Friday, 17 December 2021 14:51

President's message: Reflecting on 2021

WSROC President, Clr Barry Calvert WSROC President, Clr Barry Calvert

2021 has been another challenging year for both councils and their communities. However, there have also been some fantastic achievements and I would like to reflect on some of the positive outcomes from the last 12 months.

Turn Down the Heat Strategy and Action Plan

Our collective work on addressing urban and extreme heat has come ahead in leaps and bounds.

In 2021 WSROC launched its industry-leading Urban Heat Planning Toolkit which has won awards from the Greater Sydney Commission and the Planning Institute of Australia. However, documents like this are meaningless if they simply sit on a shelf. I have been excited to see councils actively using the Toolkit, and the first urban heat controls emerging in the current round of LEP and DCP reviews on exhibition – this is the first time that urban heat has been overtly delivered via planning controls and Western Sydney councils should be proud to be leading the way.

On the industry front, WSROC has received fantastic feedback from developers and state government on its Cool Suburbs rating tool. The beta version of the tool is soon-to-be released but is already being consulted by the NSW Government in its current revision of state planning policies. It was fantastic to see urban heat featuring prominently in the draft Design and Place SEPP this month – while a more thorough review is yet to be conducted, we should celebrate the first state planning instrument mandating consideration of urban heat as a planning challenge.

Despite a challenging year for collaboration, WSROC has released its blueprint for improved heatwave management – the Heat Smart Resilience Framework – as well as a series of educational resources and community workshops for building local preparedness for heatwaves – an often-underestimated threat to health and safety.

Regional Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy

WSROC’s EPA-funded regional waste program will be wrapping up over the coming six months after almost eight years of fantastic work. In 2021 we saw a range of regional projects from long-term strategic analyses to place-based community education programs.

WSROC has been working with councils to develop region-scale research and insights that help inform planning and operations of individual councils. This has included:  

  • Cost benefit analysis of community rebate and waste avoidance programs
  • Training for waste and planning staff to improve skills assessing waste and resource recovery provisions in development applications
  • Investigation into onsite organic waste processing technologies for residential flat buildings
  • Regional procurement of community social research to understand community sentiment to recycling programs across the region
  • Development of a local government textile recovery action plan

 WSROC’s regional waste team has also coordinated programs to help Western Sydney communities reduce waste. This included:

  • A partnership with Bunnings to promote council community recycling centres,
  • Online reusable nappy workshops for new parents
  • A reusable, sway-and-go coffee cup campaign in partnership with local cafes
  • Multi-language recycling education campaign
  • Multi-media campaign to prevent kerbside illegal dumping in partnership with Realestate.com and Domain.

Western Sydney Energy Program

To date the Western Sydney Energy Program has seen Western Sydney’s emissions slashed by 338,134t CO2e and a $20 million reduction in council energy costs. In WSEPs second year, councils have been focused on developing the Electric Vehicle Roadmap –setting collective 2030 targets for the EV transition, starting with electrification of council fleets and partnerships to deliver EV charging infrastructure.

Great West Walk

Finally it was heartening to see the NSW Government dedicate funding to deliver more than 26,000 new trees for Western Sydney’s longest walking trail; the Great West Walk. Running from Parramatta to the Nepean River, delivery of the Great West Walk was a collaborative effort by landholders Blacktown City Council, City of Parramatta Council, Penrith City Council, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, and the Western Sydney Parklands Trust thanks to mapping from the Walking Volunteers. The walk’s launch and branding was coordinated by WSROC.

Finally, following council elections on December 4, there will be many WSROC Board Members and Councillors that will not be returning in 2022. I would like to offer my sincere thanks for everyone’s contribution to guiding WSROC’s program of works over the last five years – and look forward to meeting our new members in 2022.

Last modified on Friday, 17 December 2021 16:44