ACTIVATING THE RIVER:
An artist’s impression from Horsham Rural City Council shows how the banks of the Wimmera River in Horsham might look as a result of a Wimmera Riverfront Activation Project. The council, which has reserved $842,500 in its proposed 2019-20 budget and is lobbying state and federal governments for $5-million, is considering a raft of ideas surrounding the plan. It is seeking community input but ideas already include a bankside restaurant and café, a major water feature, new pedestrian pathways, boardwalks, artworks and gardens development.
Amulti-million-dollar plan to exploit the socio-economic benefits of the Wimmera River in Horsham has $1.65-million in federal Coalition support.
But the money, which would represent the foundation of a required $5-million in government investment for the project, is likely to hinge on the result of Saturday’s Federal Election.
Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Minister Michael Mccormack joined the Nationals’ Mallee candidate Anne Webster in Horsham to announce the pledge.
Mr Mccormack said during the riverbank announcement at Horsham’s Sawyer Park there was a need to ensure Horsham made the most of the river to attract investment and visitors to the region.
“When you revitalise a river precinct, just like Swan Hill has, just like Mildura has, you attract visitors,” he said.
“Not only that, it also gives impetus to local business to invest more, it creates jobs in the construction of the revitalisation, the beautification and then it creates jobs because small businesses grow from this investment,” he said.
The Horsham Central Activities District and Riverfront Precinct Revitalisation project is one of four key council projects designed to ‘transform Horsham’.
A key part of the project is ‘Wimmera Riverfront Activation Works’, with early work possibly including a ‘Riverfront Plaza’. Concept plans are that the revamped precinct, east from Horsham Showground to Eastgate Drive, would most likely feature a restaurant and a seven-day-a-week café to service the precinct.
Other developments might also include riverside boardwalks, upgraded lights and signs, new pedestrian pathways, a water feature, artworks and garden enhancement.
Ideas are that the project has six stages, starting with the Riverfront Plaza and followed by a Firebrace Street River Arrival plan.
The street plan might involve overhauling the south end of Firebrace Street to strengthen the connection between the heart of Horsham’s shopping precinct and the river.
Future work ideas include improving an interface of the city’s riverfront caravan park, pedestrian links to the central shopping area, pedestrian and cycle paths along the river and a waterplay attraction. The council has yet to formalise plans.
Ms Webster said the announcement was exciting after having many discussions with Horsham mayor Mark Radford and chief executive Sunil Bhalla.
“The Wimmera Riverfront is Horsham’s best central natural asset and we want to make better use of it for residents, businesses and visitors,” she said.
“I have fought so hard to secure funding for this project.
“We need it for the future of this region and look forward to seeing it through to fruition.”
The visit by the Deputy Prime Minister, who joined Dr Webster, Cr Radford and Victorian Member for Lowan Emma Kealy for the announcement, attracted various media representatives, council officials and guests as well as other Mallee candidates.
RIVER MONEY: From left, Deputy Prime Minister Michael Mccormack, Nationals candidate for Mallee Anne Webster and Victorian Member for Lowan Emma Kealy at Horsham’s Sawyer Park. Picture: DEAN LAWSON