Council Minutes - Section A: Procedural Matters - 9 June 2020

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Minutes of the Community Focus Council Meeting of the Greater Geelong City Council held at the Council Conference and Reception Centre in City Hall, 57 Little Malop Street, Geelong commencing at 7:00pm.



Present

Councillors:


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Also present:


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Opening

The Chair declared the meeting open at 7:00pm.


Acknowledgements

Council acknowledged Wadawurrung Traditional Owners of this land and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People who are part of the Greater Geelong community today.


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Welcome

The Mayor welcomed Junior Mayor, Farzana Hussaini and Deputy Mayor, Ashley Delaney to the meeting.


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Adjournment

The meeting was adjourned from approximately 7:02pm and recommenced at approximately 7:18pm due to technical difficulties.


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Apologies

Nil.


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Confirmation of Minutes

Councillor Mansfield moved, Councillor Mason seconded –

That the Minutes of the Community Focus Council Meeting held on 12 May 2020 be confirmed.

Carried.


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Declaration of Conflicts of Interest

Nil.


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Public Question and Submission Time

Vicki Perrett asked the following:

  1. It is unfortunate that Council continues to take short cuts in the development of its Sustainability Framework and Action Plan. The extended public consultation period generated 96 survey responses and further direct submissions.

    This level of interest should alert Councillors to the importance of this issue to the community and their desire to be part of the solution. I would agree that the revised objectives (previously called Priority Actions) in the Sustainability Framework 2020 have improved clarity and scope.

    However, why is Council moving this amendment before receiving the full feedback report, which is not due to be tabled until 14 July?

    This does not seem to be in keeping with Local Government Act (LGA) s9(i) “the transparency of Council decisions, actions and information is to be ensured”.

    Thank you for your questions Vicki:

    On 25 February 2020 the Council approved the Sustainability Framework and endorsed seeking community feedback on the Action Plan. Whilst the engagement process was aimed at collecting community feedback about the Action Plan, some feedback related to the Framework itself. It was timely to update the Sustainability Framework to reflect the community feedback.

    As planned, the Action Plan associated with the Sustainability Framework will now be revised based on the complete review of the feedback received from our community. The revised Action Plan will be tabled in July with the final engagement report. As the parent document to the Action Plan it is important that the Framework best reflects what our community has told us so that the City can now plan and deliver these objectives.

  2. The objective to “Make the City’s operations carbon neutral” is unacceptably weak. Council’s own emissions account for only 1% of the region’s total carbon emissions.

    We are in a climate emergency.

    Will the City of Greater Geelong set quantitative targets for the whole municipality on emissions reduction and renewable energy as required by the new overarching principles in the LGA section 9(h)?

    Response:

    The Local Government Act 2020 requires Councils to identify and address climate change risks and to consider any regional, state and regional plans and policies in our strategic planning and decision making.

    The City has set its own carbon emissions reductions targets in the Zero Carbon Emission Strategy and aims to achieve a 100% emissions reduction target by 2050. The decision to become a carbon neutral organisation demonstrates that the City is leading by example.

    Whilst the City can lead the conversation and set a good example regionally in relation to emissions reduction, the City is not able to set enforceable targets for emissions reduction, which is the role of the State and/or Federal governments.

  3. The community needs hope and inspiration. We support your stated definition of sustainability - “Working together to position our community, environment and economy to meet our sustainability challenges now and in the future.” The community wants to work with Council but is currently only allowed to comment on drafts. Stakeholders should be collaborating on an effective climate action plan. Instead we are been worn down responding to more and more environmental plans and strategies.

    Can we have a process like Warrnambool that has produced an excellent inclusive plan, W2040?

    Response:

    The proposed updated Sustainability Framework has an increased focus on community knowledge and input. We recognise that there is a wealth of experience, knowledge and skill in our community and that we can improve public participation in decision making. As part of the implementation of the Sustainability Framework we will identify how we can best activate this community expertise. Best practice initiatives by other local government authorities, such as W2040, will inform the final implementation plan.


