Around 200 people spilled out of the Ballarat Library meeting room on Sunday, forming a group to save the Civic Hall from demolition as currently proposed by the City of Ballarat.
Participants agreed on the beginnings of an alternative vision for Ballarat Civic Hall, which was unanimously decided should remain primarily for the use and benefit of the community.
The meeting was chaired by Jon Stanger. Speakers included historians, planners, academics, professionals and writers. Anne Beggs-Sunter talked about the heritage value of the Civic Hall and the long history of Council’s various decisions, commissioned plans and reports on the Civic Hall.
Michael Wilson, President of the Ballarat Residents and Ratepayers Association Inc informed the meeting that BRRA is willing to auspice the new group. Mr Wilson outlined the major concerns of BRRA, including the failure of Council to listen to the community.
Ailsa Brackley du Bois reported on a recent forum Heritage Conservation as Environmental Conservation sponsored by University of Melbourne & the Heritage Council of Victoria.
“The most contemporary, cutting edge and common sense approach is to make the most of the existing building stock we already have,” said Ms Brackley du Bois. “Environmentally and economically this is the smartest thing to do.”
Ms Brackley du Bois said adaptive re-use was the popular approach around the world and the key message was to find “new tricks with old bricks”.
Former senior officer at Ballarat City Council Ron Egeberg encouraged people to sign the petition at savecivichall.com and urged more people to become involved.
The group was reminded by Jonathan Halls that Council’s actions over the Civic Hall are not compatible with democratic or local government principles.
At the 2 ½ hour meeting many sub-groups were formed to discuss and plan further action in the areas of activation of the Civic Hall, adaptive reuse and alternatives, tourism, governance, communications /media, fundraising, indigenous and youth involvement.
A committee was formed to coordinate ongoing activities, including leaders of the various sub-groups. The committee will meet again this week and all residents are encouraged to get involved by signing the petition at savecivichall.com