Councillor profiles - Mayor Mark Greenhill OAM Blue Mountains City Council
World heritage city
Our City is unique because it lies within a World Heritage National Park. We host about four million tourists a year. We are also one of the most bushfire prone cities on earth. The Blue Mountains is an interesting and complex place and we celebrate the rich creativity, culture and heritage of the City.
Our World Heritage setting with the unmatched beauty of its natural landscapes and our community are our best attractions. The unique geography of the Blue Mountains defines the City, which comprises 27 character-filled towns and villages spread along 100km of mountainous terrain that links greater Sydney with Western New South Wales.
I have been a councillor for 14 years. I contested my first election 22 years ago. I have been Mayor of the City of Blue Mountains for four years. I also work in the corporate sector. The two roles are very different but my professional management skills help a lot with the role of Mayor. Outside of work hours, I enjoy nothing more than being with my four children – they are my passion.
Key challenges and protecting liveability
A challenge for all councils is the ability to respond and adapt to change. Key financial challenges include continuing to deliver affordable and acceptable levels of service to meet the changing needs of our community and City, and managing $1.2 billion worth of ageing infrastructure.
A key challenge for Blue Mountains City Council is balancing development in a sensitive environment. Our citywide Local Environment Plan 2005 is highly regarded and helps to balance land use and development with protection of the Blue Mountains environment and village character.
The most significant proposal affecting the liveability of Western Sydney for the next Century is the planned Western Sydney Airport at Badgery’s Creek. Council’s long-standing position opposing the Western Sydney Airport is founded on the significant impacts on the communities of the Blue Mountains and Western Sydney.
There are many innovative projects underway at Council, including: an ethical investment strategy; community conservation programs; reducing waste to landfill and increase resource recovery; a co-worker space in Katoomba town centre to stimulate the local economy; reducing greenhouse gas emissions; and a visitor infrastructure investment to manage the impact of increased tourism.
We have achieved a 30 per cent reduction in household waste disposed to landfill since the introduction of Blue Mountains City Councils’ new waste service to 33,000 households on 1 July 2016, which includes a green waste collection. Over 4400 tonnes of garden organics were collected and recycled into compost products. This means we have achieved a huge financial saving to the community – $1.03 million has been saved in waste disposal costs, including almost $260,000 in Waste Levy payments to the NSW Government.
Blue Mountains City Council also plans to reduce carbon emissions by 20 per cent over the next five years. Our Carbon Abatement Action Plan will reduce electricity emissions by up to 270 tonnes per year at Council’s larger facilities.
A memorable time in my local government career was leading the community through the October 2013 bushfires, the worst natural disaster in NSW history, in which almost 200 homes were destroyed. Council’s response included a unique council-led local recovery effort. Another key success was being assessed as ‘Fit for the Future’ by IPART and remaining a stand-alone council. This is an important achievement as it will allow the Council to stay on course to building a successful future for the Blue Mountains.
Going forward, my goal is to make my corner of the world a better place for those who follow.