Councillor profiles - Keri Shannon Mayor, Town of Cambridge, Western Australia

Article image - Councillor profiles - Keri Shannon  Mayor, Town of Cambridge, Western Australia

Urban oasis
The Town of Cambridge is fortunate to be close to the City as well as having urban wetlands, bushland and beaches. It extends from Lake Monger in West Leederville and Wembley through Perry Lakes to the coast with the beaches of City Beach and Floreat.

My favourite attractions are the Quarry Amphitheatre in Bold Park, which is a natural amphitheatre that was converted into a performance venue. It hosts performers including the WA Ballet who perform in the unique bushland setting with views to the Perth City skyline. We have also just completed a new surf club and restaurant precinct at City Beach at a cost of $17.5 million. It offers a variety of restaurants, which complement the extensive grassed areas adjacent to the beach allowing people to picnic and enjoy the view.

Taking back community control
I have only been on council for 18 months. I became Mayor as part of a community campaign in response to a town planning scheme amendment, which sought to significantly increase density in the residential streets of the garden suburbs of Floreat and City Beach.

The housing placement and subdivision pattern of these suburbs does not lend itself to retrofitting density easily, and they are serviced by infrequent public transport. We propose to implement density in a way that allows the character of the suburbs to remain and we are currently preparing our local planning strategy. I see myself as the conduit to the community taking back control of their community.

Outside of Council I work as an in-house legal counsel. I had to resign my full time position and now work in a part time capacity. I believe my legal skills have been invaluable in my role as Mayor, particularly given the strategic planning which confronts our local government.

I have three school-aged children so I am regularly involved in my local community through their participation in sports or other extra curricular activities. I also like to keep fit and I enjoy cycling and walking our dog, Dash.

Challenges and goals
Implementing density without an adequate transport network is a challenge. We have a heavy bias towards residential homes in the Town and therefore our current challenges are in terms of traffic congestion and parking.   

I lived in Singapore for a number of years and saw how apartment living and density can work well. Developers in Perth have built poor apartment offerings in terms of liveability. I would like to see apartments that are large enough to house a family and include adequate gardens and tree canopy instead of zero setbacks in order to maximise build out.

We are currently assessing the feasibility of using treated water to recharge the aquifer under Perry Lakes, which is an urban wetland in Floreat. The water levels have significantly reduced since the 1970s and we hope to redirect the treated water, which is currently pumped out into the ocean.

We successfully lobbied the Minister for Planning to reject the town planning scheme amendment for City Beach and Floreat. We are now undertaking a local planning strategy for our Town, which will balance residential amenity with increased density and development that brings vibrancy to our community. We have been successful in obtaining state government funding for three underground power projects in the Town at a cost of $30 million.  This has been an objective for the Town for almost 10 years and leaves only 2000 dwellings serviced by overhead power within the Town.

Reflecting and looking ahead
I find the best part of being a councillor is meeting people from our community,

hearing their stories and then using that perspective to bring good outcomes to our community. Its been a real privilege to participate in citizenship ceremonies, senior citizen lunches and youth music nights which help build our communities.

Into the future I would like to put water back into Perry Lakes in order to reactivate and enhance the wetlands for residents’ leisure activities.

I would like to create a strategic plan that provides certainty for homeowners and developers. I think we can get the balance between residential amenity and liveability and activation of spaces, thereby enhancing people’s leisure time. Often doing nothing is a valid option until you know you have the balance right.