a social harm policy first.

Meeting documents say that the Trotting Club expected to attract 1500 people to Ballarat for the Inter Dominion event with another 1500 locals attending and approximate economic boost of over $200,000.

Of the original $20,000 applied for 64 per cent would have been spent on promotion with the rest going towards event activities and to hire a large tv screen.

Approval for the $10,000 ultimately passed 4-2.

CAFs to get facelift

The Child and Family Services building will be getting a new entrance after council approved works on a non-heritage façade section of the organisation’s Lydiard Street North offices.

Located next to Ludbrook House, the section will be replaced with a contemporary entrance as part of ground floor renovations.

The works follow a number of other improvements over the years at the site which were detailed for council by a Peter Dunn, an architect working for CAFs.

They also come after toing and froing between council and the architect on the form the façade would take, with this being the fourth time approval was sought.

Many councillors acknowledged the lengthy time the approval process has taken, with Cr Mark Harris apologising and Cr Tillett saying, “The time for debate is over.”

Even after that some councillors still weren’t satisfied with the outcome.

Cr Taylor, who supported the development, spoke about his issues with mock heritage verses modern styles of building exterior, while also pointing out the current façade, while true to the adjacent building is fake.

In a question about the process for deciding the façade put to the municipality’s planning head Terry Demeo, Cr Daniel Moloney said the new designs didn’t fit with existing buildings the area.

“To me it doesn’t appear to be sympathetic to the heritage buildings around it,” he said. “It’s pretty contemporary and not at all in keeping with the rest of the street.”

Beer and music money

Ballarat Beer Festival requested and received $15,000 from the Tourism Event Fund, while an application from Organs of the Ballarat Goldfields for the same amount also got the tick of approval.

However, both applications didn’t get off without scrutiny as the reoccurring nature of the requests caused Cr Molony to opine that the events seem to be financially non-viable without council funding.

He also offered a solution.

“There’s perhaps a need to go into some kind of strategic partnership where we do look at how best to manage festivals like this, where ultimately we see them as being important to our city… but don’t just necessarily appear to be viable without a grant,” he said.

New eatery gets OK

Buninyong looks like it’s getting a new restaurant after council approved a planning permit for the old M.G. Brown shopfront at 317 Learmonth Street.

The site has had many uses since the gold rush and the developers are looking to make use of a 19th century Scotch oven that still sits in the building.

Conditions of the permit include a reduced number of required parking spaces and permission to sell alcohol for consumption on site.

Originally the development had sought significantly more outside dining space, but exterior seating was reduced to 16 following mediation with objectors.

Cr Taylor praised the engagement between various stakeholders that got the proposed restaurant to its current form.

“This was a very well-done mediation process,” he said.

Feedback on inclusion

A draft of the municipal Access and Inclusion Plan for 2018-21 is going out for public feedback.

The document got the OK for public engagement by a vote of 6-0 and following a public presentation from Narelle Mason from the Disability Advisory Committee.

Ms Mason said the new draft plan was built around five principals – that exclusion is not acceptable, that inclusive design solutions can work alongside heritage values, that technology can improve access and inclusion, providing for best practice and evidence beyond compliance and context matters and the changing policy environment is understood.