Meet the candidates: Yarra City Council
15.10.2020

Meet the candidates: Yarra City Council

Brunswick Street, Fitzroy - Photo by Marcus Bichel Lindegaard via Wikimedia Commons
By Kate Streader

Introducing the candidates for Yarra City Council and their priorities for the community.

Yarra City Council encompasses Abbotsford, Alphington, Burnley, Carlton North, Clifton Hill, Collingwood, Cremorne, Fairfield, Fitzroy, Fitzroy North, Princes Hil and Richmond. City of Yarra is broken up into three wards, each with three councillors.

Visit the Victorian Electoral Commission website to see a map of ward boundaries.

Its current councillors are Stephen Jolly, Amanda Stone and Danae Bosler – Langridge; Mi-lin Chen Yi Mei (Deputy Mayor), Daniel Nguyen and James Searle – Melba Ward; and Misha Coleman (Mayor), Jackie Fristacky and Brigid O’Brien – Nicholls Ward.

Meet the 2020 candidates for Yarra City Council below.

Langridge Ward

Three vacancies, 11 candidates.

Jeremy Cowen – Reason Party

What is your strategy for rebuilding your local community and supporting its small businesses post-lockdown?

My strategy for rebuilding Yarra is to take advantage of the opportunities, rather than the obstacles, that COVID-19 presents, particularly in our public spaces. Centre of this strategy would be repurposing public land to better serve our community. This could include outdoor dining in converted parking areas, hawker night-markets and food-truck festivals in sparsely used areas or more ‘pocket parks’ with improved public amenity.

The secondary prong to this rebuilding strategy would be increased small business support, such as extending small-business grants and rate-waivers for the businesses that have hurt the most (i.e. nightclubs, bars, theatres). Beyond just monetary support would be creating shopping precinct business groups. These would be separate committees, specifically for each major retail precinct, such as Brunswick St, Victoria St or Bridge Rd. Each of these committees would have small business representatives that would collaborate directly with council in the areas of advertisement, infrastructure upgrades, finance and advocacy. These would be supported by specific development plans that the council would produce that would set a vision and actionable steps for each retail precinct.

How do you plan to support live music venues in reopening and getting back on their feet post-lockdown?

Live music venues are fundamental to Yarra’s vibe and have hurt the most during lockdown. I would advocate for extending small business grants and rate-waivers for the venues that have hurt the most.

Akin to Midsumma or the Melbourne Film Festival, I would love to see a Yarra-wide, annual, live music and theatre festival. This would ensure that support would be felt at all our live-music venues. As lockdown restrictions ease, I would hope to also work collaboratively with these venues to explore any outdoor-seating options that they could incorporate into their venues with support from council.

How important are the arts and live music sectors to you as a prospective councillor and how do you aim to support them? 

I personally grew up in a very primitive suburban area, so as a gay man moving to Fitzroy, I felt the embrace of so many of these wonderful venues. For many people, including myself, these spaces are sacred.

In addition to the aforementioned policies in response to question two, I would strongly advocate for an audit of publicly-owned land and buildings in Yarra. The goal of this would be two-fold. Firstly, to ensure that Yarra uses its assets as efficiently as possible, and secondly, to invite creatives and artists to utilise under-used council spaces for their work.

What are your priorities in terms of what you want to achieve for your community as a councillor? 

My priorities are simple, to truly represent the concerns of our community.

For too long, Yarra has been choked by partisan and ideological fighting. We all want to see a council that will collaborate and work effectively to get work done and this, I believe, has been missing in recent years. Now, more than ever, we need a council willing to commit to widespread change and improvements in our city if we are to survive the dire effects of COVID-19. I’m also committed to engaging with younger constituents, in addition to including more diverse voices in guiding our council’s decision making. I want to see a major rejuvenation of our high-streets, a strong waste management policy, greening of our city and an equitable community for all.

How important is climate action to you and how do you plan to implement it within your council?

Climate action is paramount. I am 19 years old and I have seen what happens when we place too much trust in our country’s leaders to act on climate change. Due to the inept response, it will inevitably fall to my generation, and the generations to after me, to deal with the repercussions of climate change denialism. Yarra needs to go beyond their commitment to carbon neutrality and invest in carbon negative projects. Expanded waste-management policies, including a pragmatic roll-out of more recycling options. Investment in ‘pocket parks’ and more street tree planting will help improve both our climate and public amenity.

