From our Mayor and CEO
Here you can read the review of the past year by our Mayor and CEO.
They have very different roles.
The mayor is the figurehead of the council. They are elected by their fellow councillors for a 1-year term. The mayor actively promotes and develops opportunities for the municipality. Cr Mark Riley was the Mayor of Merri-bek for most of the 2021-22 financial year.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is responsible for the day-to-day management of the council’s operations. They ensure that council decisions are implemented and provide advice to Council.
After another year that saw the COVID-19 pandemic continue to challenge us as a community and as an organisation, we should be incredibly proud of the way we have pulled together and helped one another.
During the past 12 months, we developed a new council plan and new community vision. Our Council Plan 2021-25 outlines our goals and actions for the next 4 years. We developed this plan after talking to the community over a 6-month period. This project also helped develop our community vision and 10-year financial plan. Our vision is the basis for our council plan and other strategic plans. It was developed by a panel of 44 community members, who were chosen at random to match the demographic characteristics of our municipality. It was so valuable to hear the voices of our community in decisions about our future, and it reflects a strong relationship and trust built with the community.
A new council name
On Monday 13 December 2021, Councillors voted to change the name of Moreland City Council. The month before, Elders from the Traditional Owner community (and other community members) informed Council that – ‘Moreland’ – was named after a Jamaican slave estate. Following extensive community consultation and engagement with residents and ratepayers, we decided to support changing our name to ‘Merri-bek City Council’ in July 2022. The State Government officially approved our new name, Merri-bek City Council, on 15 September 2022 and it came into effect legally on 26 September.
This has been a really important journey of healing, listening and walking with the elders. We have listened intently to our community and heard their feedback, with more than 6000 responses through our community engagement process. We are honouring our Statement of Commitment to Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in our municipality, and it is certainly a new phase in our understanding of the history of this place. By listening, respecting First Nations Peoples and repositioning issues that are important to them, we are addressing some of the underlying issues like dispossession.
This is a positive local action our community can take to lead change for the future. I am very much looking forward to being part of a municipality where we have a name that everyone can feel proud of.
Making progress on climate change
We have achieved a lot towards our goals of reducing the effects of climate change on our community.
At the December 2021 Council meeting, we endorsed new emissions reduction targets:
- A 75% reduction in community emissions by 2030 and net-zero by 2035.
- An 80 to 100% reduction in Council emissions by 2030 without carbon offsets.
The new targets are in response to updated climate science on what we need to do by 2030 to meet the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C (above pre-industrial levels).
We celebrated 10 years of being carbon neutral. As one of the first councils in Australia to become certified carbon neutral, we are proud of our climate leadership in efficient and clean energy.
We will introduce a new 4-bin waste service in 2023 after endorsing the Kerbside Waste Service and Charge Policy in December 2021. All households will have a glass recycling bin and a food and garden organics (FOGO) bin as well as general rubbish and mixed recycling bins. I am pleased with the number of households who have already opted-in to the FOGO system.
Through our Urban Forest Strategy we are increasing the percentage of our city that is covered in tree canopy.
We have been training and equipping our communities to reduce climate change impacts but behaviour change for everybody is what we need to work on. Every person, household and business, we need to all play a part in protecting the planet.
The opening of the Glenroy Community Hub in May was a real highlight of 2021-22. The $30.1 million hub features a library, customer service centre, children’s centre, and a range of community services, along with new public art and a public garden. It is also Australia’s first passive house public building and achieves Living Building Challenge Petal certification – two of the most difficult-to-achieve international sustainable design standards. And it is a net positive energy building, with 125% of energy needs met through solar PV and storage.
The Merri Merri Wayi collaboration with our community was another highlight. These conversations have started forging a path towards how we can balance the social, cultural and environmental needs of the creek, keeping people safe and enabling our community to use the creek for more active and passive recreation. The community visioning exercise we have been working on is a really important piece of work and one that I am particularly proud of.
Thank you to our Councillors who have worked together as a strong team through the many challenges this year brought us. And thank you to our staff and community for working hard and looking after each other. I look forward to continuing to help our community through our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and I hope you will all continue to make us proud by helping one another.
