Time To Make A Difference To Our City - Candidates views

In our last newsletter we mentioned the upcoming Local Government elections on September 10th.  Fifty-three candidates are standing for Wagga Wagga City Council and we have spoken directly with twenty-six candidates so far, clearly articulating the outcomes we are seeking from a newly elected Council.
All candidates have been given the opportunity to address the following questions about their views on the Wagga Rail Trail project and we will publish the responses as they come in.

1. Council is currently preparing an Integrated Transport Strategy that will guide the delivery of city transport solutions for the next 30 years. Community feedback indicates that residents advocate strongly for a more active, connected community through the provision of high quality walking and cycling infrastructure. How will you support your Council to achieve a more connected, liveable city where people can choose an active method of transport rather than relying on motor vehicles?
2. Wagga Wagga is well known as the City of Good Sports. Residents benefit from a plethora of high quality facilities for organised sports, but lack substantive facilities for passive recreation. How will you support your Council in the provision of high use passive recreational infrastructure that better uses existing public space?
3.  Making Wagga Wagga a place that people choose to live lies at the heart of Wagga Rail Trail project. That's a place where people can enjoy a healthy, active lifestyle in a city that is vibrant, connected, safe and liveable. Do you support the Wagga Rail Trail project and how will you support your Council to work with the community to bring this project to fruition?

Greg Conkey

  1. I am looking forward to the delivery of the Integrated Transport Strategy. Wagga Wagga needs a comprehensive plan to guide the city through the next three decades. That plan must not only include improved cycle and walkways but also additional and adequate secure areas within the CBD where bicycles can be stored. The number of cyclists will continue to rise and it is paramount that the city caters for their needs. Current facilities are barely adequate and more funding will be needed to not only improve existing facilities but greatly expand those facilities. I have already provided feedback to the consultants and will continue to agitate for these facilities.
  2. One of the most popular facilities in the city is Lake Albert and its walking/cycling track. With the upgrade of the levee banks I have already flagged my support to include a three metre wide bitumen walk/cycle way along the full length of the main city levee. This has the potential to become just as popular as Lake Albert. What is also needed is a loop connecting the two ends. Additional recreational cycle/walk ways are also needed in various other parts of Wagga Wagga where people can enjoy the city’s natural beauty and features.
  3. I have always been a strong supporter of Rail Trails and believe such a trail from the CBD to Ladysmith is a “no brainer.” It has the potential to attract hundreds of users (locals and visitors) each and every week of the year. Users will not only include serious cyclists but also large numbers of family groups. Not only will I be pushing for government funding, I also believe WWCC should also make a financial contribution to the project.

Ros Pragnell

  1. As a community member, I have supported council by participating in community feedback surveys and forums advocating for alternative methods to motor transport. If I was elected to council, I would:
    • seek feedback from the community when the Integrated Transport Strategyis released, particularly for issues overlooked.
    • seek every available opportunity to ensure planning and budgeting incorporates passive and active recreational infrastructure.    
  2. If I was elected to council I would liaise with residents and users of passive recreational facilities to determine the type of infrastructure required and would present projects to council as either individual projects or as part of long-term planning strategies and budgets
  3. I support the Wagga Rail Trail project, and will do so, regardless of whether I am elected to council or not. If I was elected I would support the project by liaising and communicating with the Rail trail committee, promoting the Rail Trail where possible, assisting in fund-raising and encouraging the assistance of other community organisations, such as Wagga Urban Landcare Group.

Peter Dale

  1. As an elected Councillor on previous Councils I was an active supporter of the development of bikeways currently in use in the city and supported the line marking of roadways for dedicated bike lanes. If I am elected to Council in 2016 I will use my experience in the Council chamber to lead debate on the issue of walking and cycling infrastructure.
  2. Once again I will apply my knowledge of Council process to establish and lead debate on these issues. I see the objectives of high quality facilities for passive recreation, as well as for organized sports, meeting my platform objective of improved law and order in the City. Community engagement, especially with the youth will lead to a more involved and meaningful activity for young people and from factual examples lead to a reduction in crime in the city.
  3. It goes without saying that I support the Wagga Rail Trail Project. In a former professional role as Executive Officer for the Riverina Regional Development Board (2000-2009) I spearheaded the Riverina Highlands Rail Trails Project, including commissioning an extensive feasibility study that included the Wagga to Ladysmith section. I will use knowledge gained in this project as the forerunner to the Wagga Rail Trail project to introduce and lead debate and action in the Council chamber.

