Councillor profiles - This month from Western Australia

Article image - Councillor profiles - This month from Western Australia John Carey, Mayor City of Vincent, Western Australia Community involvement
I have been on the City of Vincent Council for three years; the first two as a councillor and the third in my current position as Mayor of Vincent. 

I love the role; being a champion for change and making things happen in the community. 

I am a very ‘hands on’ Mayor, I believe that councils should not be simply lead by an administration, but should set strong policies and direction, which genuinely reflects the aspirations of the community.

As Mayor, I really believe you should seek to be inspirational for your local community, to show leadership that aspires to be better, and consistently seeks to improve what you do as an organization, and that this is realized with real outcomes on the ground.

I did not make the jump straight into Local Government. 

Instead, I got heavily involved and active in my local community around the Beaufort Street town centre. 

I founded the Beaufort Street Network; a business and resident organization that was aimed at making the area a better place to live, work and play.

This organization has helped to transform Beaufort Street into a more pedestrian friendly, green and people focused town centre. 

As part of the network, I also kicked off and chaired the Beaufort Street Festival for the first four years, which has now grown into a one-day street festival of 120,000 people.

It was through this community involvement, I came to appreciate that these kinds of projects could achieve even greater things with a local government that is behind them, who helps to grow and facilitate them. 

I saw the real potential in local government to make things happen at a local level.

Growing and challenges
The City of Vincent is a dynamic, vibrant inner city community defined by its bustling urban villages. 

Vincent, adjoining the City of Perth, encompasses the popular inner city café and retail strips of Beaufort Street, William Street, Leederville, North Perth and Mt Hawthorn, with a population of 32,000 residents and growing, due to high-density developments along its major transport corridors. 

We have a large number of young families with children, with a baby boom underway.

There is no doubt that the forced council merger process occurring in Western Australia is a massive challenge. 

We are a dynamic, small council, which I genuinely believe is punching above its weight in terms of policy, direction and innovation. 

Yet the primary focus of reform is larger councils. 

It is an enormous drain on council resources to tackle an uncertain reform process while also working hard to deliver on major projects for the community.
Larger councils do not guarantee innovation and better councils, but they can ensure larger bureaucracies. 

I genuinely believe that council leadership and the culture of the administration is a critical factor in whether you achieve best local government for your community and stakeholders.

Bike friendly councils
A key project for our community is Vincent’s Bike Network Plan, which will see an outlay of an unprecedented $2.5 million over 18 months, delivering 10km of cycling paths and infrastructure. 

This will make our council one of Australia’s most bike-friendly councils, based on expenditure per resident. 

The Plan aims to deliver short–term outcomes and coordinate efforts to create safer and smarter routes around Vincent for cyclists, and improve access between our urban villages to encourage economic growth and activity.

We have a real sense of urgency to deliver lasting capital works and infrastructure for the community, in this current climate of local government reform. 

We hope that our legacy is that we have genuinely improved our community as a place to live, through the renewal of town centres, our streets and our parks.

We want our residents to look around in their community and see real and practical improvements.