Anab Mohamud – The Greens

What is your strategy for rebuilding your local community and supporting its small businesses post-lockdown?

I think our local businesses need a safe way to do outdoor dining and am in support of that, but also having a conversation with small business owners on how to best support them would even be a better way to find out how we can help them. And encouraging locals to support the business around our area instead of buying from other places.

How do you plan to support live music venues in reopening and getting back on their feet post-lockdown?

I think if anything made Fitzroy [it’s] that the streets were always alive, especially on nice, sunny, perfect days. For me, I think we should have a street festival to open all the venues so people would be able to get back on track. I miss that myself and I feel like music venues suffered a lot of loss during this pandemic. I was sad to see Copacabana being sold. We want our streets to be live again.

How important are the arts and live music sectors to you as a prospective councillor and how do you aim to support them?

We need to do everything we can to support [these sectors]. They are what makes Yarra unique.

What are your priorities in terms of what you want to achieve for your community as a councillor?

I want to inspire our communities by showing what can be achieved with a lot of hard work and love for what one does. Also understanding what the [community] needs and wants. I truly look forward to learning more about the community and better understanding how best I can serve them.

How important is climate action to you and how do you plan to implement it within your council?

Climate change is very important to me I plan to bring about change by thinking globally and acting locally. For example, I have inspired my family and friends to recycle and to be conscious of how they use energy and that global warming is real. I will bring the same enthusiasm and action into the council if I’m elected.

Gabrielle de Vietri – The Greens

What is your strategy for rebuilding your local community and supporting its small businesses post-lockdown?

With local traders along strips like Gertrude, Smith and Brunswick Streets struggling to stay afloat and thousands of people’s jobs hanging in the balance, the Greens candidates for Yarra will roll up their sleeves to help save our high streets. We want to see our streets turned into vibrant pedestrian hubs, with creative interventions, support for localised street festivals and celebrations, activated shop fronts and more shade from trees.

We will work hard to revitalise our high streets, which includes supporting increased outdoor dining, better biking infrastructure – including pop-up lanes and more bike racks – converting street space to green open space, and measures to activate vacant shop fronts. Artists must be part of this recovery – occupying vacant shop fronts, activating our streetscapes with temporary and permanent interventions.

I support fast-tracking the council permit process, waiving fees for new footpath trading and continuing “hardship” options for businesses that are struggling with rates at this time.

The Yarra Greens transport, COVID recovery, energy and environment policies can be found here: https://greens.org.au/vic/lga/yarra.

How do you plan to support live music venues in reopening and getting back on their feet post-lockdown?

We have so many fantastic venues in Yarra that have been a formative part of my life in Melbourne – the Tote, the Grace Darling, Corner Hotel, the Evelyn, Bar Open, Yah Yahs, to name a few! I recognise the incredible pressure musicians, venues, artists and arts organisations have been under through COVID, and that the arts were suffering even before the pandemic.

I will advocate for state and council recovery funding to be channelled into reviving the arts and live music scene in Yarra so that these places can survive and thrive. I will ensure that I use my capacity as a Councillor to protect live music venues if a site is proposed for redevelopment, through existing and reinforced planning scheme provisions. I commit to working with the state government to support a vibrant and viable local live music scene in Yarra through the removal of barriers which affect a venues’ ability to host live music. There are so many unnecessary barriers to hosting live events, and the council must be doing everything it can to keep live music in Yarra.

When I co-managed an artist studio space in Collingwood, we wanted to host small gatherings for sit-down acoustic music presentations. One such event was promoted online, and before it happened we got a letter from the council saying it wasn’t allowed. To get a permit, we needed a traffic management plan, which would cost more than any small arts organisation has, and would never be approved because there was no parking. Some of these barriers to holding music gigs need to be closely examined and removed, as they will choke the sector.

How important are the arts and live music sectors to you as a prospective councillor and how do you aim to support them?

