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Council outlines 2020-21 priorities

Lone walker at Castlemaine Botanical Gardens in autumn.

Council has outlined its priorities for the year ahead in its annual plan.

Thursday 20 August 2020

Mount Alexander Shire Council this week adopted its Annual Plan 2020/2021, outlining key projects and priorities for the financial year ahead.

The delivery of nineteen new projects and nine ongoing projects will help see Council deliver on its commitments in the 2017 – 2021 Council Plan, and support the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Annual Plan outlines Council’s key priorities for the year ahead and helps monitor progress against its strategic objectives set out in the 2017 – 2021 Council Plan.

These objectives align with the pillars of Our People, Our Place and Our Economy, and will help meet Council’s vision of an innovative, creative and connected shire.

“The Annual Plan sets out what Council will deliver over the next year,” said Mayor Christine Henderson, Mount Alexander Shire Council.

“It’s fantastic to see some new initiatives in this year’s plan, and also projects that have been waiting in the wings get off the ground.”

“Given this is the last year of our four-year term as Council, we are looking forward to seeing these actions come to fruition,” said Mayor Henderson.

Highlights include:

Our People
• Undertake an NDIS feasibility study in response to the Aged and Disability Care Services Review.
• Complete concept plans for two preferred social housing sites to meet the needs of our community.
• Use the findings from the 2019 Healthy Hearts Victorian Active Living Census to inform partnership opportunities with service providers to support improved social and health outcomes in culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

Our Place
• Construct and implement elements of stage two of the small-town streetscapes project, to be completed over two years.
• Finalise a developer contributions framework for the provision of critical infrastructure in the growth areas of Harcourt, Campbells Creek and Diamond Gully.
• Prepare amendments to the local planning scheme to implement the Harcourt Framework Plan and the Maldon Design Guidelines.
• Develop an Asset Management Plan to effectively manage drainage infrastructure now and into the future.
• Construct an interactive, multi-media display in the historic Market Building in Castlemaine to showcase the cultural heritage of the first peoples in the region (subject to the receipt of grant funding).

Our Economy
• Develop a plan to promote and support the local tourism industry to recover and rebound from the effects of COVID-19.
• Implement an online community engagement platform in response to COVID-19.
• Start the delivery of the Maldon Streetscape Project as a priority capital works project that will run over several years.
• Adopt the new General Local Law to replace the existing Local Laws No. 2 to 6 which are due to expire in November 2020.
• Undertake a Gender Workplace Audit as part of a pilot project looking at gender impacts in the workplace.
• Deliver an updated Rating Strategy for 2021-2025, pending finalisation of a state government review into the rating system.

Actions that aim to address climate change include:
• Develop a training toolkit to support the implementation of the Mount Alexander Bushfire Risk and Community Engagement Guide.
• Start our response to the Climate Change Declaration, including assisting our community in developing the Community Transition Plan.
• Develop the design for the Resource Recovery Centre.
• Implement elements of the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens Conservation Management Plan including a climate change analysis, collections policy and tree succession plan.

“We know there is a cohort of older, single people who can’t afford to buy or rent in the private housing market, and we want to be able to assist them,” said Mayor Henderson.

“One of the initiatives which will address this, is the priority to complete concept plans for two preferred social housing sites in the shire.”

“This is a long-held vision that will encourage and support innovative housing solutions that better meet the needs of our residents,” said Mayor Henderson.

“This year Council will also be developing an Asset Management Plan which will help us effectively manage drainage infrastructure now and into the future.”

“Over the years of drought and flood, I’ve come to realise how critical drainage is. Developing a plan that outlines what we’ve got, where it is and what state it’s in is a real leap forward,” she said.

“After several years of consulting local communities on what they love and would like to see improved in their towns, we have also reached a point where we can really deliver on the streetscape plans in our towns.

“We’re planting trees, improving pathways, and responding to community plans that people have contributed to, and put in place.”

“We are also ensuring we have a strong plan in place to deliver much needed infrastructure in the growth areas of our shire,” said Mayor Henderson.

Projects and initiatives contained in the Annual Plan are fully funded in the 2020/2021 Budget as part of the operating budget, capital works program or a one-off initiative.

Staff will deliver the projects on top of more than 100 core services provided to the community, including maternal child health, supported playgroups and aged care, as well as the annual maintenance and renewal of infrastructure like roads, bridges, footpaths and community facilities across the shire.

Staff prepare a report on actions in the Annual Plan, which is presented at a Council Meeting each quarter to enable Councillors and the community to monitor progress.

Council will next prepare a Council Plan for the period 2021-2025 in accordance with Section 90 of the Local Government Act 2020.

Read the annual and council plans at www.mountalexander.vic.gov.au/PlansandStrategies.

Image: Implementing parts of the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens Conservation Management Plan is one of Council’s priorities for the year ahead. Photo – Richard Baxter Photography.

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