MidCoast Council returned to Gloucester for the second round of community conversations designed to establish and address a list of town-specific priorities.
Concerned community members attended the meeting on Tuesday, November 5 for an update on what has happened since the round one meeting held in April this year. Based on the round one conversation, Gloucester had come up with a list of six priorities which council staff provided an update on.
Increase economic development opportunities - The Draft Employment Zones Review examined the extent of business and industrial zones in Gloucester and the uses permitted in these zones. Consultation will be undertaken with the community in early 2020.
Gloucester Caravan Park - The tenant has the right to manage the park up to the end of April 2020, council is continuing to investigate options beyond that.
Gloucester Machinery site - The vesting of land to the Crown is still in process; until finalised nothing can be done, in terms of understanding next steps towards purchase.
Improve water security - Council has committed to large investment over the next five to 10 years in water infrastructure. This includes the construction of a new reservoir on Cemetery Road to improve water pressure for the industrial area and a multi-million-dollar investment into water storage to provide security for the Gloucester supply into the future.
Youth opportunities - Youth Strategic Plan was adopted by council on July 24 and its implementation relies on the development of an annual action plan. A meeting with stakeholders was held in Gloucester on September 5 to prioritise strategies to be addressed and develop actions. The meeting was attended by representatives from the Bucketts Way Neighbourhood Group, Catholic Care, Gloucester High, Community Health, MSS, MidCoast Connect and the Department of Communities and Justice. A follow-up meeting is planned to finalise the development of actions.
Advocacy for maintenance of the health precinct - Council has developed strong relationships with local Federal and State Government members and Government agencies and will continue to take opportunities to advocate for local services and provide a voice for the local community into state and federal government.
Reduce rates, water and section 64 costs - The general rates paid by residents are subject to an annual increase determined by IPart. All councils are subject to this increase as it allows them to keep up with increases in costs for things such as labour, power and fuel. The water supply charges rose by 1.8% this year; below the rate of inflation. Council is reviewing the old S94 and S64 plans, which will result in revision of council's forward works program particularly for recreation assets. For water and sewer, council is looking to introduce greater flexibility for payments by businesses.
DA processing procedures/event applications - Council has been working with the community to education people on the development and event applications requirements and procedures.
Some additional topics raised during the conversation included the need for a modern Visitor Information Centre, the retention of the original Barrington Bridge and road upgrades for Ravenshaw and Queen Streets.
Council also discussed the development of a Pedestrian Access and Mobility Plan to cater for community needs; including older persons, people with mobility or visual impairments, young children, tourists, cyclists and recreational pedestrians. A meeting was held in Gloucester on Tuesday, December 2 for community feedback and input.
Council plans to return for the next conversation mid next year and hopes for more community involvement.