Councillor profiles - Mayor Robert Anderson Warrnambool City Council
Warrnambool is Victoria’s largest coastal city outside Port Phillip Bay. The municipality, which includes Warrnambool and smaller towns of Allansford, Bushfield and Woodford, is home to 34,000 people. It is 260km west of Melbourne and a three-hour drive along the Princes Highway. For the more adventurous, a journey via the Great Ocean Road takes a little longer but rewards travellers with stunning ocean vistas and the beautiful lushness of the Otways.
Warrnambool covers 120sqkm and is situated within Victoria’s Great South Coast region. This region contains some of the nation’s most fertile soils which are complemented by reliable rainfall and ample groundwater supplies.
The city, which services a regional population of 120,000, has a Deakin University campus, a base hospital, a cancer treatment centre and major employers include meat and dairy processing plants.
Renewing the City
I became a Warrnambool councillor in 2016 and in November 2017, the Mayor of Warrnambool. It’s a great honour.
When I am not engaged in civic duties I am directing funerals or involved in my other passion outside work, lawn bowls. Most of my working career – some 50 years – was spent in retail, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Our city’s vision is to be a Cosmopolitan City by the Sea. We strive to be welcoming, open and inclusive. We are focused on ensuring that Warrnambool remains an attractive place to be for people of all ages to live in or visit.
The Council recently completed Stage one of the City Centre Renewal, a $16 million project that is transforming the heart of our city to make it a more accessible and inviting space.
The second stage of the renewal will take place over much of 2018. The work is at times disruptive so our renewal program includes a Business Support Package to ensure that people know that our traders remain open and accessible all through the construction.
Projects on the go
Council priorities include the redevelopment of our major sports ground, Reid Oval. This project will see our city – which has high levels of sports participation – home to a premier sports facility that meets AFL and top level cricket standards.
We are also working with the South West Institute of TAFE to deliver a learning hub for our community. This will include a new, modern library with traditional and digital resources.
We are awaiting the outcome of a funding submission for an upgrade to our harbour that will allow people to launch boats more safely.
With our entire community we are developing a long-term plan – Warrnambool 2040. Through a comprehensive community engagement we are asking residents how they want their city to look and function in the decades to come. It’s been a fascinating process and is providing us with insight and inspiration along the way.
Council is advocating for a better connected Warrnambool. Within our city we are working towards better pedestrian and cycling connections. We are also seeking better connections to Melbourne via road and rail. The western sections of the Princes Highway require more attention and commitment from the State Government and we will be lobbying hard for better maintenance and for safety improvements to cope with growing traffic volumes.
Our rail service has been improved with an additional daily return service to Melbourne and more recently upgrades to level crossings. We now need a rail service that is faster and can compete with the speeds provided by private motor vehicles.
Into the future
Council is backing a campaign to attract capital funding for a new Special Development School and is also a key player in the “Beyond the Bell” education attainment project to encourage more students to stay in education for longer.
We see enormous potential to build on the enormous agricultural output of the region. The Great South Coast is one of Australia’s most productive farming zones. The value of farm-gate output is more than $2 billion and this figure is rising.
Challenges are ahead in the form of rate capping, imposed by the Victorian Government. This is likely to impact on our ability to undertake major infrastructure works and new projects but we are confident we can continue to ensure our city remains attractive and highly liveable for residents and visitors.
As a lifelong Warrnambool resident I am motivated to ensure our city continues to be a vibrant and inviting destination in the decades to come.