Plan forming

By Benalla Ensign

The future of Benalla is being shaped by a hard-working group of local people whose aim is to support and implement the Benalla Rural City Community Plan 2016-2036.

The Progressive Economy Working Group is pushing for Benalla to be known as a place that:

●fosters innovation and entrepreneurship;

●creates diverse economic opportunities for new industries; and

●supports cultural and sporting initiatives.

The group has developed collaborative relationships with the Benalla business community and individuals who are working towards this goal.

Recent projects include increasing the use of Lake Benalla, supporting festivals and events, including the Winter Yarn Bomb and the Window to Window Christmas Festival.

The group is supporting the development of a family event — The Source — to be held in March this year.

Group member Freida Andrews said the Benalla Rural City Community Plan 2016-2036 provides a guide to our community in making decisions that promote the future we seek during the next 18 years.

‘‘It outlines how the community, the council and other organisations and groups will work in partnership to achieve maximum health and wellbeing for our community,’’ Ms Andrews said.

‘‘An Implementation Steering Committee has been established, it works to support community organisations and individuals to achieve the objectives and strategic directions outlined in the plan.

‘‘The committee is made up of community representatives, Benalla Rural City councillors and support staff.

‘‘We meet quarterly to report on new developments and progress made in the community. This provide an excellent opportunity for community representatives to liaise with the councillors and staff.’’

Three working groups have been established to support the implementation of the plan and to promote the ongoing connection with the community.

Members of the working groups include representatives of the Implementation Steering Committee, council staff who provide day-to-day liaison with council, and others who have expressed an interest and seek to contribute.

This can involve becoming directly involved or simply using the working group as a forum to discuss ideas and plans for the future.

Ms Andrews said the working groups aimed to represent the community plan, and that input from people living and working in Benalla Rural City was welcome and encouraged.

‘‘The Connected Community Working Group focuses on connecting the people of Benalla Rural City to the community plan through representation and advocacy,’’ Ms Andrews said.

‘‘In addition to its own projects, this group often supports and contributes to the work being done by the other two groups.

‘‘Its role is to ensure that information is provided to the community and support is offered to those who would like to become more closely involved.’’

Recent Connected Community Working Group projects include support for the launch of the Benalla Liveability Audit, support for and involvement in the Benalla Unpacked Bus Tours and the development of the Connecting Benalla Website, which is to be launched in the near future.

Ms Andrews said one of the core values expressed by the Benalla Community in 2016, when the community plan was implemented, was the importance of Benalla’s beauty and natural environment.

‘‘The Sustainable Environment Working Group develops and supports initiatives that not only preserve what Benalla has, but ensures that our scenic landscapes and open spaces are preserved and responsibly managed by the further development of innovative practices and sustainable planning,’’ Ms Andrews said.

‘‘The group has undertaken considerable research into planning schemes and recent developments in urban Benalla.

‘‘Together with the Connected Communities Working Group it has developed submissions relating to the need for public open space and supported council initiatives that will allow for revised planning procedures.’’

●If you would like to know more about the community plan and the working groups, you can phone Freida Andrews on 0417058897 or email [email protected]