By Jackson Russell
Mitchell Shire Council’s focus on the Missing Link Footpath Program is paying off with the amount of work left halved in the last four years.
Council’s last iteration of the Missing Link Footpath Program priority list in 2016 identified up to 109 kilometres of missing link footpaths across the shire at an estimated value of $18 million.
The report said it would take more than 60 years to complete all the missing link footpaths in the shire based on council’s investment at the time of $300,000 per year.
The same report also identified 15 top priority paths as part of the project which was estimated to cost more than $2.5 million to complete alone.
Since then, 13 of the 15 priority projects have been completed or are committed for delivery in council’s 2019-20 Capital Works Program.
Over the past four financial years, council’s average expenditure on footpaths and trails has been $536,000 and over the past two financial years, it has grown to an average of $814,000.
If council continues at the same rate as the last two years, council officers estimated the shire-wide backlog of missing link footpaths could be completed in less than 23 years.
North ward councillor Rhonda Sanderson said she was really pleased council now only has 23 years of missing link footpaths left to complete.
“A lot of people rely on footpaths so the condition of these paths is crucial to the wellbeing of the community,” she said.
Central ward councillor Annie Goble said the wonderful thing about council being in such a great financial position is it can spend more money on roads, footpaths and trails.
Council is expected to complete another review of its Missing Link Footpath Program priority projects during the 2019-20 financial year with a community input process anticipated to help inform the list of priority footpaths.