Almost 1200 people have supported an old Beechy Rail Trial campaign calling for more funding to make sure the asset remains a viable tourist attraction.
Old Beechy Rail Trail committee chair Chris Smith said the trail needed an annual allocation of $100,000 in Colac Otway Shire Council’s budget to address trail maintenance and an additional $50,000 for the next two years to address safety concerns.
The council has allocated $60,000 for the trail in its 2018-19 draft budget, which is an increase on this year’s $45,000.
Cr Smith previously told the Herald he was concerned that a lack of funding would result in a substandard trail which would “reflect poorly” on the region, and had the potential to cause partial closures of the trail.
Friends of the Old Beechy Rail Trail started a petition to the Colac Otway Shire calling on community members to show their support for the trail and the trail’s need for more funding.
The petition gained more than 1000 signatures within a week, and was at 1190 signatures when the Herald went to print yesterday.
“To get that support from the community shows that it has a special place in people’s minds and hearts; it’s loved by everybody,” committee member Tricia Jukes said.
“It’s worth attention and development; it’s an asset to the shire and people have this beautiful part of the Otways to explore.
“I hope that the council are listening and I hope that they can see that by committing funds to the trail that it has broader implications for the community and the businesses.”
Fellow committee member Philippa Bailey said that “big community response” to the petition showed that the trail was an important attraction to the region.
“We really want to make sure that proper maintenance will occur to keep the rail trail in good condition,” she said.
For the full story see today’s Colac Herald.