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Council has chance to move ahead in animal shelter saga

THE saga surrounding Ballarat’s animal shelter has spanned almost two years.

And it looks to be at least another two years before the shelter will be complete.

But on Wednesday night, Ballarat councillors look set to vote to engage a designer to prepare concept plans for a new facility.

It is the first sign of a significant step forward in the long-running issue which has impacted staff and animals in the shelter.

In July 2013, the Ballarat City Council awarded the contract for its animal shelter and pound services to the Victorian Animal Aid Trust for three years, ending the RSPCA’s 45-year history with the facility.

The RSPCA’s tender for the job was “noncompliant” because the animal welfare charity declined to take on the responsibility and costs for upgrading the ageing council-owned building.

But Animal Aid backed out of running the shelter services because of unacceptable occupational health and safety issues affecting the welfare of animals and staff at the facility.

City of Ballarat’s city infrastructure general manager Eric Braslis said last August infrastructure works had been carried out at the shelter – being run by the RSPCA.

In the weeks following, councillors voted unanimously to begin the planning and design for the establishment of a new state-of-the-art centre.

The City of Ballarat council meeting agenda outlined that minor works were programmed to ensure the facility could continue to be used for the next three years.

But a council report on the matter also admitted the shelter in its present form had a limited lifespan and it was not in the best interests of the community to invest significant money into a facility which was ageing and would ultimately be demolished.

As the years have passed so has the demand for this services at Ballarat RSPCA’s shelter.

In January, The Courier reported that the shelter was at capacity after it was inundated with surrendered animals during the holiday season and staff feared the situation would only worsen.

Let’s hope for the sake of the vulnerable animals and the staff working at the shelter, this motion is rubber stamped by councillors and works for a new centre commence as promptly as they possibly can.

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