FRIENDS of Canadian Corridor Ballarat are excited that the bill to establish the new Canadian Regional Park will be introduced into the Victorian Parliament . Local residents and community groups are thrilled that their hard work to establish a new Canadian Regional Park in Ballarat’s south east is about to become a reality. Since 2012 the Friends of the Canadian Corridor have campaigned for the park’s creation to protect and enhance Ballarat’s forested eastern skyline, to open the area up to the community and to protect wildlife.
Then Leader of the Opposition Daniel Andrews, at the time of the 2014 election campaign, promised $2million saying, “We will establish this park and give it back to the people of Ballarat.” Local Member Geoff Howard supported the endeavour and vowed, “We will heal the landscape, protect the wildlife and open the doors to locals.”
Since the election the Department of Environment, Water , Land and Planning has undertaken broad consultation with the local community with over 400 positive responses received. The department has also surveyed the forest land in preparation for the bill. FoCC member Linda Zibell said, “We will have an enlivening park that supports our precious wildlife and yet is there for all of Ballarat to enjoy. We want a park for the people while keeping conservation the priority.”
FoCC Member Bob Hartmann said, “Ballarat is most fortunate to have for its future enjoyment, the entire eastern side of Ballarat now bounded by a great forest and recreational park.”
FoCC member Jeff Rootes said, “This new park means Ballarat people will have a forest park right on their doorstep for ever.” The 629 hectare Canadian Regional Park will be created from 318 hectares of former State Forest and 311 hectares of cleared ex-plantation land, handed back to the government in 2011.
The land has effectively been in limbo for several years with rubbish dumping, weed infestation and erosion problems. Over time the new park will see short and long distance walking and cycle tracks, and visitor facilities built. Inappropriate vehicle tracks, eroded areas, degraded creeks will be restored and the ex-plantation land will be revegetated and managed for the recreation and conservation needs of future generations. The park already contains areas of environmentally significant vegetation including rare Yarra Gums and many wildflowers. It is recognised Koala Habitat. Timeline 2012: The Friends of the Canadian Corridor formed in November 2012 with the express purpose of protecting and conserving the Canadian Forest and ex-plantation areas. At that time there was a genuine fear for the ex-plantation land since the then Department of Sustainability and Environment saw it as surplus and were considering disposing of it. If that had happened the chance for a Regional Park and to protect the scenic buffer on the eastern edge of Ballarat would have been lost for all time.
2013: The Friends hosted forums and consultations with landscape planners, residents, forest experts, government agencies and local forest user groups, which resulted in the development of a “imagine a multi-use forest park” document. This plan was refined over time to include the myriard of differing conservation and recreational interests of participants and adjoining residents. The Friends now number in their hundreds and represent forty community groups including the local Waddawurrung people, field naturalists and bird watchers, dog walkers, orienteers, cyclists, runners, bee keepers plus dozens more. 2014: In the lead up to the 2014 state election the Friends engaged and consulted with all political parties, culminating in a formal launch with local politicians and candidates of the “park” proposal in a “smoking” ceremony in the forest with the Wadawurrung elders. The Friends see the introduction of the bill into parliament as Daniel Andrews keeping his word and promise. For local residents it is a great delight to know that the land will be restored and a great regional park will soon be established in south east Ballarat.