Published 5 August 2017, The Courier, Ballarat
Committee for Ballarat believes that we need to embrace change to thrive. Our city can continue on a journey of business as usual, but we will not prosper nor thrive with that approach. Unless decisions are implemented expeditiously we will not engender confidence that Ballarat is a city for business development. Adopting an unambitious position will see Ballarat being by-passed, with opportunities going to other regional centres that have put their hand up for progressive development.
Our focus at Committee, on behalf of our members, is on promoting a vibrant and prosperous city and region for our community, businesses and visitors. We are intent on creating employment opportunities in a variety of fields and an activated and revitalised CBD is critical for that job growth. Both the Civic Hall and Railway Station projects are being undertaken after an extensive engagement and consultation process with the community and are vital to a renewed central area.
The redevelopment of the Ballarat Station precinct will create 140 jobs during construction and 30 ongoing jobs once complete. But it is more than this; a revamped station precinct will create a modern gateway for our city. It is a vital piece of the jigsaw in modernising our city but also in preserving its history. The redevelopment will breathe new life into the station precinct and CBD.
It will also provide an opportunity for Ballarat to take its place in the lucrative business events market, with the redevelopment to include conferencing facilities, a 300-seat theatrette and a 300-seat banquet room. The estimated value of business events in Australia is $23.1 billion per annum. Why would we not want to attract some of this to Ballarat?
The Civic Hall redevelopment is also about new jobs in town. We have advocated for many years for such a development and it will be transformational for our CBD. It is a $100 million site redevelopment and $48 million has been allocated for the relocation of government staff to the site when it’s finished. Its construction will also create 500 jobs, which is exactly what we need to happen. The provision of 600 new jobs and the relocation of 400 jobs onto one site is unprecedented in Ballarat and the value to our CBD cannot be underestimated.
The investment of the state government in key strategic projects is vital for the future growth and prosperity of Ballarat and the region. These two significant projects align with both the current government’s and the opposition’s ambitions for the growth of regional Victoria. We are often compared with Bendigo where the CBD is thriving with new offices, arts developments and a confident business sector.
Our reputation is at stake and Committee is concerned that we may not be regarded as sufficiently progressive and forward thinking to welcome generational renewal.
After all, it’s about Ballarat’s future prosperity, the activation of the CBD and jobs. That’s why we have advocated for investment for many years. The government is now looking at Ballarat to provide leadership and delivery.
We must seize the opportunities presented to us and unite to achieve delivery on projects, otherwise we will watch on whilst other centres thrive and we stand still. Committee will continue to advocate vigorously for jobs growth and opportunity because our members are investing in the future every day.
Chair, Committee for Ballarat