MITCHELL Shire Council listed the restoration of Seymour’s Old Goulburn River Bridge as a top advocacy priority at last month’s ordinary meeting.
Cr Fiona Stevens moved that council add the bridge project to its major project advocacy list alongside projects such as the Kilmore bypass, Camerons Lane diamond interchange at Beveridge and a Greenhill Reserve sport, recreational and environmental precinct in Wallan.
Council committed to a $4.3 million restoration of the bridge in March.
Cr Stevens said the restoration of the bridge had strong community backing and the potential to drive tourism in the area.
“The project is one both council and community have previously demonstrated significant commitment to progress,” she said.
“Approximately $1 million has already been invested since 2006 on research, permits, structural works, condition reports, consultant reports, staff reports, engineering designs and community consultation.
“The bridge is fondly referred to as the wooden wonder by many locals and it holds, significantly, national heritage, state heritage and local heritage significance. It’s officially registered accordingly.”
Cr Stevens said council also had ‘a very clear legislative obligation’ to preserve the bridge in light of its heritage status.
She said all possible funding opportunities to progress work on the bridge would need to be explored.
“In August 2021 a report with engineering drawings for the agreed final design will come to council, along with the indicative final costs,” she said.
“As it currently stands in the 2022-23 budget year we have $2.5 million put aside for the bridge as grants and a $200,000 cash contribution.
“To include this on the Mitchell Shire advocacy list will further demonstrate how council is valuing the bridge and importantly it will strengthen our position to advocate to government, Heritage Victoria and others for support and funding assistance.
“It would be indefensible to go asking for support from others without clearly demonstrating our own commitment.”
Cr Stevens’ motion was unanimously carried, with several other councillors voicing their support.
Cr Rob Eldridge said putting the bridge project on council’s priority advocacy list made sense, but said it was not an approach that would work for every project.
“I just want to sound a cautionary note that if you have too many things on the list, then we get none,” he said.
“It’s about making sure that when we advocate for things, we do it in a targeted way and we don’t do it with a smorgasbord of options so that we don’t come out with 10 options, we give them the ones that are most likely.”
Cr Bill Chisholm said he could see ‘significant community support’ for the bridge project in the Seymour community.