Stock agents say they are stunned by councillors' decision to not fund major upgrades at Warrnambool's saleyards and will fight to save the facility from closure.
Councillors voted 4-3 on Monday night not to award a tender for up to $5.66 million worth of works - a decision which puts the future of the facility in jeopardy.
The decision has been labelled "mindboggling" and "quite astonishing".
The council will now engage in community and stakeholder consultation before making a decision on any works.
Warrnambool Stock Agents Association president Jack Kelly said he was "terribly disappointed" with Monday night's vote.
He said agents, users and businesses would fight to keep the facility open.
Mr Kelly said he was "very much" stunned by the decision.
"It was just a complete surprise," he said.
"There's a lot at stake. We have a very loyal clientele that are very loyal to Warrnambool."
Mr Kelly said the saleyards generated up to $40 million for the city's economy.
"People understand that country people shop in town," he said.
"You talk to the people around the town, when the country people are doing well, the town does well.
"You look around, the only city that doesn't have a saleyards is Geelong."
He said Warrnambool was one of the only centres in Victoria that still held calf sales.
"A lot of the other centres have stopped... due to numbers but Warrnambool is still going strong," he said.
He said the saleyards had always made a very good profit. "Wait until we get something that's even better," he said.
"The thing is, it will be a very good 20 years if they let it be built and run properly," he said.
"And the land's only going to continue to go up in price... it's not going to go back."
Mr Kelly said that if a bigger portion of the saleyards' profits had gone back into the facility, it would be in a stronger position.
"Let's be honest, the saleyards have been run down for a long time. It's always made a profit but the money hasn't gone back in," he said.
But he said the saleyards were in a strong position.
"We've still got a very good clientele, we have four agents there and the numbers are still coming through," Mr Kelly said.
"We had a sale on Friday that defied all the odds of the store sales and prices were very good.
"We've had wonderful support from the clients using the saleyards and great support from the buying fraternity."
Agent Anthony Mahony said he too was stunned with the decision because the works had initially been included in the council budget.
Mr Mahony said a number of works had already been completed, and the tender was to continue on with that.
"We honestly thought it was a fait accompli, it was all ready to go. So the backflip in the last week has been quite astonishing," he said.
"It's an institution in Warrnambool and it has been there for well over 100 years.
"It's still a money-making venture for Warrnambool, one of only two council-owned operations that make money - the saleyards and the foreshore holiday parks.
"'It's always been a self-funding operation.
"Why the current four councillors that voted against it would take that stance is quite mind-boggling."
Mr Mahony said he didn't understand the problem with the location, because land around it was industrial.
"We have a major abattoir closer to the CBD than what we are," he said.
He said Warrnambool had an extremely strong supporter base and it was still yarding in excess of 50,000 cattle.
IN OTHER NEWS:
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:
Now just one tap with our new app: Digital subscribers now have the convenience of faster news, right at your fingertips with The Standard:
Have you signed up to The Standard's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in the south-west.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.