Councillor Column: Cr Trent Sullivan from the City of Greater Geelong
Welcome to the New Year
Happy new year to all members of our community and those visiting for the summer.
January is a brilliant time where we experience the full benefit of everything the Bellarine and the Geelong region more broadly have to offer.
Unfortunately this summer does not have the usual festive mood owing to the catastrophic bushfires raging in Victoria, NSW and other parts of Australia.
The images we’re seeing at the moment are horrifying and we send our deepest sympathy and best wishes to those affected. Our deep admiration also goes to the brave firefighters and others who are helping the relief effort.
The Greater Geelong Council is ready to offer help and resources to the state government and directly affected councils wherever requested.
We are also encouraging the community to assist with cash donations via the Victorian Bushfire Appeal – vic.gov.au/bushfireappeal – or other appropriate registered charities.
Our thoughts will continue to be with everyone caught up in the fires, and especially those who have tragically lost loved ones.
Locally, we are in the midst of the holiday season with an influx of very welcome visitors.
While this does mean our roads are busier and finding a park becomes a bit more challenging, the increase in trade for local businesses is vitally important.
Whether you’re a local or a short-term visitor, we do encourage you all to be careful and patient on the roads, and to look out for each other.
This year marks the final 10 months of the current council’s term, before the local government elections in late October.
There is a lot we all still want to achieve, and we’ll be fitting in as much as we possibly can before election day comes around.
As one of three Bellarine ward councillors, my aim remains the same: to represent the Bellarine community as strongly as I possibly can on the issues that are important to us.
I’ve set myself three key priorities for the year ahead:
It’s never more clear than at this time of year that transport on the Bellarine needs improvement.
Our roads are increasingly busy and buses are not frequent or direct enough to make them an appealing alternative to car travel.
Council’s role in this space is advocacy on behalf of the community, and we’re in conversation with the state government. We hope to see some positive improvements to the bus service before too long.
We also need to think creatively about other solutions that might take pressure off our road network in the long-term.
Trackless trams are an interesting prospect. Deakin University is proposing a trial in central Geelong, having sent a delegation to China where they are being manufactured and operating effectively.
Further down the track, could this be an option for travel between Geelong and the Bellarine?
There’s still a lot of work to be done to even bring this technology to Australia, but it’s definitely worth exploring.
The community has been calling for an extra pool on the Bellarine for some time, and I expect this discussion to amplify in 2020.
The federal government has a $10 million election commitment on the table for a 50-metre pool, while a council-funded scoping study is under way at the moment.
Bellarine councillors are awaiting the results of that study with great interest.
A long-term project to create a fully connected network of shared trails across Greater Geelong is underway, with a master plan being developed.
City of Greater Geelong staff collected a huge amount of feedback from the community to help the creation of this plan, which was extremely valuable. Thank-you to everyone who contributed.
Shared trails are obviously a huge point of interest on the Bellarine, given the potential to better connect our towns and tourist locations such as wineries.
There are major tourism opportunities if we can make it easier for people to ride, walk, run or horse ride between any location on the peninsula, from north to south and east to west. It’ll also be great for the local community and help us all get more active.
Once the master plan is finished, we want to see work quickly starting on some of the high priority connections it identifies.
So it is a big year ahead for the council. We have a lot of hard work ahead of us, but also plenty to look forward to. We’ll be sharing more news on these projects and others over the coming months.
Although the bushfires have meant a sombre start to 2020, let’s hope there is some good news and positivity on the horizon.