COLAC Otway Shire Council is considering banning cars from the Colac Botanic Gardens.
The council’s public open space strategy said removing cars from the botanic gardens could “address the current conflict with pedestrian use of the gardens in the proposed new master planning process for the gardens”.
Colac resident Lindsay Hulm, an advocate for keeping vehicle access in the gardens, said a car ban would be a “terrible” outcome for the elderly, families and tourists.
“I think it makes the gardens unique actually. It’d be a shame for people not to be able to drive through,” Mr Hulm said.
“Providing you can’t park on the gardens themselves, I can’t see any disadvantage,” he said.
“The fact that it’s one-way traffic and it’s limited to five kilometres an hour or under, I don’t see any danger to pedestrians.”
The recommendation is among more than a hundred in the $70,000 strategy, a joint project with the Department of Planning and Community Development, Department of Sustainability and Environment and Barwon Water which aims to ensure the community has enough open spaces, recreation and sports facilities.
The report said Colac had a “reasonable” distribution of sports reserves but a limited range of facilities and no rectangular grounds to suit soccer or rugby.
It recommends upgrading Western Oval, Colac Cricket Ground, Eastern Reserve and South Colac Oval to cater for informal activities, and exploring the possibility of rectangular fields.
The report also aims to encourage people to walk and cycle by improving links around Colac.
Victoria’s Planning Minister Matthew Guy needed to authorise the plan before the council can prepare an amendment to the Colac Otway planning scheme.
Mayor Brian Crook said the community provided “positive” feedback to the strategy through written submissions, an online survey, workshops and information sessions.
“It was pleasing that a variety of community and club members put forward their ideas as part of the consultation process,” Cr Crook said.
“The council received submissions from Beeac in the north, right through to the coast at Apollo Bay, with plenty of suggestions for improvements to existing public spaces, as well as suggesting additional sites for inclusion in the open space database,” he said.