A VISION to transform Colac into a “botanic garden city” has divided Colac’s civic leaders.
Three of seven Colac Otway Shire councillors wanted to postpone a Colac central business district and entrances plan until the council made a decision on Colac’s alternative truck route.
Cr Chris Smith said the CBD and entrances project was a long-term plan which needed to account for a heavy vehicle route.
“Until the highway is decided, it’s very difficult to decide what should happen with Murray Street and even the streets surrounding it,” Cr Smith said.
But postponing the project would have jeopardised $75,000 the council received from Regional Development Victoria to form the plan.
A report to the council said councillors must adopt the final plan before June 2012.
“If this timeframe is not met, council may be faced with refunding all or part of the grant,” the report said.
The CBD and entrances report says its proposals could cost between $42 million and $49 million, including:
- Extending a botanic-garden theme to the rest of Colac.
- Putting powerlines underground to allow for tree canopies.
- A shared pedestrian-traffic zone on Gellibrand Street near Memorial Square.
- A 40-kilometre-an-hour limit in the CBD.
The report also says the council should investigate future options for a former Civic Home Hardware site in Railway Street, which “could be used for housing, community or commercial use or as a car park”.
Community reference group member Anthony McDonald said at least “a couple” of reference group members had concerns about the impact of the truck route plans.
“The plan was done on the assumption that heavy vehicles would be removed from Murray Street,” he said.
“We want to know how we’re going to improve Murray Street and the fact remains you can’t get away from it – how long is it going to take for heavy vehicles to be removed?”
The council will ask State Planning Minister Matthew Guy for permission to exhibit a planning scheme amendment to carry out the proposals, and the council will consider the proposals in future budgets.
Cr Brian Crook said the plan was “conceptual” and there would be further community consultation before the council acted on the recommendations, and mayor Stephen Hart said it was possible for the council to work on both plans at once.