Councillor Alex Coates, City of Salisbury, SA
Q. How long have you been on Council?
I have been an Elected Member with the City of Salisbury for two and a half years. I was elected in 2006 at my second tilt for Council. I currently chair the Works and Services Standing Committee and the Sport and Recreation Sub Committee.
Q. What interests you about Local Government?
I became involved in Local Government to represent and work with the community. I was already a volunteer with St John Ambulance Australia and saw that my community needed a strong representative to ensure that it continued to be represented at Council. I had previously been involved in the YMCA Youth Parliament program, which gave me public speaking and debating skills, as well as experience with committee work.
Q. Tell us about your Local Government area?
The City of Salisbury is a rapidly growing Local Government area north of Adelaide. The City currently has a population of 120,000 people making it the second largest city in South Australia. Salisbury is an area of contrast, from socio economically challenged suburbs, through to high end apartment living. We have a large youth population and an ever increasing aging population, which is a challenge for Council. Salisbury’s main industries are manufacturing, defence and the service industry. My ward houses the RAAF Edinburgh air base, which is a major training base for the armed forces.
Q. What makes your council area special?
Salisbury is recognised worldwide for its wetlands and water harvesting. Council made a decision more than 20 years ago to develop a series of wetlands. We now collect rainwater, clean the water through a series of wetlands and then draw the water back to the surface as required to water our reserves and school ovals, and to supply houses and business. The water is suitable for drinking but is not currently used for drinking.
Q. Your Council is currently doing much work to establish affordable housing. Can you tell us about this and why it is important?
Salisbury is again leading the way by entering into a project of affordable housing for first home buyers and for people downsizing from large properties. The project will initially see the construction of 11 properties. Council will take up to 30 per cent off the value of the house and land as an equity mortgage. This 30 per cent equity mortgage, financed by Council, is paid out when the property is sold, or the owner can pay out at any time. The initial project is open to residents of Salisbury who are first homebuyers with a household income of less than $59,000. This is very important for several reasons. It first provides affordable housing for young families who are struggling to find affordable properties, and it also provides construction jobs during the current financial downturn.
Q. What has been your greatest achievement on Council?
Council has achieved many things during my time, some of which were election promises of mine. Council has opened a highly successful youth enterprise centre that the community lobbied for for ten years, a hard waste collection service for all residents and community groups has been introduced, and we have a balanced operating budget for the first time in many years. A great achievement was the installation of an acoustic barrier between a residential and industrial part of my ward.
Q. What do you hope to accomplish in the future?
I hope to be re-elected in late 2010, and hope to become Deputy Mayor during my time on Council. For the community, I hope to accomplish the introduction of a community transport service and the upgrading of sporting clubs across Salisbury.