I have been a visual artist for the last 15 years, and have worked in spaces across Yarra and beyond – in Yarra Sculpture Gallery, The Foundry, Conical, Gertrude Contemporary, Seventh, Schoolhouse Studios, Cromwell Studios. The saddest thing about that list is the majority of those spaces don’t exist in Yarra anymore. Artists are feeling the squeeze in Yarra and the council needs to do everything it can to ensure that Yarra remains a vibrant place for diverse artists to develop and show work, and for audiences to encounter art and live music.

Being an artist, it was exciting to be on the other side of the fence, helping to write Yarra’s Arts and Culture Policy, which is available here: https://greens.org.au/vic/lga/yarra.

Two really exciting aspects of the policy are our commitment to support the repurposing and restoring of Council properties for use by the creative industries; and to push to increase the number and size of creative grants available in recognition of the influx of artists and arts organisations in Yarra, the increasing costs of developing and producing work, and the need to support larger-scale projects to support Yarra’s developing reputation as a creative city.

On top of that, I commit to advocate for the crucial role of artists and small to medium arts organisations in the Australian arts landscape. I will speak out against federal and state funding cuts to the small-to-medium sector in particular. And finally, I will work with the state and federal government to ensure that exciting, new and challenging work is developed and presented in the City of Yarra.

What are your priorities in terms of what you want to achieve for your community as a councillor?
Apart from art-related priorities, here are my three big priorities:
  1. A priority is to make Yarra a place where everyone can walk, ride or wheel to where they need to go, with safe and accessible pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, and an expanded urban forest. Yarra must develop a bold and future-proof Integrated Transport Plan, and actively preempt the increase in private transport uptake when COVID restrictions ease. I support an integrated network of best-practice protected bike lanes, 20-minute neighbourhoods, 30km zones, traffic filtering and calming mechanisms, the allocation of street space for pocket parks and increased bike parking. I will strongly advocate to the State Government to commit to building a fit-for-purpose bridge at Walmer Street, and to complete the Gipps St ramp project.
  2. I will support our local communities to build back better during and after the pandemic. That includes supporting our local business communities by revitalising our high streets with creative celebrations, outdoor dining, wider footpaths and accessible public transport. It includes advocating for our public housing communities so that they can access the services they need, are protected by a Charter of Rights and their issues addressed by a dedicated Public Housing Ombudsman. It also includes support for our creative communities, with more and better funding for artists and arts organisations, the activation of our local streets with festivals and cultural events, and investment in large scale creative projects to draw visitors and stimulate our communities.
  3. I will work hard to create a climate-safe future through a quick and fair transition to renewable energy, fossil-free transport and a circular economy. Climate emergency planning touches all areas of local government’s operations, and will be considered in every decision I make.
How important is climate action to you and how do you plan to implement it within your council?
Climate emergency planning touches all areas of local government’s operations and will be considered in every decision I make. I commit to diligently implementing ambitious actions to mitigate climate change and build resilience.
Thanks to Greens on Council, Yarra has declared a climate emergency, but the actions under the first year of the plan have been deferred due to COVID expenses. Greens on Council will ensure that having declared an emergency, the Council continue to treat it as such. I will ensure that climate action is adequately addressed at the first budget review, and that its considerations are incorporated into planning decisions and reform, in decisions around transport and placemaking, in advancing the waste revolution, and in creating more open spaces and tree canopy. Mitigating and building resilience to climate change must go hand in hand with our recovery from COVID.

We reached out to Michael Glynatsis, Rowan Payne, Stephen Jolly, Hai Tran, James Bae, Karen Douglas, Peter Hude, and Matoc Mordecai Achol for comment but did not receive a response to these questions in time for publication. They will also be running for council in the Langridge Ward.

Melba Ward

Three vacancies, 15 candidates.

Meca Ho – Independent

What is your strategy for rebuilding your local community and supporting its small businesses post-lockdown?

Ensure proper consultation with the community (see answer to question four). Work with community, fellow councillors (if elected) and Council staff on long-term planning. Discuss and implement programs to assist and encourage residents, businesses and visitors/shoppers. This could include free parking in areas (see question four) and implementing ideas put forward by community members, such as Gertrude Street traders who are putting forward ideas for on-street dining.

How do you plan to support live music venues in reopening and getting back on their feet post-lockdown?

Look at how Council can support innovative ideas from the community and these venues – if we have smaller crowd sizes, can we assist with technology provision to have additional digital attendees? Further, Council can look at issues such as rates, and potentially making use of any vacant Council properties

How important are the arts and live music sectors to you as a prospective councillor and how do you aim to support them?

