At the halfway mark of the City of Ballarat Council Plan 2017-2021 Ballarat residents have good reason to be confident in the future of their city, Ballarat Mayor Samantha McIntosh has said.
At the end of 2016, the City of Ballarat Council asked the Ballarat community to nominate top priorities for the four years of the present Council term.
Based on the community feedback received, the Council Plan outlined a strategic vision for Ballarat to be a city that is bold, vibrant and thriving, with a central focus on infrastructure delivery, service provision and job creation.
Mayor McIntosh said that with 2019 marking the mid-point of the Council Plan, it was worth examining how the city is tracking against the vision laid out in the Council Plan.
“Across a range of measures, the answers are very encouraging indeed,” Mayor McIntosh said.
“Our economy is in robust good health, with economic output growing from $12.7 billion in 2016 to $14.3 billion in 2018.”
Ballarat’s median house price reached $400,000 in the June quarter of this year, up from $320,000 in 2016.
“And more people continue to make their homes in our city, with Australian Bureau of Statistics figures showing the city’s population reaching 107, 325 in 2018.
“That’s an increase of 13,824 since 2011 and an annual average growth of 1.8 per cent, making us the fastest growing city in regional Victoria.”
Against this exciting backdrop, several key projects identified in the Council Plan have already been delivered across the city.
Mars Stadium, Ballarat Sports Events Centre, Lucas Community Hub, Sebastopol Library and Civic Hall have all opened their doors, and Her Majesty’s Theatre is soon to reopen following extensive stage one upgrade works.
Mayor McIntosh said the city had been proactive in lobbying for federal and state government support for these and other key strategic projects for Ballarat.
“This year we’ve seen substantial commitments in the state budget for a host of projects including stage two works at Her Majesty’s, BSEC and Mars Stadium and lighting for Lake Wendouree “
“All of these projects represent a major boost for local jobs both in both their construction and operational phases.”
“In this term, Council has worked through and completed many longstanding and complex issues, including the restoration and reopening of the Civic Hall. We’ve worked collaboratively with the State Government to secure 1000 public sector jobs at the GovHub site in the Ballarat CBD.
“And we’ve supported the Ballarat Agricultural and Pastoral Society on the relocation of the showgrounds to the Federation University Mount Rowan Campus.”
“We delivered our first Active Women and Girls Strategy to address barriers to female participation in sport in our community and approved a Smarter Parking Plan to deliver a flexible and fair parking solution for our CBD.”
Mayor McIntosh said there were still several significant projects to come in the remainder of this Council term.
“Council has always been mindful that harnessing the opportunities of growth should not come at the expense of the qualities that make Ballarat unique, like our built-form heritage and great community facilities. The projects set out in the Council Plan, including those already delivered and those scheduled to start soon, are aimed at making sure we strike this balance.”
“We’ve committed $15 million over three years to revitalise the Bakery Hill entrance to our CBD, including reopening Bridge Street to traffic.”
“Ballarat Central Library will get a $1.9 million upgrade, while the next stages of works at Civic Hall and Her Majesty’s Theatre will build on the enhancements to both Ballarat icons.”
“We’ll progress our Urban Forest Action Plan by planting thousands of trees across our city, getting us closer to a 40 per cent tree canopy by 2040.”
Mayor McIntosh said the Council and the community could be proud of how far Ballarat had come in the past three years.
“Our strong economy, our unique heritage and enviable lifestyle mean Ballarat has ample reason to be confident in its future.
“These factors have us positioned to continue to thrive, not only in the remainder of this Council term but in the decade ahead.”