LIVE: Bendigo council meeting

Reporter William Vallely will be tweeting and posting a live video on Facebook of the council meeting from 6pm. Follow him on @williamvallely or watch the live stream here

7.45PM Councillors endorse shortlisted projects it would like to see achieved as part of Plan Greater Bendigo. 

The shortlisted projects are: 

  • Marong Business Park
  • Bendigo Airport – Business Precinct and Terminal
  • Revitalise Bendigo TAFE
  • Short term hostel/student accommodation in the city centre
  • Coordinated program of new school development to meet growing demand
  • Upgrade the rail track between Bendigo and Kyneton
  • Connectivity for small towns and neighbouring regional centres
  • Bendigo metro rail – continuing implementation
  • Community hubs
  • Dja Dja Wurrung corporate and community centre
  • Bendigo Law Courts
  • Bendigo Railway Station activity centre
  • Bendigo ‘Gov Hub’ office co-location of government agencies
  • Golden Dragon Museum/Bendigo Chinatown
  • Reimagining the Bendigo Creek
  • Better using our existing water resources
  • Plan for a renewable energy future
  • New waste management arrangements

Mayor Margaret O’Rourke said: “We know that we are going to grow to a population of 200,000 – that is what we are seeing. So how do we accommodate this growth?”

Cr O’Rourke said the plan, which details 18 infrastructure projects, is an important document to show how the city will handle increased population. 

The plan is “deliberately ambitious, because you should aim high,” Cr Andrea Metcalf said.

“This is a very proactive plan, and that’s how it should be,” Cr Rod Fyffe said.

“I’m staggered at the rate of change (in central and northern Victoria), and I expect that to continue,” Cr James Williams said.

7.25PM Discussing the Greater Bendigo housing strategy implementation scheme, Cr Williams said the strategy was a positive way of looking at the ‘conflict’ of having a city in the bush. 

“Things are changing, and we need to acknowledge that,” he said.

“Yes it does conflict with the way some of us want to live, but it is required.”

Cr Jennifer Alden said “we must support development of characteristics that will make people want to live in our city in the future, and as such this implementation plan must be front and centre”. 

The plan focuses on a compact city, 10-minute neighbourhoods and improved transport links. 

7.15PM Councillors are discussing the draft local law 2017, which has been updated, with a number of historic laws removed and others combined. 

Cr Yvonne Wrigglesworth said the new laws will give council powers to enforce smoke-free zones across the municipality.  

7.10PM The Axedale community will soon have a new place of last resort during a bushfire.

Councillors voted to make Axedale Primary School oval, 81 High Street Axedale, that very place. 

According to a report prepared for council, the oval was selected as the most suitable, being a watered green playing field with good access for parking and pedestrians. 

Councillor George Flack said the decision was “sensible”. 

Previously, Axedale residents would have been forced to go to neighbouring towns in the event of a bushfire 

7.00PM Councillors discussing public toilet strategy, to a background of giggles. Bit of a pun-fest going on here, not a great standard, mind you.

Councillor Andrea Metcalf described the strategy as ‘visionary’ – a favoured word of this current crop of councillors. 

Councillors endorse the public toilet strategy, which will explore the idea of partnering with businesses to improve public access to toilets in the municipality.

6.45pm Not much getting past the councillors this evening, rejecting the demolition of a dwelling and shed in Kennington, the development of two houses in Huntly, and the removal of a tree in Epsom. Bosh

On the Epsom tree, Cr James Williams said some people who consider it a “harsh decision”.

“If we continue to remove trees willy nilly – we’ll end up with a concrete jungle. It’s important that we protect the environment going forward,” he said.

Welcome to our live blog of the Bendigo council meeting. Slow start to the New Year, with not many in the public gallery tonight.

Related:

Full January 24 council agenda