Out­go­ing chief’s say on re­gion

Augusta Margaret River Times - - Front Page - War­ren Hately

Soon-to-re­tire Shire of Au­gusta-Mar­garet River chief ex­ec­u­tive Gary Ever­shed says a greater fo­cus on the en­vi­ron­ment and sup­port­ing more in-fill hous­ing will be needed in the fu­ture.

Dur­ing Mr Ever­shed’s 10-year ten­ure, the Shire has tack­led ma­jor projects in­clud­ing new of­fices, the Cul­tural Cen­tre re­de­vel­op­ment and ma­jor up­grades to Surfers Point, and played a sig­nif­i­cant role in win­ning fund­ing for the perime­ter road, the $35 mil­lion Au­gusta Boat Har­bour pro­ject, and next year’s re­de­vel­op­ment of Mar­garet River’s main street.

Look­ing into his crys­tal ball, the re­tir­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive told the Times the health of the river, in­ter­pre­tive works in Au­gusta, wastew­a­ter treat­ment for Witch­cliffe, ex­pan­sion of sport­ing grounds, and fur­ther for­ays into so­lar power would all be worth­while, if not cru­cial.

With some pre­vi­ous projects ticked off, new pri­or­i­ties were emerg­ing for the South West De­vel­op­ment Com­mis­sion’s South West Blue­print, he said, which would then go for ex­ter­nal fund­ing.

“I be­lieve now that the con­di­tion of the ma­jor com­mu­nity build­ings in the shire which were in a dread­ful state has been ad­dressed, it is time to make a con­certed ef­fort to pro­tect and safe­guard the en­vi­ron­ment for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions with ma­jor re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion projects,” Mr Ever­shed said.

“As the co-chair of the Mar­garet River Pro­tec­tion Strat­egy com­mit­tee, I be­lieve an im­por­tant blue­print is be­ing de­vel­oped to pri­ori­tise re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and ac­cess works.

“These projects need to be in­cluded in the South West Re­gional Blue­print to be able to at­tract fu­ture Roy­al­ties for Re­gions fund­ing when the purse strings are loos­ened.”

Lo­cal gov­ern­ments won a fund­ing life­line through Roy­al­ties in past years, but tight­en­ing eco­nomic con­di­tions and a change in Govern­ment have re­duced op­tions.

He said en­ergy con­sump­tion and waste out­put were big pri­or­i­ties, with the Shire fin­ish­ing its con­sul­ta­tion around waste dis­posal and eye­ing op­tions amid the im­mi­nent clo­sure of the Davis Road tip site.

“In waste man­age­ment, the big­gest push has got to be re­duc­ing waste to land­fill by re­cy­cling, reusing and re­cov­er­ing,” he said.

“En­cour­ag­ing tourists to min­imise waste is a se­ri­ous chal­lenge.”

Witch­cliffe town­ship’s lack of sew­er­age and wa­ter treat­ment was also a high pri­or­ity, Mr Ever­shed said, given the planned growth of the ap­proved eco-vil­lage.

“Wa­ter Corp has a ma­jor role to play and we need to en­gage them strongly to make the vi­sion a re­al­ity,” he said. Mr Ever­shed said res­i­dents would have to “ac­cept and em­brace” high­er­den­sity homes to re­duce ur­ban sprawl, which “if not man­aged well, will de­stroy the ru­ral char­ac­ter of the shire”.

And as pop­u­la­tions con­tin­ued to soar, emis­sions and the costs in­volved needed ac­tion, he said.

The chief ex­ec­u­tive flagged sub­stan­tially more so­lar pan­els on pub­lic build­ings to save ratepay­ers funds and cre­ate ef­fi­cien­cies.

Other projects worth con­sid­er­ing were a dual-use path to Au­gusta’s Leeuwin Light­house and “low-key” tourism in­fra­struc­ture at Flinders Bay, more sport­ing grounds, walk­ing and cy­cling trails, and ad­e­quate main­te­nance of lo­cal roads, which will in­clude Bus­sell High­way af­ter the by­pass opens at the end of this year.

It is time to make a con­certed ef­fort to pro­tect and safe­guard the en­vi­ron­ment.

Shire of Au­gusta-Mar­garet River chief ex­ec­u­tive Gary Ever­shed.

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