Saleyard project ‘shovel ready’

Saleyard project ‘shovel ready’

Amulti-million-dollar project envisaged for the Mount Gambier and Districts Saleyards could be shovel-ready by April this year.

Grant District Council staff and elected members recently met with Mount Gambier City Council to provide an update on its Mount Gambier Districts Livestock Exchange 2030 Transformation Project.

Grant Mayor Kylie Boston discussed the project when she attended at City Council’s February monthly meeting.

Grant council chief executive Darryl Whicker and elected member Barry Kuhl were in attendance alongside Mayor Boston.

Cr Kuhl, who is also the Mount Gambier and District Saleyards strategy committee presiding member, said after four years of consulting council, industry, transport operators and stakeholders, the project was now shovel ready.

“Planning approval has been achieved and building approval achievable to ensure shovel-ready status by April 2024,” Cr Kuhl said.

He said the project would include the instillation of soft fall flooring, roofing over pens, a rainwater harvesting system as well as a number of electrical upgrades.

It would also see the realignment of – and an additional 30 – pens to allow for another 300 heads of cattle at the facility.

“Currently the saleyards concrete flooring does not meet industry expectations and is not optimal for animal wellbeing,” Cr Kuhl said.

“The project envisages to transform the flooring which is essential to meet industry best practice.

“The main element of the project is roofing over the penned area, around 13,600m square.

“The rainfall will be harvested through water catchment to reuse 726000 litre capacity rainwater system.”

He said the project has a 14-month build timeframe, and assured the saleyards and livestock exchange will continue to operate throughout construction.

The project envisages upgrading the facility to modern infrastructure contributing to improved animal welfare with cattle yard roofing, holding pen reconfigurations, soft flooring, sprinkler systems and rainwater harvesting.

This work has been identified as a priority in the Mount Gambier and District Saleyards Masterplan 2018-2028.

The project remains reliant on appropriate funding at the Federal, State and Local levels of government.

Grant District Council is hopeful in securing critical funding after submission of a full application in the Federal Government’s Growing Regions Program.

Council endorsed the full program application at a special meeting held in January.

Meanwhile, at Grant District Council’s February monthly meeting Growth and Tourism manager Rebecca Perkin provided an update on a funding application for the project.

“Just over a month ago we lodged the application. We should be hearing back soon; by late February was the indication. We have got our fingers crossed,” she said.

Mayor Boston highlighted why the facility is important to the region and the need for the project.

“The Mount Gambier and Districts Saleyards has a proven history of almost 50 years successful and ongoing operations.

“It’s one of the largest saleyards in South Australia. With the closure of Millicent and Warrnambool saleyards it is even more important to keep this economic stimulus in this area and attract the sales from Victoria.

“The saleyards were first established in 1977 and has not had a significant upgrade.

“Simple upgrades are required for the site to become a modern livestock exchange, which means modern standards.

“The facility processes approximately 70,000 head of cattle per annum, along with around 100,000 sheep.

“Over the past five years the saleyards has transacted livestock sales value of around $646m, with an average sales value of $125-130 million per year.”

While the saleyards are owned and operated by the council, Mayor Boston said the economic benefits largely flow to the Mount Gambier and wider region.

“We know that due to Mount Gambier’s role as a main regional centre the majority of this benefit will flow on to businesses in the city,” she said.

“Five main livestock agents are Mount Gambier based and the flow on expenditure flow into the retail, hospitality, and other industries.

“The project will transform the existing saleyards into a best practice regional livestock selling centre for future generations.”

Mayor Boston said the project economic reach was estimated at $24.5m locally and 78 jobs would be created during construction.

“Regional Development South Australia Infrastructure Prioritisation Report released in December 2023 identifies the Mount Gambier saleyards and industrial estate in its top 20 highest priority infrastructure projects in regional South Australia,” she said.

“The provision of soft flooring throughout the cattle selling area will reduce foot soreness and lameness, therefore ensuring premium livestock experience for buyers who need livestock to be in optimum health for transport and arrival at destination.

“The Mount Gambier saleyards has the reputation as a premium selling centre and is attracting buyers from further away in the eastern states.

“There is considerable support from stock agents, transport, producers and buyers that soft flooring and roofing at the site is essential to meet the community expectations for livestock wellbeing.

“Without a roof which protects the soft fall flooring from the elements it is not viable to use soft fall and livestock must stand on the hard floors.

“When cattle stand on hard floors for long periods it affects their condition and recovery time. After transport it also lowers the quality of their meat.

“Grant Council is investing in this regional asset for the benefit our whole region. We welcome City of Mount Gambier to be part of this.

“The Mount Gambier City Council is invited to continue the record of collaboration on major projects to optimise opportunities to interlink economies and secure future jobs.”

To date, the project had received a $2.7m funding commitment from the state government.

Grant council is now waiting on grant approval of $7m from the federal government.

Mayor Boston said the council itself had also committed $3m towards funding the project, but invited the City’s support.

Mount Gambier agents committee chairperson Brad Holdman was also present for the deputation.

There is a chance City Council could help fund the redevelopment.

City Council elected member Sonya Mezinec put forward a motion that a report providing information to enable council to make a decision in consideration of Grant’s request for funding assistance.

Grant chief executive officer Daryl Whicker said, pending approval from the federal government, the project was fully funded.

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