Alexandrina Council prepares 20 year plan following community consultation

Alexandrina 2040: Community engagement during November, captured during the Strathalbyn Park Run, community participants filling out Council feedback surveys.
Alexandrina 2040: Community engagement during November, captured during the Strathalbyn Park Run, community participants filling out Council feedback surveys.

Following extensive consultation, the Alexandrina Council has released a report entitled "What We Heard," detailing the community's hopes for the future of the district, over the next 20 years.

In the spring of 2019, council put a call out for ideas as part of the 'Alexandrina 2040' project, asking residents and visitors what they loved about the region and what challenges and opportunities they believed it might face between now and 2040.

A number of findings from this project have since been released, and Alexandrina CEO Glenn Rappensberg said council was committed to taking community feedback on board.

"Our region has a lot to offer and we are committed to embracing the unique charm of our townships, with a focus on delivering services and infrastructure which support our prosperity while enhancing the Alexandrina way of life," said Mr Rappensberg.

During October and November 2019, a survey was sent to all ratepayers, listening posts were held at thirteen community events, four community focus groups took place, and thousands of local school students had their say through classroom sessions. In total, council received specific ideas from more than 1100 people.

A spokesperson said council was excited to share people's big ideas for making Alexandrina a better place to live, study, work and play.

"The findings show that what people love most about Alexandrina is our sense of community and our friendly people, our natural environment including the river, our beaches and countryside, and the broad range of community facilities such as libraries, skate parks, bike paths and playgrounds," said the spokesperson.

"The community identified climate change and environmental issues, the need for services and infrastructure to keep up with a growing population and opportunities for local employment as the biggest challenges facing our region."

Ideas shared by residents focussed on how the council and community could work together to meet identified challenges, while embracing continued investment in community facilities and sustainability, as well as supporting local business.

These key ideas have been summarised within the report under four key themes: Social Fabric, Sustainable Resource Management, Education & Economy and Environment & Outdoor Recreation.

Throughout February and March 2020, village conversation workshops will be held in eight townships across the region, giving locals a further opportunity to discuss their ideas on how council should prioritise its spending.

Mayor Keith Parkes thanked the community for their involvement in the Alexandrina 2040 process and is said he encouraged people to keep sharing their ideas.

"The amount of feedback received during the first round of Alexandrina 2040 was fantastic. It's given us a lot of really valuable information to work with, and I encourage everyone to come along to their nearest village conversation to continue influencing council strategy and direction, and help us pave a positive and proactive path into the future," said Mr Parkes.

For those who can't attend a workshop, an online budgeting survey will open on February 10.

This survey will give the community an opportunity to learn more about the challenges of balancing the Council budget.

"Like all councils, we must rise to the challenge of balancing the needs and aspirations of our growing community, with community ability and willingness to pay," said Mr Parkes.

"We are confident that by working with community to better understand local and regional priorities, together we can realise the full potential of Alexandrina 2040."

Community feedback will now be used by council to prepare the Alexandrina 2040 Strategic Plan as well as a new Long Term Financial Plan and Infrastructure & Asset Management Plan.

Further information about Alexandrina 2040 including village conversation dates, venues and bookings, and a copy of the full "What We Heard" report, can be found on the Council's MySay website via: mysay.alexandrina.sa.gov.au/A2040