I believe the arts and live music sectors are very important in Yarra City, and form a part of our area’s identity. These sectors have obviously been hit hard by COVID and council has a role to play in supporting its recovery. If elected, I would seek to consult and listen to people in the sector, and welcome their ideas. Potential to look at ideas like encouraging artists, musicians, etc. to utilise new open space and pedestrianised streets in the area.

What are your priorities in terms of what you want to achieve for your community as a councillor?

Community consultation has emerged as the most important issue in Melba Ward this election. Members of the community have felt distressed and angry at being ignored over issues such as the Medically Supervised Injecting Room and bicycle lane trials. My priority would be to ensure Council increases consultation with the community. Especially for locals of non-English speaking backgrounds and with lack of access to the internet.

I would also like to prioritise renewal for our community due to COVID and the economic downturn that was present before COVID. Some ideas include one-hour free parking on major shopping strips like Bridge Road, Swan Street and Victoria Street, and access to mental health services and resources for residents and traders.

How important is climate action to you and how do you plan to implement it within your council?

Climate action has been very important to Yarra City Council, its residents and myself. If elected, I would support the continuing and furthering of Yarra City programs that support climate action. Again, I think a really powerful method is to deeply consult with and listen to the community and utilise their ideas to tweak and add to council’s programs.

Don Ash – Independent

What is your strategy for rebuilding your local community and supporting its small businesses post-lockdown?

I have been vocal in arguing a case for hawkers markets; food festivals; street dining; a Sunday Gleadell Steer arts and crafts fair to mirror the Saturday farmers market. What I am most passionate about is bringing some of the Midsumma Festival and Melbourne Interntaional Comedy Festival shows onto Bridge, Swan and Victoria Streets. Why should the City of Melbourne benefit when we have potentially great venues locally?

How do you plan to support live music venues in reopening and getting back on their feet post-lockdown?

“I am open to ideas” is, on one level, a dodge but that said, there will be people far better able to answer this than myself and I am offering to give voice to their ideas. I will say this, I don’t think ‘normal’ will be a reality until well into 2021 and the illusion that ‘let’s just get this year over so we can get back to normal’ is one that worries me. I fear that we are not psychologically prepared for another year of ‘not normal’. In that environment, I think music can and should play a role in boosting community spirit and I am of a mind that open-air concerts should be considered – promoted by local venues and musicians and as revenue earners for them.

We have, in my neck of the woods, the annual Dogapalooza festival and parts of Burnley Park are cordoned off and people can pay for entry. I think the park can and should be used as a venue for outdoor music to bring hope and healing to the industry and the locals. But hey, I am open to ideas from those more in the know.

How important are the arts and live music sectors to you as a prospective councillor and how do you aim to support them?

I am passionate about the arts and, in a normal time, my partner and I would on an annual basis see at least six to eight plays (Malthouse and/or MTC); a couple of Midsumma Festival Shows and at least eight Melbourne International Comedy Festival Shows. In addition, we go and see pretty much all the major concerts.  I have often thought it would be great to see the Spiegel Tent come to our city and, of course, to a location ideally in Melba. I would fight for grants and funding and for every opportunity to be made to make the city and Melba a home of arts and live performance. We have infrastructure to support this, I believe.

What are your priorities in terms of what you want to achieve for your community as a councillor?

I will defer here to a question posted on the Yarra Residents Collective FB page as to what three priorities each candidate would have as well as what three things they’d like to leave as a legacy. This was my answer:

I am passionate about four things:

  1. An holistic approach to community health i.e. ensuring mental, physical and commercial health for the community and especially the young and elderly and the retailers and traders.
  2. Open Spaces and here preserving and protecting what we have (albeit this is proving to be controversial in Burnley Park) and expanding where possible.
  3. Planned development and creating an even playing field in the contest between developers and residents impacted by developments.
  4. Equity and justice through engagement and addressing the needs and concerns of the vulnerable and disadvantaged in our community.

