Great Victorian Rail Trail.

By Aleksandra Bliszczyk

An outdoor pool for Wallan, extending and expanding bike and rail trails, and dedicated entertainment venues were among the community’s wishlist in Mitchell Shire Council’s Community Vision 2050.

The need for more public recreation facilities was strongly highlighted, along with respondents calling for council to declare a climate emergency and develop an urgent action plan.

The council adopted its Community Vision 2050 document at last week’s council meeting, following extensive community consultation.

Key pieces of feedback from the final consultation spoke to infrastructure, impacts presented by climate change, and promoting a healthy lifestyle.

The document outlines six themes that capture the long-term dreams and aspirations of the community, and will be used to assist council in developing its priorities.

Council will also use the vision to guide focus areas in Mitchell’s other major plans, and will guide advocacy, funding priorities and the planning and delivery of programs, infrastructure and services into the future from council and other organisations.

More than 5098 responses from 1491 participants contributed to the document, which outlines a two-stage approach, supporting surveys and how the themes evolved and developed into the final narrative.

The six themes to emerge from the community feedback include: vibrant communities; working, learning and tourism; travelling and getting around; shaping neighbourhoods; nature and parks; and climate action.

Upon finalising the six themes, a secondary consultation took place across two online sessions to present these themes and take feedback from the community.

Council officer feedback reported that online sessions were supportive and indicated the themes had captured and accurately framed the community aspirations.

The recommendation to adopt the plan, with an amendment to slash the launch budget, was narrowly passed at the council meeting.

Councillors voted five to four in favour of Cr Louise Bannister’s move to reduce the output budget from $45,000 to $20,000, saying the community would rather see the money put towards implementing the goals.

“The vision will be a pivotal tool in making sure we work towards and align with our community’s aspirations,” Cr Bannister said.

“I think however $45,000 seems to be a bit exorbitant for the outputs of this vision. From my interactions with the community, I think they would prefer the majority of the money to go towards achieving the vision, rather than launching and displaying it.”

The original figure was divided into $20,00 for website development, $10,000 for video production, $5000 for any printed material, and $5000 for design work and a small amount for an in-person launch in celebration of the document.

Crs Rob Eldridge and Bob Cornish spoke in opposition of Cr Bannister’s proposed amendment, saying they ‘can’t afford not to let the community know what we’re doing’.

“By cutting the budget, we’re actually cutting out a portion of the community that needs to know what the vision is because for many of them, they don’t realise what’s happening with the growth,” Cr Eldridge said.

“To shortchange that feedback loop on such an important document is just not appropriate.”

Cr Annie Goble said with the technology available to council, she ‘could not imagine’ that it would not be able to effectively share information of the document.

Crs Goble, Bill Chisholm, Christine Banks, Bannister, and Fiona Stevens voted for the amendment, with the remaining four councillors voting against.

People can read the plan at engagingmitchellshire.com/hub-page/mitchell-2050.

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