Taking time to reflect

January 5, 2022 BY

Councillor Anthony Aitken

AS we prepare to begin 2022 with hopes of positive times ahead, it is nice to reflect on the 12 months just passed.

While it has been a very tough year in many ways, the Geelong community has shown amazing resilience and people have continued to achieve great things.

As chair of the council’s City Services, Parks and Gardens portfolio, I have marvelled at the work of these departments through some challenging circumstances and events.

Staff in these areas are at the frontline in serving the community and they are passionate about what they do – always stepping up when needed.

A shining example was the team’s response to the major storm event late in October, which saw trees damaged, roads blocked and powerlines down – particularly in Ocean Grove and Barwon Heads, which bore the brunt of the weather.

The team received more than 1,200 requests for service in a very short space of time, working into Friday night and returning Saturday morning to work through urgent requests as quickly as possible.

They continued to follow up in the days and weeks after, including inspecting trees in major locations such as the Bellarine Rail Trail and our public golf courses to ensure public safety.

It was a great team effort that also involved working with the SES and VicRoads on urgent public safety issues. Our teams have been recognised during the year for innovative projects that have contributed to environmental sustainability.

The City of Greater Geelong won the Waste Award at the 2021 Keep Victoria Beautiful awards for the Recycled Roads project.

This project is seeing roads resurfaced using products made from materials collected via our kerbside recycling services – a true example of the circular economy in action!

One material being used is PlastiPhalt, which is partially made from plastics that would otherwise be sent to landfill.
Another, Polyrock, is made using the soft plastic bags we drop off for recycling at the supermarket and is being used for concrete kerbs.

These types of projects contributed to the City of Greater Geelong winning the overall 2021 Sustainable City Award – a major achievement recognising both the overall strategic focus of the council and the day-to-day work of staff across the organisation.

More recently, the city won the ‘Excellence in Asset Management’ category at the Victorian Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia (IPWEA) Engineering Excellence Awards.

This was recognition of the team’s Asset Management Transformation Project, which was rolled out with the help of new employees hired via the state government’s ‘Working for Victoria’ COVID-19 response initiative.

In addition, the asset team was also commended in the ‘Excellence in Innovation’ category for the new Stormwater Services Strategy, which was adopted by the council earlier this year.

Internally, councillors have acknowledged some outstanding work from Engineering and City Works staff through our mayor and councillors’ Clever and Creative Awards.

I nominated our Engineering Services team for the solution they found for persistent flooding of the Hovells Creek shared path, running under the Princes Freeway near Lara.

Options were very limited because there is no extra space under the bridge (therefore raising the path isn’t possible), strict environmental regulations, and lack of a power supply.

The team designed and installed pumps run by solar panels, which automatically kick into action whenever water covers the path – pumping it back into the creek.

An outstanding solution that is both environmentally friendly and keeps the path available for community access at all times.

We also acknowledged three City Works employees for going above the call of duty where they administered first aid to a member of the community in Geelong West.

They contacted emergency services and followed directions to provide CPR until an ambulance arrived. A brilliant effort.

So a huge thank you to everyone in the city’s City Services, Parks and Gardens teams for your work during 2021. You have served our community brilliantly.

And to everyone in Greater Geelong – I hope you enjoyed Christmas and I wish you a very happy New Year.

Stay safe, recharge your batteries, share time with your family and friends if you can, and cheers to 2022.

Cr Anthony Aitken
Windermere Ward, City of Greater Geelong

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