The legacy I would like to leave:

  • Don was a role model of someone who took the job of listening to the community and being accessible to them seriously.
  • He made good trouble on behalf of the residents.
  • He actually managed to reform some Council protocols, practices and systems that worked against fair process in engagement with the community.
  • A fourth legacy I’d like to leave, of course you will gather, is: “He was the guy who brought festivals to Melba”.

How important is climate action to you and how do you plan to implement it within your council?

Absolutely critical. COVID is but a small pre-cursor to what an actual climate crisis would look like. Indeed listening to an interview with the legendary Dr Jane Goodall yesterday, I was delighted to hear her point out that we have brought COVID upon ourselves through our lack of care and concern for the environment. And I will say that I support the Council’s Climate Emergency Plan and that I think the Council has been proactive and a leader on this issue. I am not going to support anything to detract or take away from what they already have planned and will support every effort to maintain a leading position on the climate crisis we are facing. I am not running because I think that the current Council Plan is a bad one; I am running because I think the last Councillors were not nearly as active in giving voice to the community as I think a Councillor should be.

Edward Crossland – The Greens

What is your strategy for rebuilding your local community and supporting its small businesses post-lockdown? 

Like many councils, Yarra has already established a COVID grant program, which has been an excellent start. Due to demand, I would support greater allocation of funds and expansion of the program.

One of the few silver linings of the pandemic is that more people are walking and cycling locally. It’s important that council recognises and capitalises on this opportunity, and implements a range of walking, cycling, and trading initiatives so people can socially distance during the pandemic, and as part of longer-term public realm initiatives.

Our cafés, bars and pubs on the likes of Bridge and Swan Streets are part of what makes Yarra such a great place to call home. We need to support robust local economies and help them to keep trading safely.

The Yarra Greens have a plan to increase outdoor dining, encourage creative pop-ups and create vibrant pedestrian hubs across Yarra.

How do you plan to support live music venues in reopening and getting back on their feet post-lockdown? 

Great question. This will require some out of the box thinking, and will be a collaborative effort with community, venues, stakeholders and Council. In turn, this could help kickstart the Greens plan to explore and support opportunities for a broader range of street festivals and cultural events. Check out our Arts & Culture Policy here and our Sustainable Business Policy here.

How important are the arts and live music sectors to you as a prospective councillor and how do you aim to support them? 

I have a keen interest in the creative industries, having studied film, having worked at Melbourne Fringe Festival, and Melbourne International Film Festival. A proud troupe member of Collingwood dance phenomenon Body Electric, many of my friends work in and or have businesses in the creative industries.

I’ve seen first hand the impact of the pandemic on my friends in creative industries, and personally experienced it with the Body Electric dance studio being closed, with classes transitioned to online. In what has been a trying time for all of us, Body Electric dancers continued to work towards our end of semester performance – near 200 dancers across 10 dance troupes practiced and performed on their own, to Dancing On My Own (DOMO) by Robyn, on what is the 10 year anniversary of the release of the track. This was an amazing experience, and shows the resilience of those that work within the creative industries to think outside the box.

As a councillor, I will work closely with businesses, artists and key bodies to establish how council can best provide support, advocate, and demonstrate leadership in this area.

What are your priorities in terms of what you want to achieve for your community as a councillor? 

As a town planning, transport and urban design professional, I’m passionate about creating better places for people. Yarra faces a range of challenges and opportunities, and I’m keen to work with our communities to meet our current and future needs, and to proactively plan for the future. I want to help improve town planning processes and outcomes, address housing affordability, and support our local businesses. In light of the pandemic, climate emergency, and financial constraint, now is a really important time to reflect and look at how we can do things differently; to keep Yarra cool, creative, weird and wonderful.

How important is climate action to you and how do you plan to implement it within your council? 

Emphasised by the pandemic, the need for Council to appropriately respond to climate change is clear; to build resilience into our urban, social, and economic future. Climate emergency planning will be considered in every decision I make, as it touches all areas of local government operations.

I will advocate that the delivery of Council’s Climate Emergency Plan be prioritised for budget allocations over non-urgent matters, and where possible, that measures established in response to the pandemic also address the climate emergency.

Kate Drake – Liberal

What is your strategy for rebuilding your local community and supporting its small businesses postlockdown?

