Council will close the South-West Victorian Livestock Exchange by June 30, 2023.
This decision was made at Monday night’s (November 7) Council meeting.
“All Councillors wrestled with this decision,” Mayor Cr Debbie Arnott said.
“But we had to make a decision in the long-term interests of Warrnambool residents.
“In the end the finances, the decline in cattle numbers and the siting of the yards were compelling reasons to close.
“The saleyards have not been making a return to Council in recent years and given the decline in throughput it would have been impossible for the saleyards to operate on a commercial basis and very unlikely that they could break even.
“Farmers have alternative selling venues at Mortlake and Camperdown and cattle can also be sold via online auctions and through direct selling.
“The growth of the city makes the location increasingly unsuitable, which happened when the yards were in Swan Reserve.
“I particularly want to acknowledge the Council staff who work at the saleyards.
“Some have been employed at the yards for many years.
“In more recent years they have continued to keep the saleyards operational while the future of the facility was debated by successive councils.”
Council will now develop a strategic land use plan for the site which will consider the truck wash service and effluent dump, site rehabilitation and associated costs.
“Council will in the work with the community to ensure we get the best possible long-term outcomes for the saleyars site and surrounding buffer land,” Cr Arnott said.
The full resolution passed by Council in a split decision was:
1. That Council cease to operate the South-West Victorian Livestock Exchange as a selling yards by 30 of June 2023.
2. That Council acknowledges employees engaged and involved at the South-West Victorian Livestock Exchange and thanks them for their continuing work and commitment to the provision of that service.
3. That Council acknowledges the dedicated support from the agents associated with the yards and the loyal producers over the years of operation.
4. That Council continue to engage with employees working at the South-West Victorian Livestock Exchange to ensure Council can minimise the impact, previous uncertainty and ultimate outcome of this decision on those employees.
5. That Council authorises the CEO to proceed with the required perimeter fencing and associated works required in response to the WorkSafe improvement notice which was issued in March 2022.
6. That Council commissions a future strategic land use plan for the site and adjacent buffer zone landholdings.
7. That Council authorises the CEO to utilise the CEO delegations to reallocate budgeted funds from the refurbishment of the saleyards to fund the future strategic land use plan (including associated community consultation) for the site. This reallocation and strategic plan should also include consideration of the truck wash service and effluent dump, and site rehabilitation and associated costs. Further, any unallocated funds from the refurbishment be returned to Council's unallocated reserves for future budget considerations as part of the annual budgeting process.