Sally Fisher asked Council to explain how the Sustainability Framework is consistent with the new Local Government Act 2020 which requires : S9(c) the economic, social and environmental sustainability of the municipal district, including mitigation and planning for climate change risks, is to be promoted; (d) the municipal community is to be engaged in strategic planning and strategic decision making; (f) collaboration with other Councils and Governments and statutory bodies is to be sought; (h) regional, state and national plans and policies are to be taken into account in strategic planning and decision making; (i) the transparency of Council decisions, actions and information is to be ensured:

Thank you for your questions Sally:

Section 9 of the Local Government Act 2020 identifies the overarching governance principles and supporting principles of Council and includes identification and addressing of climate change risks, engaging community, collaboration with others, the consideration of any regional, state and regional plans and ensuring transparency.

The proposed updated Sustainability Framework objectives include:

The Sustainability Framework was first developed in February 2020 in response to community demand for action on climate change. Given the urgency, the Framework was informed by stakeholder feedback generated in a series of workshops. Consultation on the associated Action Plan was extended by several weeks to ensure that more members of our community could have their say. A final report on this consultation is currently being prepared and will be publicly available in July. All strategies and plans established or reviewed as part of the implementation will be made available to the community for feedback. City works with other local governments in a number of ways including the G21 Geelong Regional Alliance, made up of Surf Coast Shire, Colac Otway Shire, Golden Plains and the Borough of Queenscliffe. The City is actively participating in the recently established Barwon South West Greenhouse Alliance to ensure an integrated approach to climate risk is taken across the region.

It is important to recognise that large scale emissions reduction and renewable energy uptake is most impacted by State and Federal government policies and plans. The strategies and plans that support the Sustainability Framework align with relevant State and Federal government plans and policies including the Victorian Renewable Energy Target. The City has recently established an advocacy function to work better with other levels of government to deliver better outcomes for our community.


Neil Plummer asked:

For the first objective in the Sustainability Framework, i.e. “Recognise a global climate emergency and take appropriate action”, what differences will the Geelong community experience from a ‘global’ emergency as compared to a ‘local ’emergency?

Following on from this, what are three appropriate actions that the Geelong community will see over the next three years to mitigate our most serious risks from this emergency?

Thank you for your question Neil:

Recognising a global emergency acknowledges the interconnectedness of the modern world which provides both challenges and opportunities to the sustainability of our local region. We will use internationally recognised standards through the Global Reporting Initiatives while taking actions that have the biggest impact at a local level.

Priority objectives have been identified and a draft Action Plan was released for community feedback. The community consultation closed at the end of May and a full report will go to the Council in July with a revised Action Plan which will identify priority actions.


Sanja Van Huet asked that The Sustainability Framework should not be voted on in its current form. One of the biggest missteps Council can make will be to focus on Council-only carbon emissions over developing a whole of municipality action plan. 10% of carbon emissions come from Council only business – what of the other 90%, which are municipality generated?

My question is – when will Council make a serious evaluation of the impact they could make to address climate change factors?

This must include whole of municipality initiatives; working with citizens advocacy groups and amending the current Sustainability Framework accordingly. Transparency was one of the key points out of the 2017 Citizens Jury. Sadly; constituents who have been following Council decision making and public messages (via local news and letterbox drops) note with increasing frustration that this is missing in many aspects of Council operations. Clarity is being lost in polispeak. The language, rhetoric and narrowness of the scope of the Framework is just one example.

Please make the correct decision for the right reasons.

Thank you for your question Sanja:

The decision to become a carbon neutral organisation demonstrates that the City is leading by example. It is important to the City that we report on the performance of the Sustainability Framework and that our targets are SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. We will continue to support emissions reduction across the municipality through our policies and plans including encouraging active transport through the Shared Trails Masterplan.

It is also important to recognise that large scale emissions reduction and renewable energy uptake is most impacted by State and Federal government policies and plans. The strategies and plans that support the Sustainability Framework align with relevant State and Federal government plans and policies including the Victorian Renewable Energy Target.


