Council has received $300,000 from the Victorian State Government to support eligible businesses (as per the government guidelines) in providing outdoor activation opportunities and enhancing streetscapes. This project, supported by the Victorian Government’s COVID Safe Outdoor Activation Fund, has the aim of supporting businesses in their recovery from COVID.

Council undertook an Expression of Interest process for eligible local businesses across the Shire to participate in the program to receive outdoor furniture as part of the program. Council received 42 eligible applications. Businesses were able to choose from a range of outdoor tables, chairs, umbrellas, umbrella covers and lights, heaters and displays racks.

Furniture was ordered, sorted, and delivered directly to each of the participating businesses, including 99 tables, 190 chairs, 17 umbrellas/bases, 58 heaters and other items.

As part of the program Council also purchased 24 new locally made single rubbish bins and installed 43 planter pots and plants across the main town streetscapes, with a further 58 locally made Corten steel planter boxes and plants to be installed.

Mayor Cr Brian Hood said that the funding also provided an opportunity to support our local businesses by waiving the street furniture and A-frame permits.

“We are also pleased that the funding has allowed us to bring some vibrancy to the town streetscapes providing planter pots and boxes, bringing some colour and life to our streets while also significantly reducing permit fees paid by local businesses,” said Cr Hood.

One participating business made the following statement:

“Hepburn Shire, thank you very much for the hard work you put into arranging for the outdoor furniture for my shop under the program. Thank you for the delivery of them also.”

In 2023, Council will be engaging with the community and business owners in a separate project to develop a policy on outdoor dining and other temporary and permanent fixtures on road reserves.