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Docklands is a budget winner

28 May 2013

By Bethany Williams

Docklands has received its best council budget result ever, with the City of Melbourne set to invest in a range of projects.

Docklands will receive an $11.1 million infrastructure investment, according to last month’s council draft 2013-14 budget.

The first budget of the council’s four-year term allows $6.5 million for the completion of the Docklands Library and Community Centre, $3.6 million for the Docklands Boating and Family Services Hub and a further $1 million to continue implementing projects from the Dockland Community and Place Plan (DCPP).

According to City of Melbourne director of city design Rob Adams, the majority of the DCPP funding will be spent on the Queens Lawn project at the Fox Classic Car Museum.

Mr Adams said City of Melbourne was finalising a long-term lease for the space with Lindsay Fox.

He said the rest of the $1 million would be used for smaller projects including movable landscapes and work towards the restoration of some of the heritage sheds that are sitting under the Bolte Bridge.

The budget also allows $50,000 for a feasibility study into a Docklands ferry service.

According to councillor Kevin Louey, the study will look into the potential for a ferry service between different ports in Docklands.

The localised service could potentially tie in with the larger scale western suburbs commuter ferry service the State Government is investigating and with WTC’s ferry service between North Wharf and the city.

Mr Adams said the long-term view was that part of Harbour Esplanade would become a ferry terminal.

Additionally, the City of Melbourne has agreed to a $300,000 one-year funding deal with Destination Docklands.

Destination Docklands had originally requested $250,000 for core marketing and $100,000 for event activation per year for the next three years.

But Destination Docklands CEO Anita Donnelly said she was happy with the agreement and said it showed City of Melbourne believed in Docklands and had confidence in the organisation.

She said council would assess a longer-term agreement but was unable to agree to the three-year proposal as part of the budget deliberations because it only concerned a one-year period.

Additionally, $220,000 has been allocated in the budget for an enhanced winter activation program.

The Friday night winter fireworks will be extended for five extra weeks, running through July and August.

Unfortunately it isn’t all good news.

The plan to introduce a $5 charge for the once free tourist shuttle has raised concerns.

Docklands Chamber of Commerce President Stephen Clement said Docklands needed the shuttle bus to continue to be free.

“It’s a very attractive service at the moment and the fact that council wants to introduce a fee really takes away from that,” he said.

“The chamber will be providing feedback to council outlining our opposition to the introduction of a fee.”

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said he considered the charge to be a reasonable revenue lever.

Cr Louey said he didn’t consider the amount unreasonable compared to other operators.

He said council would monitor the shuttle service and would re-evaluate if passenger numbers dropped considerably.

The 2013-14 draft budget can be viewed on the council website, at council libraries, the town hall and at the Docklands Hub. Written submissions will be accepted until June 7.

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