Quiet budget for Docklands

Quiet budget for Docklands

By David Schout

While funding was allocated for key projects in surrounding areas, investment in Docklands infrastructure appeared light-on in the City of Melbourne’s recently released draft 2020-21 budget.

In recent months the council’s budget was completely repositioned to respond to demand for short-term measures related to COVID-19.

What it has termed as a “recovery budget”, the council has fallen into the red for the first time in 30 years.

However, the $168.5 million capital works infrastructure program to “create jobs and support Melbourne’s economy” still managed to surpass last year’s “record” spend of $166 million.

It appeared, though, to give little concrete backing for the Docklands area.

Highlights included huge investment in the Queen Victoria Market renewal, Southbank Boulevard redevelopment, Town Hall renovations and CBD bike lanes.

But a graphic from the council’s website (above) shows a lack of locked-in spending within Docklands.

Again, funding details on the long-awaited Harbour Esplanade upgrade were missing as the council likely waits on movements from the state government and the AFL with regards to its renewal of Marvel Stadium.

It did, however, pledge to “activate Docklands with a focus on Victoria Harbour” in its 2020- 21 initiatives.

“In light of the closure of Central Pier, work with Development Victoria to identify spe- cific initiatives that will increase visitation to Victoria Harbour and disbursement throughout Docklands hospitality and retail offerings,” it read.

It also pledged to “explore opportunities for water transport and tourism and a strategic feasibility study of a maritime heritage museum experience (in partnership with Development Victoria and Heritage Victoria).”

The council has committed to drawing visitors back to Docklands once the worst of the COVID-19 restrictions have passed, although details on this are yet to be released.

A giant street party is one specific idea being thought over, stretching potentially all the way from Carlton to Docklands and Southbank in a celebration of reopening.

After June’s Firelight Festival was cancelled, Docklands resident and Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the council understood the plight of struggling local workers.

“We know many Docklands businesses are doing it tough, so when restrictions are lifted, we will work with businesses and precinct leaders to drive visitation to the Docklands area.”

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