Planning our parks | ourballarat winter 2022

Parks and gardens form the hearts and souls of cities and suburbs. They are more than meeting places and are integral to our sense of community.

Play equipment at M R Power reserve Sebastopol

Extensive planning and considerations go into Ballarat’s parks and open spaces.

How the City of Ballarat engages with the community and how we develop masterplans for parks and reserves, including trails, tracks and community facilities, is a core aspect of community and our place-building.

One example of this is MR Power Park in Sebastopol, where a community engagement project in 2016 led to the development of a masterplan focused on what was important to the local community.

The Healthy Neighbourhoods Project: MR Power Park - Community Recreation Precinct masterplan seeks to increase physical activity for residents, increase community connections, improve health outcomes, decrease family violence, increase community safety and strengthen perceptions of safety, and improve environmental opportunities and outcomes.

Residents highlighted the opportunity to bring the large open space of MR Power Park, named after Max Power, former Mayor of Sebastopol, to life as a community space.

Then, the area of 22 hectares, featured a few trees and walking tracks. While this space was on our city fringe for such a long time, it has now become a central community space as residential development continues to grow around the park. 

A park for all

MR Power Park now features an extensive inclusive play space which is fully fenced and includes a flying fox, basketball ring, play equipment and seating.

Pedestrian paths have been constructed around the exterior of the park and through the park itself, along with an enclosed dog park with a solar light entrance to make it accessible at all times of day.

Over the next few years, more improvements will take place in the space due to the increasing numbers of residents living nearby.

MR Power Park will soon feature a new seniors’ exercise facility, a youth space with a skate park, 3x3 basketball court, AFL goals, public toilets and barbecue facilities and accessible paths to link them all.

Car park improvements and newly constructed wetlands in the centre of the park will follow with more tree planting throughout the park.

This $740,000 project has received $440,000 in State Government funding through the $5 million Spotlight on Sebastopol project, and $300,000 in City of Ballarat funds.

Fostering healthy communities

City of Ballarat Executive Manager Engaged Communities Pete Appleton says local government works to provide upgrades and improvements to residential environments, using a range of health promotion and participation initiatives to energise community spaces.

“We want to provide opportunities and equipment for all members of the community to use and enjoy the area,” Pete says.

“It’s great to work with community members on the development of a masterplan and then see it gradually implemented. I love the fact that I’m able to play a role that improves things for people in their local area.”

City of Ballarat Senior Landscape Architect Adam Parrott says masterplans are essentially drawings that capture the vision for parks.

“Developing masterplans can be a complex process as there are often many stakeholders with a range of competing views and opinions,” Adam says.

“Our role is helping that vision come together so that it strikes a balance between community needs and desires, the site opportunities and constraints, and broader objectives for public open spaces across the city.”

The large open space at MR Power Park sits right on the cusp of a residential growth zone. There are now many residents living near the park, that was once just paddocks.

Now they can enjoy play spaces, walking tracks and an enclosed off-leash dog park.

City of Ballarat Team Leader City Design David Turley says the MR Power Park project is the culmination of many influences and a lot of work by dedicated City of Ballarat staff and passionate community members spanning many years – all working to enact a dynamic vision for the space.

“There is a clear logic to this space that works on the existing assets such as the playground, the dog park and the site’s natural qualities," he says.

"We are confident the design will continue to provide a great outcome for the community.”

City of Ballarat Council Plan Alignment

The projects, initiatives, and ideas in this article align with the following goals of the City of Ballarat Council Plan 2021-2025:

Goal 2

A healthy, connected and inclusive community

Goal 3

A city that fosters sustainable growth