As 2023 draws to a close, I am reflecting on the resilience of local communities and the progress we have made in the past 12 months. Though this season holds different meanings for each of us, it is a time to reflect, reconnect with loved ones, and find some time to reset for the new year. The past few months have brought challenges, with unexpected bushfires and floods hitting our region with intensity. Yet, I continue to see an incredible willingness to support each other and work together when it matters the most.
Looking ahead, excitement grows for our largest ever infrastructure project – the redevelopment of Aqua Energy Leisure Centre. Construction is in full swing, and I am very much looking forward to seeing the facility improve liveability within our community.
This year, we successfully hosted the Gippsland New Energy Conference for a second year running, reinforcing our commitment to renewable energy, and ensuring critical infrastructure is in place to support our new energy future.
Investment continues in emergency planning and recovery, greener initiatives, and enriching our arts and cultural programs across the Shire. Priorities including early years infrastructure, road maintenance, and new land opportunities continue to be at the forefront of our work. Our advocacy for timber communities took us to Parliament House in Canberra and following a persistent approach, we are starting to see tangible outcomes for timber towns like Heyfield and Yarram.
I thank you all for engaging with us to deliver a range of important projects, the Arts and Culture Strategy, supported by the Library Service Review will ensure that even our smallest communities embrace their culture and community through arts and education. This year we contributed over $326,000 in grant funding for local community groups, ensuring that community facilities, events and projects continue to offer spaces for connection, regardless of status or means.
Proud of our progress, I look forward to building on this year’s achievements in 2024. On a personal note, serving as Mayor for a third year fills me with gratitude and I thank you for your continued support.
Wishing everyone a joyful, safe, and healthy year ahead, and Merry Christmas.
Cr Ian Bye, Mayor of Wellington Shire Council