Open up and resume normal trading with social distancing and appropriate measures for tracking, such as apps (The Swan Hotel had a good one). In reality, we have to wait for the state government directive, but if it requires council permits to extend footpath trading then the fees should be waivered. If appropriate for the residents and traders nearby, the use of streets and parks to be considered.

How do you plan to support live music venues in reopening and getting back on their feet postlockdown?

Sadly, again it is a “wait and see” game, but blitz on advertising into Yarra, ask Melbourne City Council to consider expanding their festivals, comedy, film, etc. into Yarra. Also ask the traders, because they are the experts, what they think want and let’s see how we can do it.

How important are the arts and live music sectors to you as a prospective councillor and how do you aim to support them?

Huge! I grew up in pubs, including in Richmond, and loved the live music and entertainment. I asked if we could have an ’80s night at the Corner, like it was back then, but they wouldn’t allow that many patrons, indoor smoking and thought the $2 cover charge was too low! Back in the ’70s there was a program called FEIP – Free Entertainment in the Park – which I believe grew out of the Moomba Festival and worked in conjunction with Life Be In It. We used to go almost every Sunday, usually to the Fitzroy Gardens, in the warmer months (that’s when the pubs were closed on Sundays), and mum and dad would sit and listen to the music or wander around the art displays, while us kids would do crafty things like tie-dying, pottery, macramé and the like. I would love to bring that to Melba. We have the space just need the vision.

What are your priorities in terms of what you want to achieve for your community as a councillor?

Transparency in decision making. Councillors are the representatives of the residents not the council. We need to listen to our residents, and if that means changing the way it has been done, by engaging the different communities, including disabled, multicultural, arts and business, then so be it. Parking – two hours free on the high streets so that the side streets aren’t clogged up for residents. Review development – I worry that there is scant regard for the character of Melba. Waste management – it is so important, and a review needs to be done, because giving us an extra bin but reducing the collections doesn’t made sense. More public bins also. Do you know at Golden Square Park, a rather sizeable expanse there are only two rubbish bins and two recycle bins. Yes, we could ask the visitors to take their rubbish home, and I would, but with the reduction in collections their bins may be full already.

How important is climate action to you and how do you plan to implement it within your council?

I care, but I think the message could be amended to perhaps calling it ‘climate consideration’. Rather than the smug motherhood statements we have grown to ignore from the Greens, perhaps instead a gentle education programme of “Hey, did you know that planting a native tree/shrub in your yard helps to attract native wildlife to our area, you should have seen the wattle birds and rosellas I had visit yesterday”. Starting small and allowing people to reflect on the little things they can do helps to generate acceptance. Some of the messages out there are so overwhelming that people think that the problem is too big for “me”. I’d like to bring people to the table, not just the obvious eco warriors, but, as an example, the bridge ladies or the men’s sheds. Within the local Liberal party we have a group aimed at just this very issue, and we are adapting the Climate message to members. For example, a recent discussion was about new buildings (including home extensions) fitted with vertical solar panels, and another about how to recycle squishy plastics. Making the message relatable.

David Horseman – Independent

What is your strategy for rebuilding your local community and supporting its small businesses post-lockdown?

The waiver of related council fees, removal of unnecessary bureaucracy, direct investment in financial grants, ‘Yarra Dollars’ scheme like that currently proposed by City of Melbourne, reallocation of public space to support outdoor dining, point-of-difference marketing strategy and assistance, and street-based festivals/events to draw people into the area.

How do you plan to support live music venues in reopening and getting back on their feet post-lockdown?

The waiver of related Council fees, removal of unnecessary bureaucracy, direct investment in financial grants, ‘Yarra Dollars’ scheme extended to live music venues, festivals/events coordinated across venue types (e.g. dining, live music, creative arts) and marketing strategy, assistance and promotion.

How important are the arts and live music sectors to you as a prospective councillor and how do you aim to support them?

The arts and live music sectors are a vital and much-loved part of life in Yarra. They must be supported to re-emerge and thrive via the removal of unnecessary bureaucracy, direct investment in financial grants, waiver of related council fees, provision of performance space when necessary and festivals/events that promote local artists and draw people to the area.

What are your priorities in terms of what you want to achieve for your community as a councillor?

