Council asks for community members to engage with the process of the next council plan

Councillors endorsed the commencement of the community engagement at the latest YRC meeting on Tuesday 26 March. Picture: ON FILE

By Dongyun Kwon

Yarra Ranges Council (YRC) is asking for community members to share their thoughts, time and expertise to help develop the 2025-2029 Council Plan.

Councillors endorsed the commencement of the community engagement at the latest YRC meeting on Tuesday 26 March.

By the end of October, in the year following a council election, every council is required to develop a four-year strategy to work towards the community’s vision.

Mayor Sophie Todorov said YRC is launching community engagement on which forms the council plans to help inform the council’s strategic direction for the next plan.

“We’re happy to listen to our community members,” she said.

“We want to hear from as much of the community as possible so that we can accurately capture the priorities and needs of everyone who lives and works in the Yarra Ranges municipality.”

Wendy Wright was the first community member who shared an opinion regarding this year’s community engagement.

Ms Wright said the nominations for the community engagement deliberative panel should be different this time to be more representative.

“I feel that the number of nominations received in the 2021 panel was very low and I think is extremely disappointing,” she said.

“I do question the value of and the cost of that whole process if we’re only going to get 183 people nominating for a panel because I don’t think you could expect to get representation from across all of the Yarra Ranges.

“I’m hoping that that will be very different to last time [and also] hoping that we’ll be able to hear how many people nominate before decisions are made.”

In response to the question, Lyster Ward Councillor Johanna Skelton said despite the small number, the 2021 panel gave a lot of information about the key things that the council grappled with.

“[With the asset management plan] there were so many people who had never engaged with the council before and got different feedback which was wonderful,” she said.

“I’m very hopeful that the next one will get that same level of engagement.”

Ryrie Ward Councillor Fiona McAllister said she would put her best effort into getting more community members engaged with this year’s community engagement process.

“Hearing from our submitter [Wendy Wright] tonight again, it’s always such a reminder about making sure that we get a diverse, large and strident community voice to help us craft the right council plan is really critical,” she said.

“If we could get 10 per cent of the community to participate in this process, that’s about a thousand people out of 116,000 people, that really would be something to feel very proud of, so I’m putting that figure in my head and I’m going to work towards that.

“We’ve had greatly increased engagement and all of the democratic opportunities of the council and I’m hoping that translates into great voice, representation, challenge and curiosity throughout this process.”

Between March and May, Council staff will hold pop-ups across the region at events and popular locations, to gather a wide range of perspectives from locals and visitors.

The 10-year Asset and Finance Plans will also be developed by this engagement.