Mitchell Shire Council will accelerate the process to construct new off-street car parking in Kilmore in response to community uproar at the planned loss of 34 on-street carparks due to the Kilmore Rejuvenation Project.
At its last council meeting on September 20, councillors resolved to proceed with the project, giving Kilmore’s main street a facelift and creating a new streetscape with better footpaths and more trees.
But the changes will require the removal of carparks, which became a key concern from the community during the consultation.
Mover of the Notice of Motion, Cr Annie Goble, said the off-street parking concept would show council’s commitment to alleviating community concerns.
“It’s been quite disappointing and a little bit frustrating that most of the emphasis and the majority of complaints in relation to the Kilmore Rejuvenation Project has been around the removal of 34 on-street carparks in the main street, rather than actually looking at the big picture and substantial gains there will be with this project,” Cr Goble said.
“To say that council didn’t listen … to the community, is false, we gave this an enormous amount of consideration.
“The complaints were sometimes quite emotional, even to the point of sometimes being irrational, where words like ‘the destruction of 34 carparks’ were used, when there will actually be a net gain of over 30 carparks within the precinct when the project is completed.”
The original project document stated that new off-street parking would be built, resulting in a net gain of parking spaces.
Cr Goble said the decision to remove all-day parking from the street and placing two-hour limits, in response to Sydney Street business owners’ complaints, would increase parking turnover and allow more parking opportunities throughout the day.
Cr Louise Bannister said the rejuvenation project was pivotal to creating a more inviting and prosperous main street, and it was important for council to take advantage of State Government funding available for the project.
“It must be noted that the funding from state is often time sensitive, and if we don’t take advantage of it, the money will be lost from the shire,” she said.
Cr Nathan Clark said the project was a fantastic opportunity for Kilmore and council would be ‘crazy’ not to spend the ‘free money’ provided by the government.
“It’s going to be absolutely fantastic to walk the streets when they’re shaded with all the new trees in the heat of summer. That’s what we want to strive towards is liveability, and that means having a good walkable main street … that’s inviting to tourists.”
Cr Rob Eldridge was the only councillor to speak against, but ultimately voted for the motion.
He said he was for the project and the extra parking on its way, but any extra car parking should be delivered on a needs basis, prioritising other towns with fewer on-street car parking spaces.
“If I go to Seymour I have trouble parking … but I’ve never been to Kilmore and not got a park on the main street,” he said.
“I think it should be done on needs basis. I don’t think the Kilmore main street has the highest need.
“I think great idea, it should be expanded to the whole shire and look at where we’re actually going to have parking for everybody in the shire, not just Kilmore because a few people got upset.”
Cr Bill Chisholm said the reason Kilmore’s parking availability was so good currently was that businesses had shut or moved away, and making the main street look less ‘shabby’ would help reactivate the town’s business and economy.
In response to Cr Eldridge, Cr Goble said she understood it was a shire-wide issue, but the community had been very vocal against council’s active removal of the carparks.
“This is why I’m doing this, to try and actually guarantee some, even if its a small, even if it’s only 10 or 15 to start with, if that’s all we can afford within our budget, that is at least committing to the community,” she said.
Cr Goble said while construction was underway, more carparking options would be needed.
Councillors voted unanimously to accelerate the process of supplying the additional parking places and to look at the costing and the budget allocations in a timely manner.