Councillor profiles - Mayor Gary Brennan City of Bunbury
Accessible regional city
Bunbury is Western Australia’s ‘Second City’, located 160kms South West of Perth. The traditional owners are the Wardandi clan of the Noongar people. The Bunbury Port currently exports close to 20 million tonnes of products annually including Alumina, grains, woodchips and mineral sands. Whilst the municipal area of Bunbury is 65Km2 it is the regional centre for the South West of WA. Bunbury is recognised as having an enviable lifestyle, a diverse economy and has all the services and facilities of Perth just on a smaller scale.
We have a wonderful environment with water on three sides of our central business district. The former and current State governments have committed substantial funding for the Transitioning Bunbury Waterfront project. This project includes multimillion-dollar landscaping and infrastructure construction that will provide substantial benefits to the local and regional communities. It is anticipated other developers will join with local and interstate developers already actively investing in Bunbury to take advantage of the many economic and social opportunities that exist now and will arise in future. Within a short drive from Bunbury we have the Geographe Wine Region, which includes the Ferguson and Preston Valleys and attractions within Harvey and Capel Shire Council areas. We are a creative community with a number of very active visual and performing arts groups and a number of very active craft groups. We have become a preferred location for a number of National and State sporting events including sailing, BVMX, volleyball and Triathlons. Our passive dual use paths and recreational areas ensure access for all physical and other disabilities as we aim to become Australia’s most accessible regional city by 2020.
From CEO to Mayor
I have been Mayor since 2013. My role as Mayor follows a career in Local Government at Chief Executive Officer level, a 4.5-year period as Chief of Staff to former Minister for Local Government Hon John Castrilli and seven years as a consultant to the sector.
I became involved as Mayor as I believed I was able to make a worthwhile contribution to the community I am so passionate about.
I am a Board Member of the South West Development Commission, which has a regional strategic focus on economic and social growth. I believe my activities as Mayor and serving on this Board are complimentary as I continue to learn and be amazed and inspired at what some especially the younger cohort are doing within our Bunbury community and in the South West region more generally. I am a member of the South West JP Association and participate on the Roster.
My wife Robyn and I have five grandchildren living within a range of 75kms so catching up with family is important to us and takes priority over everything. We enjoy good health and have in recent years walked to the Everest Base Camp, completed the overland trail in Tassie, cycled and barged in Europe and next April will be riding the Alps to Ocean route in New Zealand’s South Island.
Collaboration success and growth challenges
We have embarked on a Civic Cultural Precinct project as we continue to ensure our CBD remains vibrant and attractive for residents and visitors to visit and socialise in. Our new Town Planning Scheme is a creative approach to town planning as we seek to envisage how our community will change over the next 20 years in terms of residential options and taking a flexible and enabling approach to blending compatible mixed uses.
We have re-engaged with our community listening to the views and taken them along our journey. Our partnering with the State government and key organisations such as the Bunbury Geographe Chamber of Commerce and Industry has resulted in some great shared outcomes. We are also enjoying a high level of collaboration with our neighbouring Local Governments.
Our council challenges continue to focus on our annual budget. Supporting our community and catering for growth whilst understanding our community’s ability to fund our operating and capital programs has been absolutely tested especially over the past two years.
Holding the baton
I continue to be amazed and inspired by what members of our community are doing. I thought I had a reasonable understanding of our community prior to becoming Mayor but I have been honoured to meet hear and observe activities and outcomes I was not previously aware of.
My next challenge is to be re-elected in October this year. I view my role as holding the baton for the next Mayor and in the meantime to do whatever I can to continuously make Bunbury a better place. While I hold that baton I intend to continue to be a proactive engaging and facilitative community leader. The next four years are going to be another period of increasing pace of change and adjustment to factors we have some or no control over. To be part of that agenda is an exciting and stimulating prospect.