Simone Eyles

  1. Many people choose to live and work in Wagga because of the great lifestyle and work life balance. We need to look at active methods of transport because the city is getting very congested and finding a park is a problem. Walking and cycling infrastructure will ease this problem.
  2. Recreational facilities is the bread and butter of council, it will be great to learn more and engage the community in making better use of public spaces.
  3. I do support the Wagga Rail Trail however it doesn't start and stop with council, you have many stakeholders involved as well as state government. I hope with council's support and commitment long term support to assist and advocate for this project to get off the ground.

Kevin Poynter

  1. Much of the public discussion around transport needs has been hijacked by campaigns around parking in Fitzmaurice Street and a bypass for the city, while these are issues that need to be resolved as part of a holistic approach to transport, access and liveability. 
    When the Integrated Transport study is released I will support an approach that ensures that we are not locked into car focused transport. When the study was initiated, councillors were invited to meet individually with consultants to talk about the things that were important to ensure in the study. My advice was that it was important that the plan was truly integrated and that it had a strategy for reducing car traffic by providing high quality infrastructure for active transport alternatives.
    I will support a plan that puts in place high quality integrated tracks that connects our city and villages, and has the necessary associated infrastructure such as secure storage, showers and easy access points. I will work with cycling groups to ensure the are consulted in establishing maintenance priorities, and in developing a promotional partnership between them and council that encourages community to take up active alternatives
  2. I will support and drive:
    • Council/community partnerships to grow and maintain high quality passive recreation infrastructure.
    • Infrastructure that safely links residential areas with key employment areas, educational facilities, cultural facilities and environmental assets.
    • Ancillary infrastructure that supports and encourages alternative modes of transport as a viable an health option.
    • Relationships that promote the high class facilities and encourage their regular use.  
  3. Yes I support the Wagga rail trail project. It is a project that is owned by the community and the team driving it have adopted an inclusive approach to understanding and addressing concerns, and identifying and realising opportunities for a wide cross section of our community. I support a partnership approach between council and the community members who are part of this project that will develop detailed plans and budgets for the project, and open avenues to fund the project.   

Belinda Coleman

  1. As a former Personal Trainer and avid traveller I have seen firsthand the benefits of using methods of travel other than motorised vehicles. The benefits including increased physical fitness, savings on fuel and vehicle maintenance and helping the environment are all important outcomes of having a connected city where people can transport themselves in a safe and healthy way without risk of being struck by cars and breathing in toxic fumes.
    I can also give first hand evidence from my 14 years as a Forensic Detective as to the numerous cases I have personally seen where people have been struck by cars that could have been avoided. Common Sense should prevail when this comes before council and it will get my full support. As I have experience in Policy and Procedure writing/reviewing for a Quality and Compliance Team I have the skills required to understand what is involved in the application process and getting this project moving forward whilst assuring that we are meeting the required standards and legislation along the way. It is important to have people on council with these type of skills to ensure that projects like this do not come to a halt due to some minor technicality that has been overlooked. Assuming I am elected, I would welcome the opportunity to discuss this project as soon as the new council is in session.
    The Wagga Rail Trail plan closely aligns with our groups (Group F) primary focuses that are “supporting local growth”, a review of the outdated “Local Environmental Plan”, “Building the Wagga Levee Bank” which I understand will need to be planned and constructed with mindfulness to the Wagga Rail Trail. The benefits of this trail to the City of Wagga Wagga are immense and will have a wonderful impact on the community in terms of physical and financial wellbeing.
  2. I would be one of the users of a recreational infrastructure myself, along with my family. We are always looking for somewhere to go with decent pathways for rollerskating and infant biking but currently find it incredibly difficult around this city to find safe areas both in terms of transport and quality of the surface.
    I would be requesting that council help in many ways including the Development Application process, through the building stage and keeping communication open through various user groups that would have an interest in the project.
    Getting the Wagga Levee bank moving forward is a key factor and planning for good quality surfaces in this area for pedestrians and cyclists is something that I can address with the council to ensure it aligns with the Rail project.
    Getting the old railway property converted to Government land is a key factor in starting this project. This is where I, as a Councillor could help to lead key talks with local Parliament about the merits of the project and help to push this through as a matter of priority. I have been a member of the Wagga Community as both an employee and as a business owner in both State and Local Government and also my own businesses and have developed many relationships along the way with people whom could help this project come into fruition.
  3. I have travelled throughout Australia and many places in the world where I have seen many ideas such as rail/walking trails outside of the general traffic that have been fantastic places for both commuters and I can impart my knowledge of other trails from my travels on council and give informed views and information as to the importance of the project. I would be seeking Council support in various ways. This includes, Development Planning, Financial Support, possibly support of Plant and Equipment.
    I most definitely support the Wagga Rail Trail project and have become a member and have already shown my support through sharing your Facebook page with my friends, asking them to join.

