A delighted Mildura Mayor Simon Clemence on the site of the next stage of the Mildura Riverfront redevelopment. Photo: PAUL MENSCH

By JOHN DOOLEY

MILDURA Rural City Council (MRCC) has welcomed a multi-million dollar commitment from the Victorian Government to further transform our city’s iconic riverfront precinct.

This week the Victorian Government announced $5million for Stage 1a of the ‘Village Square’, which will be a focal point for the second-stage of the Riverfront redevelopment which comes on top of another $500,000 which granted by the government for the upgrading of the Powerhouse building.

Mildura Mayor Simon Clemence said the funding would help transform the area surrounding the current Powerhouse, building on the work already completed on the broader Riverfront Precinct in recent years.

“The Village Square will be at the heart of the next stage of development along the riverfront and include a cafe, landscaping, car parking and public amenities,” Cr Clemence said. “These features will build even stronger connections between our CBD and the riverfront. This funding is a significant boost for the second stage of our riverfront redevelopment which will provide additional services and amenities for local residents, while providing yet another draw card for tourism and the economic benefits it will generate.

“The plan is to continue to develop the riverfront all the way up to the Lock area, and also up to and over the other side of the railway line, to create further connectivity between the riverfront and the township.”

Cr Clemence said that this will include the construction of some purpose-built buildings and the refurbishment of the old Powerhouse.

“We want to preserve the Powerhouse for historical reasons and allow the theatre company to continue to have use of it,” he said.

“The immediate area in the proximity of the Powerhouse will be turned into a Village Square, which will include a grassed area in the middle, which will be able to be utilised for community events and functions.” 

Cr Clemence said that there are a number of other suggestions for the site including a cultural centre, or new visitor’s centre, cafes and restaurant and a convention space. “Almost anything that you can turn your mind to – there was even the mention of a whisky distillery and a chocolate factory by Steve Timmis!” he said.

“But importantly, this is a $5million people’s space, and with that will come valuable tourism as well and we want it to be a focal point when people come to visit Mildura.”

In regard to the project’s time frame, Cr Clemence said that architectural concepts will need to be developed, and tenders sought, but the expectation of Government is for these projects to get under way soon.

“Government expects us to get boots on-the-ground fairy quickly to provide employment opportunities to assist in the recovery of the Victorian economy, including our own,” he said. “It won’t happen tomorrow, but there is an expectation that it will happen very quickly.”

$7.143million worth of investment

The Riverfront works are being funded from Government’s $2.7billion Building Works Package, which will also fund other projects in Mildura and the Mallee including Worker Housing in Mildura, with $800,000 to go toward the redevelopment Ramsay House, which will provide worker housing for the region’s migrant and seasonal workers, and help address the shortfall in housing supply for the seasonal worker population. 

Other projects include:

• Robinvale Worker Housing $500,000 to support Swan Hill Rural City’s rolling construction program – building much needed worker accommodation.

• The Ouyen Community Gym Project − $43,000 – Stage 1 of the project will deliver restoration of the building’s roof and provide a space for the local community. 

• Sea Lake Visitor Centre − $300,000 to create a visitor Centre in the Buloke Shire Council Office, attracting tourists, and future tourist dollars to the local community.

Sporting Precinct not a winner in this funding round

Cr Clemence was asked if he was disappointed that the $10million needed to complete the full-scope of works for the Mildura South Regional Sporting Precinct (MSRSP) has not been forthcoming.

“While I am forever the optimist, and remain hopeful, the fact of the matter is that the Government has its own agenda in regard to the recovery program from the coronavirus and it has already splashed out almost $3billion, of which the riverfront funding is a part, and so at this stage they don’t appear to be particularly interested in giving us that $10million. The reality is however, that it will come. It’s like anything- if you ask long enough – eventually they will give you the money. I just don’t think it will come in this current environment.

The MSRSP is a $38.5million project which has been funded by both Federal and State Governments and the MRCC. The land where it is to be built is currently being readied to allow the first stage of the construction to commence. The complete the full scope of the design concept, another $10million is needed – something the Victorian State Government has been asked to provide.