No decision on memorial centre – City of Ballarat council meeting briefs

December 1, 2021 BY

Overhaul: City of Ballarat councillors have endorsed deigns for the first phase of the Bridge mall redevelopment. Image: FILE

TRUSTEES of the Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial will have a chance to present an in-depth plan for an interpretive centre at the site, after councillors voted to defer at decision at regular City of Ballarat council meeting on Wednesday, 24 November.

The original officer report recommended councillors not support the centre proposed for the southern end of the Botanical Gardens, citing concerns raised by Heritage Victoria.

Cr Ben Taylor said he did not have enough information to be able to vote for or against the proposal.

Municipal director of development and growth Natalie Robertson said the trustees, including Bill Bahr who made a presentation to the item, had declined the chance to present an in-depth report to councillors.

Mr Bahr said he presented to select City staff, including Ms Robertson and mayor Cr Daniel Moloney, however said he was not contacted about presenting to council.

Cr Moloney said councillors “owe it to the trustees to have as much information as they possibly can to make a judgement”, and a deferral motion is the best outcome.

Crs Peter Eddy, Mark Harris, Des Hudson, and Samantha McIntosh voted against the deferral, which passed five to four.


Mall design approved

Councillors endorsed the design package for the Bridge Mall redevelopment, as the long-running revitalisation project hit another milestone.

The design will see the mall reopened to traffic, a new play space built and more trees planted, all with the aim of attracting more visitors and businesses in the often maligned area.

Issues with pedestrian safety were raised, however director Natalie Robertson said there were measures in place, and standards would inform the final design.

“I have to stress the intention of the officers and the consultants is to prioritise the pedestrians and cyclists,” she said.

Cr Taylor said he was “very happy” to move the recommendation.

“We can see the amount of for lease signs there, the amount of for sale signs, people are not utilising that space so clearly it needs to be revitalised,” he said.

“It needs to change, either you roof it or you road it, we made the decision to put a road through it and these are now the detailed works to take to the next level.”


One board in charge

The Board of the Art Gallery of Ballarat and the Art Gallery Foundation will merge, to bring the governance of the gallery under one entity.

Councillors agreed that having three entities, the Board, the Foundation and the Gallery Association, had become too difficult to raise funds and have a clear strategy for the centre.

The City has been the only shareholder of the Board and an officers’ report stated the “relationship between the board and the council has not resulted in growth or promotion of the gallery or realisation of the potential of the gallery.”

Under the new governance structure, director of the Gallery Louise Tegart will have a more “stream-lined” management role, according to Cr Harris.

The endorsed memorandum of understanding between the City and the Board will see expressions of interest open to recruit new board members.


Changes to Nerrina names

Councillors agreed to rename streets and renumber several properties in Nerrina, to improve ease of locating the properties, especially for emergency services.

According to an officers’ report, Arapiles Street is not accessible to traffic north of the intersection with Andrews Court and properties along Arapiles Street at the northern end are not easy to locate.

The north-south section of Guineveve Street will be renamed Raynor Street; the southernmost section of Raynor Street, which currently forms part of Nerrina Road, will be renamed Nerrina Road; and Falkirk Road will be extended to join Arapiles Street.

The proposal now goes for public comment and site signage will be displayed to reflect the proposed changes.


Intercultural voices sought

Applications are now open for 10 intercultural ambassadors for 2022 to 2025.

The Intercultural Ambassador Program is designed to “provide leadership, to assist council, migrants, and the wider community in ensuring that interculturalism is a productive and positive experience.”

Previous ambassadors helped deliver over 10 initiatives, including raising $76,000 for kids with cancer, $30,000 for the India COVID-19 appeal, 300 radio programs on Voice FM, three exhibits at the art gallery and library and 30 events delivered across Ballarat.


Library strategy passes

The City of Ballarat Libraries and Learning Strategy 2022-2027 was endorsed and is available for public comment.

The strategy is designed to provide a vision for a “community focused library service that will allow for future growth in Ballarat”.

Cr Belinda Coates said the Ballarat libraries program “bats above average”.

“It’s a real benchmark for inclusion and social connections for our community,” she said.

The strategy has three main priorities, reach out, branch out, and stand out; to increase library usage, expand the library network and “demonstrate regional leadership”.


Contracts awarded across town

Three major tenders have been awarded for the car park at Eastwood Plaza, the Buninyong Streetscape works and various asphalt repairs.

The carpark contract was awarded to Streebson and Ballarat Excavation & Transport for $1.47 million and includes asphalt pavement replacement, new traffic islands and trees and new line marking.

The Buniyong Streetscape project between Warrenheip Street and Learmonth Street was awarded to Enoch Civil for $1.08 million and is designed to improve the environment and accessibility of the village.

The major patch asphalt contract was awarded to Bitu-Mill for $1.26 million for four months of asphalt works of approximately 17,000 square metres of sealed roads in various locations across the municipality.


What to do with question time?

Councillors voted to defer voting on governance rules to allow further discussion on question time guidelines.

The deferred motion states questions must be submitted in writing by 4pm on the day prior to the council meeting, registered questions may be read out, questions received after the deadline will be held over to the next meeting, and like questions may be grouped together with a single answer provided.

Cr Hudson said “further exploration of alternative methods, especially related to question time to make sure nobody is left out of that opportunity to participate” is needed.

“We clearly want the best governance rules systems in place, but we do want to make sure local government is about the people and their opportunity to participate,” he said.