MICK White has a passion to see central Warrnambool thrive and come out of its doldrums, but he wants the community to share the burden.
As chief executive of Western District Employment Access he has seen the retail employment pulse slow down and job opportunities become scarcer for young people.
“It’s vital that everyone buys into the debate on how to improve Liebig Street,” Mr White said as he and other members of the city streetscape committee ramp up community debate on rejuvenating the retail heart.
“I became involved because I wanted to make sure discussion was open to everyone with all retailers having a chance to air their views rather than having something forced on them by the city council.
“Parking, pedestrian safety and traffic flow are some of the topics for discussion, but what do the people want?
“I believe it’s a blank canvas for ideas and that this is an ideal opportunity for funding to get changes with a state election coming up. Every other town will be trying.”
Mr White said he had no preconceived ideas on how the Liebig Street renewal would look.
“Property owners, shoppers, workers, general residents and tourists — they should all have a view.
“I think Warrnambool is a great place with a growing population. We just need to make it more attractive and comfortable for them to want to come into the CBD.
“Warrnambool is at the end of the Great Ocean Road, but we don’t get enough oomph out of it with tourists staying (only) a night or two.”
Mr White said the decline in Liebig Street retailing affected overall unemployment.
“In the past retailing has been good for youth employment,” he said.