Councillor profiles - Mayor Pam Palmer Lane Cove Council
Lane Cove is located on the beautiful shorelines of Sydney Harbour and the Lane Cove River, just 9km from Sydney’s central business district. We are home to around 40,000 people, the occasional swamp wallaby, echidnas, green tree frogs, endangered powerful owls, as well as our own unique fungi species Hygrocybe lanecovensis!
I have been a Lane Cove Councillor since 2008.
I came to the role through my work on various community committees and a friend who was a councillor suggested I consider the option. That encouragement from a sitting councillor is why I do ask others, particularly women, in the community to consider standing for election. I find women often need some encouragement, and that is why I recently organised a special Australian Local Government Women’s Association (ALGWA) women’s forum in Lane Cove for potential candidates for election. In general, I believe a diverse range of backgrounds can bring some valuable and unique contributions to Council’s decision-making from which the whole community benefits.
Those grass-roots connections I made before becoming a ouncillor have been so important to me. It helps me to assess what’s important to my community’s future. That said, I have also been able to rely on my corporate background in finance. And have to admit that at times it also helps to have those interpersonal skills and understanding that come with my degree in Psychology!
There are many challenges facing all councils at the moment, especially in terms of funding. I recognise that the whole team – both staff and councillors – need to focus on innovative ways to deliver infrastructure to support our communities.
To address this, Lane Cove has relied upon a 10-year plan which looked at converting some underperforming assets into new facilities alongside a commitment to no net loss of open space. Importantly, the plan had to be self-funding and consider the potential for future income streams. The 10-year plan was positively received by our community.
Our first project was a run-down neighbourhood community centre in a medium-to-high-density residential area. It was rebuilt to provide a new community meeting place incorporating modern facilities and a much-needed long day care centre. The scheme included six apartments above to fund the project while a lease on the long day care centre provided ongoing income to Council. As a bonus, Council even had some funds left over to update the adjacent park.
The final scheme in our 10-year plan was recently completed. This was an $80 million project to convert an at-grade carpark to 500 underground car spaces, incorporate two supermarkets below ground and a new eat-street at ground level. The rest of ground level, over the carpark and supermarkets, is now a new playground plus a large grassed area with outdoor stage. Once again, we have achieved many benefits for the community, both residents and businesses, with a renewed heart to our shopping centre and a reliable rental income stream for Council.
Consider the environment
All our developments consider the best environmental outcomes possible. This latest project, for example, includes solar power generation, innovative handling of waste streams, free EV charging stations, and incorporates a showcase of the latest technology in flat and flexible solar panels on the site, as developed by University of Newcastle.
As to the future, Council has committed to 80 percent reduction in emissions and no net increase in water use by 2036. Our biggest challenge is the interim targets we have set for a 20 percent reduction in emissions and no net increase in water usage by 2024, on a community-wide basis. This will guide our future direction in all we do and will be a rewarding challenge for the community and councillors in the next term.