A significant amount of state government funding was committed to Armidale Regional Council (ARC) on Monday - the biggest cash injection into the council coffers since it received $12million for the Malpas Dam pipeline in 2018.
Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall spent the morning with ARC interim administrator Viv May visiting the funded projects which aim to inject money into the region, and make life easier for residents.
First stop was the Armidale Livestock Selling Centre where Mr Marshall announced $5 million in funding had been secured (through the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund) for significant redevelopments to both the Armidale and Guyra saleyards.
Mr Marshall and Mr May joined the president of the New England Associated Agents Sam Sewell to make the industry shaping announcement.
"Both Guyra and Armidale saleyards directly inject more than $72 million into the local economy each year, selling around 300,000 head of sheep and cattle on average every 12 months," Mr Marshall said.
"Using this$4,998,000grant, council will replace and extend the cattle holding yards at Armidale Saleyards, renew its cattle weighing scales, increase the amount of vehicle parking and refurbish amenities and offices.
"To improve environmental sustainability on site a system will be installed to harvest water from the large existing roof, which will be used in a truck wash-down reuse program, with solar panels also to be installed to lower power costs on site.
"At Guyra, all the old timber sheep yards and loading races will be replaced with steel and the onsite amenities and kiosk facilities will be refurbished.
"Heavy-vehicle access will be improved with works to be undertaken on internal and external roads.
"Increasing the holding capacity and improving access will make these yards some of the highest quality in northern NSW, attracting the best stock, biggest buyers and highest prices for farmers."
The redevelopment would deliver improved livestock handling facilities and increased buyer competition for vendors Mr Marshall said, and he acknowledged Armidale Regional Council and the New England Associated Agents for the plan they presented to the government.
"This is just the type of big picture infrastructure which both Armidale and Guyra needs to rebuild their drought, bushfire and COVID-19 affected economies," he said.
"By capitalising on both town's strengths in agriculture, these upgrades will ultimately result in new and greater opportunities to market livestock, facilitating the growing appetite for online selling.
"If cattle graziers in outlying areas like Walcha know they are going to consistently get high prices selling at nearby Armidale, they will be more inclined to send their stock there, instead of Tamworth.
"Council has given the commitment it will undertake these works in a staged process, so as not to impact on regular sheep and cattle sales."
Next the group went to the official opening of the $1million adventure playground in Curtis Park which was funded through a $999,700 State Government grant in September 2018.
Mr May thanked Mr Marshall for his support and said it was a great day for Armidale.
"It's a great day to celebrate and for me to congratulate all who have been involved in a project that will bring fun and smiles to many," he said.
"This site was selected for the playground because of its close proximity to centre of town and its potential to help revitalise the CBD.
"The Armidale Creeklands has so much potential to be a beautiful centrepiece of the city and this playground will be integral to starting to realise that potential."
Dam reservation upgrade
Finally, it was off to Dumaresq Dam where Mr Marshall announced $3.9 million in funding ( also from the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund) to redevelop recreation facilities at one of Armidale's best kept secret locations.
Mr Marshall said the improvements, funded by the State and Commonwealth Governments, would unleash a flood of opportunities for the previously underutilised former water storage dam.
"Offering stunning bush walks and the perfect place for families to paddle safely on the water, Dumaresq Dam has always had the potential to be one of Armidale's biggest visitor drawcards," he said.
"While many locals know and access Dumaresq Dam for kayaking and water activities, this $3,889,131 grant will open the area up to an additional 30,000 visitors per year.
"Armidale Regional Council plans to modernise facilities at the dam by installing a new amenities block, boat ramp, jetty and kiosk.
"An outdoor community stage and viewing platform at the water's edge are also included in the preliminary designs, along with changes to the road network to improve traffic flow throughout the park and allow for car parking.
"Importantly, this project aims to increase Dumaresq Dam's appeal as a campsite, supporting efforts to generate 4,600 overnight visitors annually.
"A new limited camping area will include basic sites without power, and be accompanied by picnic shelters, barbecue facilities and a camp kitchen.
"It's expected 10 construction jobs will be created as a result of this development and up to 30 new full-time equivalent tourism related positions."
This funding follows the announcement last month of a grant of $4million from NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment towards an $8million remediation of the dam wall.