Corporation of the Town of Walkerville
Although the Corporation of the Town of Walkerville is the smallest metropolitan Council in South Australia with a population of just over 7,000, the Council can proudly boast that it has reached a significant milestone this year – 150 continuous years of Local Government. Walkerville Council is situated adjacent to the north eastern boundary of the City of Adelaide. This inner city Council’s ratepayers are predominantly residential, with commercial activities being mainly confined to a section of Walkerville Terrace, North East and Main North Road.
Snapshot of Walkerville
Some of Adelaide’s prestigious homes are located in the Town including Willyama, Ivanhoe and the Briars. However, approximately nine per cent of homes/units in the Council area are owned by the South Australian Housing Trust. Six schools are found in the Town including two state primary school (Vale Park and Walkerville), three private schools (Wilderness – a girls R-Year 12 School, St Andrew’s School – Anglican R-Year 7 and St Monica’s – Catholic R-Year 7) and the Cora Barclay Centre whose teachers support the state’s deaf and hearing impaired children and families.
Other well known features in Walkerville include the Walkerville Sports Oval and Bowling Club, both having recently undergone extensive renovation by Council; the picturesque River Torrens/Linear Park which is enjoyed by walkers and bike riders alike; Levi Park Caravan Park which overlooks the River Torrens and includes the State Heritage listed Vale House and the Walkerville YMCA.
Establishing Local Government
The first settlement at Walkerville took place in 1838, two years after South Australia was colonised. The Town was named after Captain John Walker, one of the original property owners who later was appointed as a State Police Commissioner. In 1853, Walkerville was included in the original District Council of Yatala, however, on 5 July 1855 the District Council of Walkerville was declared as an independent Council identity.
Currently the Council area is divided into three wards – Vale Park, Walkerville and Medindie/Gilbert with each Ward being represented by three Councillors. John Rich, Mayor of Walkerville, is the presiding member of Council.
The issue of Walkerville Council amalgamating with one or more of its neighbouring Councils has been raised on occasions by the State Government of the day. However, Walkerville residents have been vocal and resolute in their desire to remain independent.
Council and community
Elected members and staff have enjoyed, and continue to enjoy a close relationship with their residents, ensuring that Council services and facilities reflect the changing community’s needs. Walkerville Council’s residential rate in the dollar for the 2004/2005 financial year is .226 cents which is very competitive when compared with other Councils in metropolitan Adelaide.
The secret of Walkerville’s independent status can be attributed in part to resource sharing and regionalisation of services. For Walkerville to offer both cost effective and efficient services, working with its neighbouring Councils on a number of ventures not only produces economies of scale but also value added services.
SWAP – resource sharing a winner
Almost 15 years ago, the Councils of St Peters, Prospect and Walkerville had the vision to set up and establish a shared library computer network system, known as SWAP (an acronym of the Council’s initials). Library patrons certainly benefited from the SWAP network as borrowers could reserve and borrow stock from any of the three libraries.
With a daily weekday courier service between the libraries, patron access to resources was visibly increased from the four walls of their local library. The SWAP Network increased with the amalgamation of St Peters with Norwood and Payneham in 1997. Campbelltown City Council joined SWAP in 2004 and now the network services 100,000 residents.
Importantly, Walkerville Council is an equal partner in SWAP and other regional cooperative projects. As stated in the SWAP Deed of Cooperation, the SWAP Library Network Committee meet at least twice a year and the Chief Executive Officer and an elected member from each of the respective Councils have the same number of voting rights, that is two per Council.
Although Walkerville may be the smallest partner in terms of population, the ‘Town’ is an equal partner on the SWAP Committee and other regional committees and boards. The importance of this ‘equal level of partnership’ cannot be understated as it ensures that Walkerville Council has the same degree of input and say into the current and future direction of these joint projects.
Other regional projects
The MERO (Metropolitan Eastern Region Organisation) Chief Executive Officers and Mayors are working together to consider other services which may be better provided on a regional basis. Members of the MERO group are the City of Burnside, Campbelltown City Council, City of Norwood, Payneham and St Peters, City of Prospect, City of Tea Tree Gully and the Corporation of the Town of Walkerville.
Walkerville Council is also very fortunate that a number of committed residents and voluntary groups play a significant role in the local community. For example this year’s Art Show is a joint Council, Rotary Club of Walkerville and Walkerville Society Inc project.
Town Centre revitalisation
The year 2005 is shaping up to be an exciting one for Walkerville’s future development. In December 2004, Mayor Rich announced that following Council’s successful negotiations with the State Government, Walkerville was able to purchase the TransportSA land carpark, situated mainly along Walkerville Terrace in the Town Centre.
The Town Centre Revitalisation Project is undoubtedly the most significant project Council has been engaged in this century. The land occupying the current Transport SA carpark will become a major residential/offices and business development which will bring vitality and new residents to the Town.
The future of the Corporation of the Town of Walkerville indeed looks rosy with Council looking forward to celebrating 150 continuous years of service to its community this year.
For further information about Walkerville Council please contact the writer of this story Anne Sawtell, Manager Community Services on (08) 8344 7711 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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