City CBD becomes summer hot spot

City CBD becomes summer hot spot

Mount Gambier’s city centre was jam packed with entertainment over the recent holiday period with the trial ‘Summer on Watson’ program proving popular.

Economy, Strategy and Engagement manager Biddie Shearing gave an update about the trial at Mount Gambier City Council’s January monthly meeting.

She reported the momentum and level of interest had increased with the Summer on Watson program for January full.

The trial closure of Watson Terrace took place on weekends from late November 2023 through to the end of last month.

Known as Summer on Watson the program of activations brought together existing and returning activations and events to the CBD.

The intention was to create opportunity for businesses and community groups to test new activation ideas in the space.

A smorgasbord of events and activities on offer made the inner CBD area the hottest place to be on weekends, with January line-up reaching full capacity.

A total of 19 events were held with 11 in January, while seven events were hosted in December and one in November.

“Noting the time of year has been tricky to engage with some community groups,” Ms Shearing said.

Some of the feature events included New Year’s Eve celebrations, Drag Beach Party Life Drawing, Trek Across Oz charity bike ride, Red Cross Volunteer Appreciation Morning, Koonara Wine Summer Fiesta, and Thugi Markets.

The trial of the Summer on Watson initiative wrapped up with Citizen of the Year celebrations and Triple J Hottest 100 Party in the Park.

The program of activation was co-constructed by council in consultation with business and community interest groups.

“The Summer on Watson program of activations brings together existing and returning activations and events to the CBD, while creating opportunity for businesses and community groups to test new activation ideas in the space,” Ms Shearing said.

Following each activation, a debrief session was held with council staff and the activation organiser to capture feedback and data as part of the trial.

“The short lead time challenged external parties committing to the activation, despite council waiving the permit fees process,” Ms Shearing said.

“This learning is being captured in order to refine our approach and look to evolve the delivery for future activations across the city.”

Ms Shearing said despite being faced with its own short lead time to host a community event, council was able to pull together a successful community New Year’s Eve celebration.

“Following the cancellation of the New Year’s Eve Festival, organised by community committee Mount Gambier Community Events Management Inc, council was able to deliver a family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration as part of Summer on Watson with the short lead-in time,” she said.

Ms Shearing said the activations were also well supported by council’s depot team.

“Council’s depot team support included sprinkler alterations, waste management after every activation, shipping container installation, and site alteration requirements for activations, including marquee sides removal and semi-permanent structure removal,” she said.

At a council meeting in August last year, Cr Max Bruins initially requested council investigate the viability of a trial closure of Watson Terrace for the purposes of CBD activation.

After attending one of the events, Cr Bruins said he was extremely pleased to see the program come to life.

“It was great to see a massive amount of people in a small enclosed space enjoying themselves,” he said.

“We got off to a slow start, but I’m sure as businesses have seen it come to life over the last few months would be in a position for the program to continue next year. Well done to all involved.”

Meanwhile, Mayor Lynette Martin said she had received many comments from the public.

“Many people that have commented to me said the Cave Gardens is a fantastic space for these events,” she said.

“I’d like to thank Biddie Shearing and her team and extend thanks to the council depot team.

“They have dealt with this over and above and in particular New Year’s Eve in such a short time frame.

“It will be interesting to see the final report.”

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