Bayswater Council last night adopted a $5.09 million local economic and social stimulus package aimed at fast tracking major projects, generating local employment and supporting community organisations to recover from the COVID-19 crisis.
Mayor Dan Bull said he called the special Council meeting last night to enable Council to endorse the COVID-19 Advisory Committee recommendations and implement the local economic and social stimulus package earlier than would normally have been possible.
“This stimulus package precedes the adoption of our 2020/21 Budget and is on top a number of initiatives Council has already adopted to support the community including waiving rent payable by 70 of its community leaseholders for six months, not charging interest on late rate payments until the end of the financial year and offering ‘Buy in Baysie’ local business grants to support businesses to move online.
“At last night’s special meeting, Council also opted to cut planning fees by at least 50 percent to encourage investment in the City and remove fees entirely on applications to operate a business from home, food trucks and change of use (such as the conversion of a vacant building to support a new business).
“The stimulus package will enable the City to fast track a number of projects we already have on the books. Originally intended to be completed in stages, over a number of years, the City will bring forward ‘shovel ready’ projects in an effort to generate local employment, provide employment security for our staff and upgraded facilities for the community.
“We are a strong and stable Council, with the capacity to draw down on reserves which can now be used to bolster the local economy, support those in our community who are facing hardship and put us firmly on the path to recovery. We are keen to provide certainty for our community and staff during these challenging times.
“As part of the stimulus package the City has committed $3.15 million towards kick starting major projects that have been given the green light by Council. This includes $1.5 million towards works at Bayswater Waves and a further $850,000 at the Noranda netball courts over and above the $500,000 that is available in the current budget. Along with $600,000 for Morley Sport and Recreation Centre and $200,000 for Maylands Waterland to undertake the detailed design work needed to progress with major upgrades to those facilities. Commencing these projects now not only gives us a head start but provides certainty for staff and work for local contractors. It also lays the groundwork for the 2020/21 Budget.
“I am confident Council’s adoption of the local economic and social stimulus package will enable the City not only to navigate this crisis, but emerge in a stronger position than before.
“As part of the stimulus package the City will also immediately progress with $286,762 of capital projects to support local community groups. We appreciate the devastating affect restrictions, put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, have had on our community groups and clubs and we have already waived rental payments for community leaseholders for the next six months.
“Under normal circumstances community groups would be required to contribute towards upgrades to access the City’s Community Capital Grant Funding. As part of the stimulus package, the City will now foot the entire bill for 20 projects due to be funded. Upgrades such as the refurbishment of change room facilities at the Lightning Park Recreation Centre and installation of a shaded grandstand at the Bayswater Tennis Club are aimed at helping clubs navigate the current crisis and will allow us to employ local contractors and suppliers. It will also mean members will be able to enjoy upgraded facilities once restrictions are lifted.
The stimulus package also brings forward $1.3 million worth of infrastructure projects including $400,000 for new footpaths and maintenance of our existing ones, $200,000 for road resurfacing, $400,000 for improvements to our parks, $200,000 in town centre streetscape improvements and $100,000 for additional and replacement lighting in public spaces.
“Putting money towards infrastructure projects helps us retain staff as they continue to provide the essential services valued by our community. It makes sense to invest in our parks, lighting and footpaths given their increased usage which we believe will continue beyond the current restrictions. Additional lighting and improvements to our town centre will give struggling businesses a boost.
The community will directly benefit from $200,000 provided in the stimulus package to upgrade City facilities. The funds will go towards painting, replacing carpets and air conditioners at facilities.
“The funds will enable us to put our local contractors to work in sprucing up some of the City’s facilities so they are all ready for the community to use once restrictions are lifted.
The City will also use $150,000 from the stimulus package to install renewable energy and energy efficient infrastructure such as LEDS and solar panels across community facilities. This is in line with our renewable energy targets and will provide cost benefits in the longer term.
In approving the $5.09 million local stimulus package Council took one step further, requesting the CEO, Andrew Brien, develop a package aimed specifically at supporting business investment and growth across the City. This package will be considered by Council as part of its 2020/21 Budget.
“In adding this further element to the local stimulus package we acknowledge the vital role local businesses play in our local economy.
“This stimulus package will provide a firm basis for our budget deliberations. It is focused on recovery and is designed to get our local community back on its feet. It will also ensure we are positioned to capitalise on State or Federal government funding, if and when it becomes available. I have already written to the Prime Minister, the Hon Scott Morrison, to advise him of our intention to fast track projects to support our local community and have requested funding to support our actions. This package responds to the calls from State government to drive economic renewal at a local level.