WORKS on the Sale Livestock Exchange refurbishment project are expected to begin next year.
The commitment to refurbish the existing sale yards has come after a decade of confusion and wrangling over the facility’s future.
Wellington Shire Council had previously planned to close the existing Saleyards Rd-Dawson St yards and establish a purpose built facility at Fulham.
Council had even purchased land for that purpose, but failed to gain the full agreement of farmers, stock agents and the saleyard operators that the Fulham location was the right one.
Council committed to the three year, $3.3 million project in closed session in April, and with the saleyard’s lessee Victorian Livestock Exchange has now begun to plan the existing facility’s refurbishment.
Council will now have to consider its options for the site it had purchased at Hopkins Rd, Fulham.
Wellington Shire mayor Scott Rossetti said the refurbishment would ensure the Sale Livestock Exchange was well-prepared to cater for expected demand during the coming years.
“We’ll work hand in hand with the VLE, ensuring the work we undertake positions our saleyards in the very best possible way for our stock agents and farmers,” he said.
“A number of studies and cost estimates undertaken over the past few years highlight that our saleyards provide an important contribution to the Wellington economy.
“As such, it is satisfying for council to be in a position to move forward in the sound knowledge that refurbishment of the existing facility is by far the most responsible and cost effective option,” he said
Cr Rossetti said during coming months, council and VLE would meet with the farming community and stock agents, to provide input into the refurbishment works.
“We will also look at how best to deliver the project, including whether it can be completed sooner than the original three year period,” he said.
“The refurbishment will include, among other things, a roofed soft floor selling area.
“Previous consultation tells us that this is critical to the future success of the facility.
“Council has listened to the feedback provided and is working with VLE to bring the facility well and truly into the 21st century.
“Our first priority is to prepare and finalise designs for the facility in conjunction with council’s livestock committee and VLE, with the intention that works commence in the first half of next year.”
VLE chief executive Wayne Osborne said there had been significant advances in saleyard infrastructure during recent years that had provided substantial benefits to farmers.
“The commitment by Wellington Shire Council will allow the Sale Livestock Exchange to incorporate and capitalise on these,” he said.
“In doing so it will make the Sale Livestock Exchange the most advanced livestock marketing centre in east Gippsland; and as such the premiere marketing centre.”
A council spokesperson said progressing with the refurbishment of the current facility would allow it to further investigate options for the site purchased at Hopkins Rd, Fulham.
“The refurbishment of the existing facility enables council to investigate the options around retaining the Fulham site, considering it is the location of the council pound and shelter facility, operated by Animal Aid, which needs to remain as council land,” the spokesperson said.