WHAT do we want? Better public transport, a new Cowes jetty and a government department or service in Wonthaggi, and that's just the start.
At Wednesday night’s council meeting, councillors endorsed an inaugural advocacy strategy with a list of 10 priorities for which the council will seek commitments from both major parties in the upcoming state and federal election campaigns.
After the Government’s recent spending splurge in Bass Coast, it’s already been able to cross off four items:
- Wonthaggi Hospital Upgrade ($115 million)
- Wonthaggi Secondary College New Senior Campus ($25 million)
- Phillip Island Integrated Transport Strategy Stage 2 – Phillip Island Road / Back Beach Road Intersection Upgrade ($9.7 million)
- Wonthaggi Highball Stadium – Indoor Sports Hub & Centre for Basketball ($6 million)
So successful has the lobbying been that Bass Coast is in the enviable position of having to rewrite its wishlist. The new list includes a mix of existing and new priorities:
From previous list
- $500,000 funding for a transport strategy to improve public transport services in South West Gippsland, with links to pedestrian and cycling paths and road upgrades to cope with anticipated growth.
- No-cost transfer to the council of the Wonthaggi Secondary College McBride campus site for a cultural precinct incorporating a principal library, regional art gallery and performing arts and conference centre.
- Approximately $7 million for a new Cowes jetty, plus funding to investigate this location as a potential car ferry terminal site.
- Funding of $14.6 million (via grants or low-cost loans) for key infrastructure such as roads and drainage in the Wonthaggi North East precinct, which will accommodate some 4400 homes.
- Up to $500,000 to establish a 24-hour pharmacy and nursing facility in Cowes.
- Bass Coast foreshore management and erosion control – funding for erosion control and a consistent approach to the management of foreshore reserves across the shire.
- Decentralisation of a state government department or service to Wonthaggi to support Wonthaggi’s status as a regional centre.
- Tourism infrastructure – funding for trails and paths identified in the council’s pathways plan.
- Tertiary education investment – attraction and funding of tertiary education providers and facilities in Bass Coast.
- Planning – policy changes to improve environmental protection in coastal township areas.
The advocacy strategy also includes a list of level two and three priorities which the council will pursue should an opportunity arise, for example, with funding or policy changes.
Bass Coast Mayor Pamela Rothfield said the tiered approach ensured the council’s limited resources were used effectively.
“While there are endless priorities important to our community, it’s important that we create structure to help us decide the top ten priorities on which we will focus our energy and time. Doing this puts us in the best position to achieve great outcomes for our community.”