Elwin Bell with his sons Charlie, 4, and Roy, 19, at the 2019 Mildura Show.

AN EVENT-LED recovery for Sunraysia has been added to Mildura Rural City Council’s roadmap out of COVID-19 restrictions.

Council on Wednesday night adopted recommendations and strategies designed to boost activity and visitation to the region.

Mayor Simon Clemence said: “We hope this will be an event-led recovery.”
Councillors praised the city’s events and project unit for its work with community groups who normally hold annual events.

Cr Gavin Sedgeman said the unit had done a tremendous job.

Among the tranche of recommendations endorsed by council were grants totalling $73,582.50 under the event funding and support program.

The grants are subject to events being held within restrictions at the time and include the 2021 Mildura Pacing Cup Carnival, Yarn Fest, Ouyen Thrift Shop first birthday, Sharkfest Music Festival, India Day Festival of Light and Patchewollock Music Festival.

Cr Mark Eckel, whose port-folio takes in Economic Development and Tourism, said councillors had been resolute that funding budgets be retained and worked the most efficiently as possible.

“Extensive consideration of each event was given to develop the funding categories. Council has been working on this since May,” he said.

“The community is suffering and sacrificing while social distancing and needs to be rewarded if we possibly can.”

Cr Eckel said that the funding adopted all came out of the budget and was ratepayer money.

“Approval was forthcoming for the creation of the discretionary ‘Unspent Event grant Reserve Fund’ to support events that amplify destination branding, attract and support hallmark events and increase overnight visitor expenditure in the region,” he said.

“The sooner we can activate these tourism related events, the better for the business community to have those cash registers ticking over once again.”

Cr Eckel added that it was equally important to build community confidence and resolve to recover from the COVID lockdown and to resurrect the normal way of life.

Events cancelled between July and October this year had been allocated a total of $104,057.

Cr Eckel said cancelled event organisers applications if rolled over to 2021, would be considered with the same application and will be able to provide additional information.

“The meeting also allocated $20,000 under the ‘general manager’ delegation – another special COVID-19 fund to ensure flexibility to fund new and altered events without the necessity to come to a council meeting for authorisation,” Cr Eckel told the Weekly.