THE City of Melbourne last week said its Draft 2015-16 Annual Plan and Budget continues the council's commitment to deliver innovative projects in the areas of sustainability, transport and community services to accommodate a booming city.
Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said that while the Queen Victoria Market (QVM) Renewal Project is the cornerstone of this year's budget, work will continue on a number of major projects to meet the needs of a fast-growing population.
"We are continuing to turn grey into green by repurposing some of our unused roads into open space through projects like University Square, the Southbank Boulevard upgrade, Eastwood and Rankins and the Railway and Miller Street Reserve park expansions," Cr Doyle said.
"We are this year spending $3.75 million of a projected $15 million over the next three years to create parks that would otherwise cost us more than $225 million to purchase."
The council has allocated $80.64 million to QVM in the 2015-16 financial year, including the settlement on the Munro site on 1 July at $76 million and a further $4.64 million directed to the QVM Renewal Fund.
"We have just completed our third round of community consultation on the market renewal and are in the process of incorporating the feedback from more than 4300 people who took part into a final draft master plan," Cr Doyle said.
"Depending on the scope of the project, it will mean 9000 new jobs at the market, with 12,000 jobs in the surrounding precinct and thousands of construction jobs."
Councillor Cathy Oke, Chair of the Transport portfolio, said $2.5 million would be spent on closing gaps in the cycling network as part of the final year of the 2012-16 Bicycle Plan.
Cr Oke said the funding will add the finishing touches to the plan, with projects including bike lanes on Elizabeth Street between Victoria and Queensberry streets, bike lanes on Epsom Road in Kensington and lane improvements on Peel Street.
Other transport projects include $790,000 towards road safety improvements to address accident hot spots and $200,000 towards Walking Plan projects that will improve pedestrian safety and connectivity in the central city.
Councillor Arron Wood, Chair of the Environment portfolio said a number of sustainability projects would help Council save on operating costs while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions and Council's carbon footprint.
"We're accelerating our solar and LED programs by installing more than $800,000 worth of solar panels on facilities right across the municipality including our Multicultural Hub, Carlton Baths and the North Melbourne Recreation Centre," Cr Wood said.
"In addition, we're putting close to $1.6 million into upgrading our street lights to more energy efficient LED lights. These projects will substantially reduce our electricity bills – good for the environment and good for business."