How to bring excitement and shoppers back to the Maude St Mall has been a much-discussed topic for the past few years.
Opening the streetscape to two-way traffic, new streetscaping, more cafes, more residential occupancy — these are some of the ideas on the drawing board.
However, Greater Shepparton City Council has hit on a simple idea to bring energy and foot traffic back to the mall for the school holidays at least.
From all reports, the Winter Fun Zone is proving a popular drawcard with families, young people and shoppers making the most of the attractions on offer.
Placing an ice rink in the middle of town has indeed brought a welcome sense of fun to the heart of the city.
Four of our reporters joined in the fun at the skating rink during a lunch-hour break this week and returned with reports of people flocking to the area with crowds of young people and families enjoying themselves.
At the Winter Fun Zone launch in May, the council anticipated up to 10000 people would attend during the three-week period of the activities.
From eyewitness accounts, these numbers would appear a little conservative.
There were as many people watching the brave ice skaters as there were taking part.
It is heart-warming to see so many people enjoying themselves together in the centre of our city — in a place that is so often the subject of negative discussion around neglect, shop closures and lack of foot traffic.
Together with other activities such as the monthly Culture Corner, our council must be congratulated for bringing life and colour back to the mall during the winter months.
We also applaud the Shepparton Chamber of Commerce and those businesses that have stepped up and supported this dynamic idea to re-energise our central shopping precinct.
Let’s hope some of the energy and dynamism created by the Winter Fun Zone lingers into other seasons of the year.