A proposal to move Warrnambool's art gallery to Cannon Hill has been labelled "ludicrous", with a new petition launched to stop the potential relocation.
Businessman Brian Guyett said it was "ridiculous" for the city councillors to try and even consider "taking it off us".
In a 4-3 split vote this month, councillors went against officers' recommendations and voted to conduct a business case for a new facility at Cannon Hill rather than rebuild it at the current Civic Green site.
Preliminary plans suggest it could cost about $40 million for the new facility, and Mr Guyett said there were other sites that could be considered such as the old gas plant or at Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum.
He and a group of concerned residents have started a petition that will be in Warrnambool shops and online.
Mr Guyett said Tripadvisor recommended Cannon Hill views of Lady Bay as one of the reasons to come to Warrnambool. "Yet they want to take it off us and put an art gallery there," he said.
"Art galleries do not have windows. If this goes, it's gone forever."
Mr Guyett said he wanted to stop the council even considering putting an art gallery there.
"It's very important that the ratepayers and the citizens of Warrnambool get behind us in our petition to stop the city councillors from taking these prime multi-million-dollar views away from all of us, for our grandchildren, our great grandchildren," he said.
"It's literally ludicrous. It's ridiculous for them to even consider what they're trying to do to take this away from all people.
"To even consider it by the councillors is quite concerning in our opinion."
Those behind the petition said community consultation, which included a public meeting, had been split 50-50 on whether to rebuild at the current location or move to the location which offers sweeping views of Lady Bay.
Mr Guyett said he and other Warrnambool residents were becoming increasingly concerned the council was "listening with a tin ear" to the community's take on the plan to shift the WAG to the ocean-view site.
The online and physical petition aims to create an open and transparent record of the community's support - or lack of - for the Cannon Hill plan.
"We have heard the council say they've consulted the community, and judged it as a 50-50 on whether people want the WAG moved to Cannon Hill or not," Mr Guyett said.
"But there's only been one public meeting about the topic, where the majority sentiment of those in the crowd was clearly against it.
"It's unclear how this 50-for-50-against assessment by councillors is being made ... the councillors haven't given us, as ratepayers, hard evidence that shows either how they've calculated this assessment, or the methods they've used to gather the data.
"So, in the absence of council being able to provide evidence, we've decided we'll gather it, so that it is clear and obvious."
Mr Guyett said the council was yet to make a strong argument to justify the move of the WAG to Cannon Hill that neutralised reasons not to site it there.
"We are looking at a loss of central, public space that's been protected from commercial development for over 100 years," he said.
Mr Guyett said a gallery at Cannon Hill would impede the city's only publicly-accessible, uninterrupted view of Lady Bay while risking the escalation of traffic issues in the Merri/Liebig street zone - particularly in summer.
He said it would mean losing car parks that were used daily for a facility that could be sited elsewhere.
"All this to create an art gallery with a view, even though an art gallery's whole purpose is what the view is inside it, not outside," he said.
Mr Guyett questioned why councillors were focused on pushing Cannon Hill as a potential site, rather than inviting or welcoming discussion on other locations, such as nearby Flagstaff Hill.
"Extending the use of an underutilised cultural facility such as Flagstaff Hill - that has a large, often-empty car park and declining visitor numbers - seems on the face of it to be an obvious option to explore. Why isn't council canvassing the community on this site?
"We simply can't see the transparency, or clear justification for the ongoing focus on Cannon Hill. It simply hasn't been explained.
"This vacuum elevates our concerns that council isn't listening to the community's take on that suggestion, which to seemingly everyone but our council is clearly, 'please, don't.'
"By launching a petition that's open to public, we can gather a clear position amongst the ratepaying community that our elected councillors can't ignore or generalise."
The petition can be found at Timor Street Newsagency, Northpoint Lotto & Gifts, Wytons, South West Tools, Brown's Bakery and Silver Fox.
It can also be accessed online at chng.it/dxjFpnHZ until September 17.
Mr Guyett said once the petition had closed, the results would be forwarded to the council for consideration, and in the hope of informing the consultants undertaking the yet-to-be awarded business case into the WAG relocation.
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