Mayor Cr Mark Riley
In 2021-22, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic were still being felt across our municipality. Lockdowns were still a large part of our lives, as were other health measures that affected the way we delivered our services to the community.
Our community handled a lot of challenges during these 12 months. From health to economic and social – even an earthquake! – our community banded together and looked after each other. And our council staff continued to work hard to deliver services and the goals of our Council Plan 2021-25 and our Community Vision.
In 2021-22, we:
- delivered 56,506 meals
- planted 4188 trees
- loaned 968,735 books and e-resources through our libraries
- swept 40,815km of roads
- collected nearly 30,000 tonnes of garbage, 15,000 tonnes of recycling and 13,000 tonnes of food and garden waste
- and we vaccinated 3738 children aged under 5 years, 2645 high school students and 901 adults.
We also implemented a range of economic development programs and activities to help businesses in 2021-22. Our business support included:
- the Love Moreland, Dine Local program
- the implementation of our $975,000 share of the State Government’s COVID-safe Outdoor Activation Fund
- $3,000 grants to businesses for the installation of long-term parklets
- the reduction of fees payable by businesses for outdoor dining
- supporting registered food businesses by waiving registration fees for a further year throughout 2021-22
- a COVIDSafe business officer to support and educate businesses to be COVID-safe and compliant
- an ongoing campaign to encourage people to shop locally, called Love Moreland, Buy Local.
Thank you to our staff and everyone in our community for being kind to each other and working together to help each other during these difficult times.
Delivering good financial management in challenging times
We have taken a prudent approach to managing our budget, to ensure we can meet the needs of the growing demands of our community
We have worked hard to ensure funding for important services for the community and upgrades to our ageing assets, while also investing in new facilities for the community. A new Community Infrastructure Plan was developed and adopted during 2021-22 so that we can plan in the long term for funding important community assets.
Building for our community
Many great projects were delivered in 2021-22. Our total completed capital expenditure for the year was $56.7 million. We invested this money across a range of projects.
We completed and opened the Glenroy Community Hub, a one-stop shop for residents to have access to Council and community-based services in our north. We completed construction on a new park in Cardinal Road, Glenroy, which features dedicated water play and a large, covered picnic seating area. This new open space is part of our A Park Close to Home program, which aims to ensure that all our residents live within 500m walking distance to a park or open space or within 300m for those living in our busiest areas. As part of this program, we also awarded a contract to construct a new heritage park at Frith Street, Brunswick, on the site of the former Fletcher Jones clothing factory and metal foundry. Construction on the project is scheduled to be completed in mid-2023. And our Service Street, Coburg, project completed community consultation in June 2022 with construction works on track for completion in December 2022. This new park will feature an inclusive play tower and community vegetable garden with raised wicking beds.
We endorsed a final concept plan for the redevelopment of 33 Saxon Street in Brunswick. This hub will meet the growing needs of our community by creating approximately 3,500sqm of floorspace with opportunities for artists, community members and creative industries. It will be a welcoming, socially inclusive space that celebrates our diversity, creativity and distinct culture.
We also gave the green light for a $28 million upgrade of the Fawkner Leisure Centre, which will include a 50-metre outdoor swimming pool and many other community benefits. Construction is due to begin in 2023.
A health hub for Coburg
A big highlight from the past 12 months is the approval of the Coburg Health Hub. This new health and community services precinct for Coburg will become a reality by 2025. It will bring much-needed health services to the community and create up to 1,000 new local jobs. The precinct will include a short-stay hospital, community health services, aged care, bulk-billed GPs, a mental health facility, childcare and more. We are also keeping the bluestone cottage in Council ownership. The cottage will remain home to the Coburg Historical Society and will be refurbished as part of the wider project.
We have achieved a lot in these past 12 months and have many more exciting plans for the future. Thank you to our Councillors, residents, businesses and other community members for supporting each other and for making Merri-bek a great place to live.
Cathy Henderson Chief Executive Officer
You can download a copy of the CEO's message.