Tim Koschel

  1. I would support council by reading and studying all reports that they have completed on integrated transport strategy. I would also take time to consult community by myself and discuss what's options they would like and how they would like it delivered. Finally I would look at other cities and see what they have developed and how it's currently working.
  2. Similar to first answer, I would support council by looking at all research that has been conducted. I believe in the benefit of health and fitness, and sharing the advantages of having passive recreational infrastructure in current public spaces speaks for it self. Engaging the community and letting the voice of the community be heard is what your role as a councillor is.
  3. I do support the Wagga rail trail project, I believe this is a great project that engages all areas of the community. I have a young family and this project is a great idea for getting our youth active. I am also a cyclist and believe this will offer a safe alternative. I would support council by sharing the communities needs and opinions gathered through different sources like the Next Generation Wagga Wagga's Facebook page.

Tina Gavel

  1. Whilst working in Regional Tourism, one of the main issues visitors to the area had was lack of transport. we need feasible movable corridors throughout Wagga Wagga and surrounding areas. One of the regular questions I was asked was, What bike tracks do you have? The Riverina has emerged as the fattest region in NSW and that can be changed with community engagement and being proactive with programs to encourage people to get up and get moving. I would lobby for more funding and mentor programs for activities and events that would be focused on an all encompassed healthier lifestyle . I would work to increase funding and support for local groups. If you talk the talk you have to be prepared to walk the walk. I would be out there involved in healthier lifestyle options so that as a Councillor for our community I would be seen to be setting a good example and be involved with the programs that I was lobbying for and strongly believed in.
  2. LOBBY LOBBY LOBBY. I would be out talking to people and collecting stats and research with data to back up any motions that I put forward to council in regards to proposed recreational infrastucture. I would be searching for any grants that were available that we could be possibly missing out on and if so, would be putting forward a motion to apply. I will support my council by supporting and listening to what the citizens of Wagga Wagga want. I will be actively engaged as a Councillor and work tirelessly to promote future proposals for better health and a more movable lifestyle within our community.
  3. Yes I strongly support the Wagga Rail Trail project. Its potential asset to Wagga Wagga and surrounds is monumental. Whilst meeting with Lisa and hearing her passion and the way the project was presented in her brief, It was obvious that a vast amount of knowledge, time and research has gone into making this a fruition. I would definitely be pushing for a mentor program. I would work with council on providing any data that will endorse the project. As a Councillor its my obligation to vote on what the community wants and so that they would be well informed I would put forth a motion for health professionals and community groups to come together and discuss and view the vast array of benefits that The Wagga Rail Trail could have not only for our own community and surrounding districts but to be up in the top order of similar trails throughout the world in this venture. Wagga Wagga is also sister city to Kumning in China. Australia is one of the top tourist destinations for China residents, especially for honeymooners. China is also a country that loves their bikes. I would put forth that Wagga Wagga Council work strongly with both Regional Tourism and our local Business Chamber to capitalize on this wonderful proposed venture and to grow our city and bring forth an enormous tourism influx that has the potential to bring forth major dollars that will be poured back into our community! Sustainability is key to our future and community can be shown just what this venture could bring to Wagga Wagga if they are actively informed and engaged.
Cristy Houghton