Councillor profiles - This month from City of Burnside, SA

Article image - Councillor profiles - This month from City of Burnside, SA Mayor David Parkin, City of Burnside, South Australia

Rural and residential
The City of Burnside is an established residential municipality located in Adelaide’s eastern suburbs.

It is bounded in the west by the parklands surrounding the Adelaide CBD and in the east by the Adelaide Hills.

The City has two distinct landforms, both with their unique character and management challenges.

The Hills Face Zone character is distinctly native vegetation with the challenge of managing bushfire threat.

In stark contrast are the plains, which are of an established European style character and require the management of mature trees and heritage infrastructure.

Burnside is both inner suburban and rural – in the Adelaide context this is unique as the boundaries run from the Parklands up to the foothills of the Adelaide Hills.

So we deal with issues that both outer and inner councils would manage.

Relatively our population is well educated and involved and we have the highest rates of community volunteering in Australia for metro councils; and I enjoy in particular dealing with community groups and the volunteers.

Burnside is also one of few council areas with Heritage Conservation Zones protecting our streetscapes, right down to original stone kerbing in some locations.  

We manage a section of the Hills Face Zone of the Adelaide Foothills that is considered one of the most bushfire prone areas in Australia due to our Mediterranean climate and the characteristic hot summer months.

Every year the Adelaide Hills experience a number of summer days with occasionally strong dry northerly winds and low humidity that create conditions for extreme bushfire risk.

While the threat of bushfires affects only part of the Council area, the potential consequences are large.

Council works very closely with the residents that live in the bush fire zone, and the CFS, to reduce and manage the ‘fuel load’ and thus the risk of bushfire.

Management and cooperation
The City of Burnside is working on several innovative projects.

Our work in marrying our asset renewal process with our accounting processes is leading edge for local government here in South Australia.

For several years Burnside has been developing and implementing a comprehensive reconciliation of engineering and accounting methodologies that determine asset values, asset maintenance programmes, asset replacement programmes and depreciation provisions.  

It’s a far more intensive auditing process.

We have also implemented major efficiencies for Operations Services staff.

One sub-project within this initiative was the creation of Burnside Asset Mapper (BAM!).  
BAM! is a web mapping application that collects and maintains mapping data; with real time inputs made by staff in the field using mobile technology such as tablet computers.

The application was a finalist in the national Excellence in eGovernment Awards.

The creation of BAM! was very timely in providing arborists the tools they needed to proactively assess and risk manage the changed tree landscape following the major storm event last year.

In February 2014 a wind storm of unprecedented proportions hit our City with winds in excess of 80 km/h, and wind gusts up to 104 km/h over a 16 hour period from 6 pm Monday 3 February to 10 am Tuesday 4 February.

Council received assistance from five other Councils over four days that totalled in excess of 350 man-hours.

The Depot received over 800 reports and requests for assistance from our community with hundreds of trees felled or damaged requiring removal, and thousands of trees audited for their stability and risk of dropping limbs post the storm.

The estimated recovery cost to Council is in excess of $1.3 million.

This was a great example of the cooperation we have with our neighbouring councils in SA; it shows exceptional goodwill.

Dignity, pride and confidence
I nominated for the 2010–14 Council with no local government experience.  I’m now into my second term as Mayor.

The previous elected body had descended into factional fighting and was not viewed well by community.

I thought Burnside deserved better and believed my background and experience would assist me in delivering my mission – to restore dignity, pride and confidence in the entity that is the City of Burnside.

South Australia is fortunate that our local government sector is not politicised; party politics plays no part.

A good councillor requires in particular the ability to look at issues from every perspective and to be able to contribute constructively to debate in the interests of the broader community.   

The satisfying part of being Mayor is the involvement I have with community groups and volunteers in Burnside.  

I enjoy their company and I appreciate what they do.

They are the heartbeat of Burnside and I do all I can to encourage them.