A city driven by people
I note with concern proposals to open up the Bridge Mall to traffic once again. The traders in the mall have good reason to be concerned as should all CBD traders as this action is symptomatic of a city driven by dollars and not primarily by people.
It is the start of the end of a vibrant city centre unless major consideration is given to the underlying cause for the gradual reduction in business activity in the CBD. The current trend in residential housing development in Ballarat to cater for population growth is focused almost exclusively on broad acre single detached horizontal development out on the fringes. These new suburbs are fully serviced and almost self contained and the populations living there have no real incentive or requirement to engage with the CBD. It's as if there is a conscious decision to transport the CBD from where it has been for the last 150 years or so to the new suburbs on the western extremity of the urban area beyond Alfredton.
The CBD, on the other hand, is effectively starved of people after 6.00pm in the evening which effectively starves the businesses located there as well. This trend has occurred and is still occurring in all larger urban areas, but there is one significant difference between what's happening here and what has occurred in urban centres that are vibrant and active. The difference is people living in or close to the city centre in developments that can include medium to high density living with every conceivable service close at hand. Ballarat city is very much an historic city with some magnificent architecture and streetscapes, the preservation of which seem to be sufficient reason for restricting or prohibiting any new development or ideas, in case there is a perceived negative impact on the heritage of the precinct. In other words, there appears to be continuing conflict between heritage and development.
Unfortunately, the heritage arguments seem to always win. Almost every urban area in the world has this same issue to some degree but this does not stop development. The city centre has dozens of existing building and dozens of vacant infill sites on which residential/ commercial developments could occur without impacting on the heritage of the area. In fact, I would contend that the only impact would be a positive; revitalising the business, social, entertainment and cultural environments, and in fact, enhancing the heritage of the area by attracting more people to appreciate just what we have to offer. Unfortunately, while the development emphasis is on the fringes, the city centre is dying.
The CBD should once again become the "centre" of this fine city, not somewhere out in the burbs that has no heritage value whatsoever or character. Let's not make Ballarat just another large housing estate but a city with its own heart and character where people can live, not just reside in their "little boxes made of ticky tacky that all look just the same".
Ross Proud, Ballarat
spreading danger of illegal tobacco
Props to Councillor Des Hudson for taking up the challenge on the illegal chop chop tobacco sales in Ballarat. The sale of this black market product has been going on for years in this area. The very nature of its illegality should have been enough for council to have done something sooner. The gangs and the local criminal element funds itself through local government inaction and apathy. Who knows where this money ends up and what it further funds in their quest for exploiting gullible children. The Ballarat council has an obligation to protect Ballarat people from this horrible and untested product that causes untold health damage to its consumers.Well done Des. Hopefully the Ballarat health department takes its responsibility seriously about protecting the health of its citizens.
Nick Cowan, Delacombe