Mayoral Matters

Mayoral Matters September 2021  –  Mayor Graeme Massey

September 29 2021

Our scheduled Council Meeting for 22 September was deferred a week to allow the Audit and Risk Committee an opportunity to consider the financial statements before they are presented to Council. Acceptance of the Draft Annual Report is on the agenda for the next Council meeting on Wednesday 29 September. Councillors will also be presented with the list of community projects that will receive SHARE grants from the latest application period. Once again the Council meeting will take place on-line. Council has not met face to face in the chambers since May. The way the road-map out of restrictions is worded it appears unlikely we will return to the chamber until November.

We have a number of projects that are in the process of being finalised. Tenders have been awarded to complete upgrades at the Brim and Rupanyup Tennis Courts, the extensions to Warracknabeal kindergarten and the changerooms at Beulah Recreation Reserve. Tenders are currently out for the Woomelang op-shop building and the erection of three cabins at Warracknabeal caravan park. The tender for the Rupanyup netball modular changeroom is expected to be awarded at this month’s Council meeting. The new supermarket at Rupanyup is waiting for an opening date to be set by the State Government and renovation work at Murtoa’s Rabl Park, that includes rejuvenation of the skate park area, has been stalled as Urban Initiatives are unable to leave Melbourne due to the Covid lockdown.

Our application to Homes Victoria to acquire funding from the State Government’s Big Build fund to erect 14 affordable two-bedroom dwellings at Woomelang, Hopetoun, Warracknabeal, Murtoa and Rupanyup is currently working its way through the bureaucratic processes. Council has earmarked $500,000 in this financial years’ budget to facilitate this project.

Covid restrictions have continued to have a major impact on how we can go about our daily lives. Once again it was disappointing to see events such as the Murtoa Big weekend and the Patchewollock music festival cancelled for another year. Competitive sport has not been permitted since the beginning of August and a hopeful return never eventuated forcing football, netball and hockey to cancel finals and putting golf tournaments on hold for another year.

Although most businesses have been able to re-open, restrictions on capacity numbers is particularly handicapping hospitality venues. Lisa Inkster has recently been appointed the Shire’s Covid Business Support Officer. Lisa is available to assist business owners and event organisers with funding programs, grants and complying with regulations and restriction requirements. In the past couple of weeks Business Horsham has redefined its role to join with West Wimmera, Northern Grampians, Hindmarsh and Yarriambiack Shires to form West Vic Business. This group will also work to assist commercial bodies adjust as they move out of existing Covid conditions.

Recently Dr Amelia Green from Griffith University has received media attention for her survey of how national silo art has attracted tourism and impacted on rural communities. Her findings are especially relevant as the silos in our region are not located in large commercial centres. Visitors commented that they expected shops to be open and other sights and activities to be promoted. This was not news to us and our local tourism groups have taking measures to rectify this for some months.

On Friday 24 September we were informed that two positive Covid cases had been reported at Warracknabeal caravan park. This is the first occasion that Covid has been detected in Yarriambiack Shire. This time we were fortunate that the cases had been in quarantine isolation and there are no community exposure sites. Next time we may not be so lucky. Coronavirus will be around for a long time and we still need to be vigilant with sanitising and distancing requirements. The health experts tell us the best way to cope is through vaccination. Last week 84% of eligible Shire residents had received one injection and 60% have been double-dosed. Please keep these numbers increasing as this the best way to return to a life where we can go to venues, attend events and visit homes.