Pioneer Park plan isdemocracy in action

AS ONE of the promoters of the proposed camp ground at Pioneer Park and as someone who has lived within about 1km of the location for over 45 years, I respond to the letter from Sandra Brown published on Monday, July 14.

It is interesting to be able to have a comment from a current user of Pioneer Park to add to the mix of the debate on the matter.

It is just a shame Ms Brown did not have her facts quite straight before sending in her contribution.

There are seven issues which deserve comment:

1. There is not now, nor has there ever been, any proposal to install a dump point at Pioneer Park. The preferred location for a dump facility, should one be created, has been nominated as being in the vicinity of the council works depot in Trewin Street.

2. There has been no agreement that camping would necessarily be free either. What is being proposed is a “no- or low-cost” facility where the cost to camp would truly reflect the facilities which would be provided.

3. Ms Brown goes on to complain that Pioneer Park was not established for the purpose of providing free camping for “transient” recreational vehicles and expresses concern that such a facility would “chip away” at the land space. Pioneer Park is around eight hectares in size, almost the size of a small farm, and to suggest that six or maybe even 10 RVs parking in a quiet corner overnight would diminish the amenity of the current users is laughable.

The rear, or northern most section, of the park has been maintained by council, but never used by the community, for anything, since the facility was first established by the Shire of Ballarat well over 20 years ago. The use of the park to provide a legal overnight parking area for RVs would only enhance tourism by providing a facility which is not currently available in Ballarat.

It will reduce the instances of illegal camping which can be seen across the city most nights and, despite Ms Brown’s contention to the contrary, at “no cost” whatsoever to the community.

4. To suggest that vandals will over-run the facility is to completely overlook the fact that there is currently no vandal activity to be observed on the vast area of unfenced open space surrounding the school which is opposite, so why would it occur within the park any more than it currently does?

5. There would be no conflict with regular dog walkers. In any event, more than 50 per cent of RV tourists travel with pets. Ms Brown seems to suggest that camping is proposed within the established car parking area and that locals will be deprived of a parking space.

Such is simply not so, the location of the actual camping area would be well to the north, to the rear of the park and away from the areas where the car park and established walking tracks are located.

6. The Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia Ltd, which is the peak body for this type of RV equipment, now has 200 RV-friendly towns spread across Australia each of which features a location where a caravan park runs alongside a camp ground all survive in a harmonious fashion. The Pioneer Park proposal would link in with these existing highly successful facilities and might even eventually lead to Ballarat achieving an “RV-friendly city” designation.

7. Ms Brown should desist from criticising the councillors of the City of Ballarat for they have taken no decision “one way or the other”. All councillors have done, thus far, is to instruct their officers to “review a formal request for the creation of a facility” lodged by a group of local residents who are supported by the club to which they belong and report back to council.

This, Ms Brown, is democracy in action.

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