THE economic and social impact of the coronavirus pandemic is one of the defining characteristics of the City of Greater Geelong’s performance over the past financial year, according to the council’s annual report.
Councillors met via Zoom last week to note the 2019-20 Annual Report – one of the few matters that councillors are allowed to consider during the election caretaker period.
The report’s introductory message from chief executive officer Martin Cutter and mayor Stephanie Asher states the city “made major progress towards achieving its commitments” in its four-year Council Plan, but “the COVID-19 pandemic will, without doubt, be the dominant memory of the 2019-20 financial year”.
Between March and June, the council allocated $10.8 million through four separate support packages, committing to deliver targeted assistance measures across a range of areas to both community members and business owners.
“Our initial strategy was to provide immediate relief, but subsequent measures looked further ahead, focusing on our region’s medium-to-long-term economic and social recovery.”
Including the community support measures and the impacts to the city’s facilities and services, COVID-19 had a direct $10.5 million effect on the 2019–20 operating result.
The report states more than 80 per cent of the 130 initiatives outlined in the Council Plan 2018-22 are either complete or on track.
Sustainability became a significant focus over the 12-month period, with several key milestones completed, including the council’s endorsement of its Waste and Resource Recovery Strategy 2020-2030, Environmentally Sustainable Design guidelines being incorporated into the planning scheme, and the establishment of the Renewable Organics Network initiative to investigate organic waste solutions with other councils.
Other measures highlighted by the report include:
- The endorsement of the Social Housing Plan 2020-41, which aims to increase the region’s supply of social housing by 12,000 dwellings over the next 20 years
- $1.7 million over five years was allocated to support food relief services in the region
- Geelong became the first city in Victoria to install public space ‘Smart Node’ street poles, and
- $122.9 million in capital works that created family centres, sporting pavilions and changerooms, and community centres across the region.
“We have still made significant progress on many key projects while providing immediate relief for community members and business owners impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr Cutter said.
“Our Sustainability Framework will be a guiding document towards addressing the impacts of climate change on the Greater Geelong community while steering our work towards becoming a sustainable city-region.
“It was a challenging end to the 2019-20 financial year. The determination of our community to overcome the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic has been remarkable.”