Karen Campbell writes as a Professor of Population Nutrition representing a group of colleagues within Deakin University’s Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition.

Further to our submission regarding the City of Greater Geelong’s Sustainability Framework and Action Plan we are encouraged to see the revised Sustainability Framework now referencing community education regarding sustainable practice and importantly support for local sustainable food production.

We would like to ask:

  1. Can Council provide clear objectives and measurable, time specific outcomes to provide detail around how Council will support local sustainable food production?

  2. Can Council expand this acknowledgement of sustainable food systems to include a whole of systems mission, thus addressing Council’s role in promoting local food procurement, reducing food transport and actively seeking to reduce food waste (30% of all food goes is wasted?

  3. IPAN would welcome the opportunity to work with the City of Greater Geelong to progress this sustainability agenda offering high level skills in the areas of sustainable food systems, community health behaviour change and also in the domain of active transport. Can the Council confirm it will seek opportunities offered by local experts in the area of food sustainability and active transport to meet its obligations to engage with its municipal community (S9 Local Government Act)?

Thank you for your questions Karen:

The revised Framework includes an objective to “Encourage and support local, sustainable food production”. If the revised Framework is adopted, items will be added to the associated Action Plan that will support this objective. We have noted your comments above and will look at how this and other feedback can be used in revising existing policies and plans to meet the desired outcomes.

We appreciate your offer to provide expertise on food systems and behaviour change and have noted your details and will ensure you and your colleagues are invited to engage further with the City on sustainable food.


Noreen Nicholson asked the following:

I am glad to see that there is a community request for Council recognition within the Sustainability Framework, that recognises not only are we in a global emergency but of course a local Climate Emergency declaration is required (emergency definition: a serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action), which will need immediate attention and courageous leadership.

COVID-19 has established a new way of responding to an emergency...immediate, funded, whole of country (local, regional, state) unprecedented action! So given the overwhelming scientific evidence, why are we not taking the same measures for the Climate Emergency?

What are our immediate control and intervention measures for the Climate Emergency in the local and regional context.

ABC Science News report today: The next pandemic is coming - and sooner than we think, thanks to changes to the environment, link here. 'Researchers say human impacts on the natural world are causing new infectious diseases to emerge more frequently than ever before, meaning the next pandemic - one perhaps even worse than COVID-19 is only a matter of time.

"We know that it's a probability, not a possibility" Dr. Reid says. Cutting into forests or previously undisturbed ecosystems, often to expand agricultural land, drive out pathogens that were locked in the wild. Biodiversity and habitat loss helps diseases spread among wild animals. Dense human populations living together in greater numbers in cities facilitate their spread'. Given the projected growth in the Greater Geelong area over the coming years, what implications does this warning have for us all?

It is my understanding that there is a Council mindset that $70K is sufficient for enviro grants as that covers the applications that are received. I would like to propose that the $6K grant limit and onerous 13 page grant application for environmental and sustainability grants will never fund those more complex clever and creative projects that will make a world of difference in a climate emergency.


Gene Blackley from Drawdown Australia offered his vision for Greater Geelong as, “evolving into a net-zero emissions economy, accepting the extraordinary economic regeneration opportunities with a diversity of urban, agricultural, and marine environments together with a manufacturing, education and services economy”. We look to you for Leadership in realising this vision for Geelong in this post COVID-19 recovery.

  1. In your Community Grants review and updated Sustainability Framework Action Plan, are you seriously reconsidering the maximum funding required for environment/sustainability grants, that will support innovative enviro projects to maximise impact in the regions' recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and Climate Emergency, given the two are inextricably linked?

    Thank you for your question Noreen:

    The Council adopted a number of changes to the 2020-21 grants at its meeting on 24 March 2020. This included raising the maximum funding for individual Environment and Sustainability grants to $10,000 and updating the guidelines to better reflect Council’s policy. Every effort is made to streamline the application process for the many community groups applying for grants whilst maintaining appropriate governance arrangements. We welcome any feedback on the application process to assist us to improve.


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Petitions

Nil.


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Contents | Next Page: Section B – Reports