We are not getting the strong, independent, local representation we deserve, and I want to fix that. I will fight inappropriate and bad development. Richmond is a community, not a vacant lot to be exploited by developers. I will deliver the services our growing population needs.  More parks, community facilities and clean, well-maintained neighbourhood streets. I will provide direct support to our local businesses and invest in the revitalisation of our high streets.

I will promote investment in projects focused on Yarra achieving zero net carbon emissions, including a transition to 100 per cent renewable energy, electric vehicles, street trees, green spaces, active transport infrastructure and zero-carbon standards for new developments. I will support Richmond housing estate residents to have a strong, representative tenants’ association. With a background in asset management, financial sustainability, community development and disaster response, I have first-hand experience of the importance of local government to the community it serves and the skills to back it up.

How important is climate action to you and how do you plan to implement it within your council?

Very important.  Yarra City Council already has an adopted Climate Emergency Plan, but this must then be followed through with annual prioritised investment in delivering the projects and initiatives contained in the plan.

Matthew Ford – Independent

What is your strategy for rebuilding your local community and supporting its small businesses post-lockdown?

The strategy for rebuilding and revitalising our area is actually quite straight forward: Get council out of the way, and let businesses do what they do best. The simplest way to achieve this would be a long term rate freeze/reduction for commercial properties/tenants and to slash red and green tape (including onerous permit costs and approvals) that prevents businesses from servicing their customers the way they’d like to. The current climate has provided plenty in the way of challenges for local businesses, but our recovery will also provide many opportunities. Businesses in Yarra must be given the freedom to pursue these opportunities and make the most of them.

Furthermore, my proposal to reduce rates for residents will free up disposable income for people to spend locally. It is pointless for Council to hoover up money from residents and businesses, only to then promise to redistribute that same money via questionable and ineffective grant programs. This is not the time for unnecessary bureaucracy and central planning from Council, this is the time to unleash our local businesses so they can get back on track.

How do you plan to support live music venues in reopening and getting back on their feet post-lockdown?

I am proposing a wide ranging approach to rejuvenating the area, rather than focusing on separate industries. The fact is that the local economy is a web of symbiotic relationships where a range of businesses rely on one another for success. Our restaurants, bars, pubs, music venues, and take away outlets all need each other to succeed. Our cafes, retail shops, and independent grocers all need each other too, and so on. The principles that will help one of these businesses will likewise help the rest: providing them latitude to operate as they see fit and to reduce the burden of Council to the greatest extent possible.

How important are the arts and live music sectors to you as a prospective councillor and how do you aim to support them?

Please see above.

What are your priorities in terms of what you want to achieve for your community as a councillor?

My priority as a councillor would be to ensure that our local economy is once again vibrant and our area is commercially attractive. This is not just about dollars and cents, this is about maintaining what we residents love about living in this part of the world – having every outlet imaginable right in our backyards. I want Yarra (Melba in particular) to once again become Melbourne’s meeting place. This will not only provide jobs and development, but will enhance the vibrancy and diversity that people associate with the area and enjoy so much. I want to see a community where Council gets out of the way and doesn’t needlessly interfere, and allows residents and businesses to show the best of themselves to all of Melbourne.

How important is climate action to you and how do you plan to implement it within your council?

The fact of the matter is that Yarra Council (like all other Councils) has no influence over our climate and planetary temperatures. To me it is a grand waste of time for Councils to fixate on issues over which they have no control. We have state and federal governments that can develop policies in this area. Council should stop grandstanding and instead focus on areas that it can influence for the better. As an aside, the most effective way for Council to reduce its effect on the environment would be to shrink itself and adopt the principles of small and limited government. This would see reduced energy consumption, fewer travel-reliant activities, less printing and paper usage, reduced waste and fewer emissions overall.

Katarina Radonic – Independent

What is your strategy for rebuilding your local community and supporting its small businesses post-lockdown?

I’m a long-time resident of Melba who has owned three successful hospitality businesses in Richmond, I’ve balanced budgets, dealt with diverse customers, and yes, dealt with the vagaries of council. I understand how hard it can be for small business.

This post-COVID world is an opportunity to redesign our local communities, and the space in which our local businesses trade – to create bold, reimagined “living streets”, building cohesive outdoor seating spaces for businesses from beautiful recycled materials, which contributes to council’s objectives on sustainability and recycling. These structures would be beautiful, permanent, upgradeable and all-weather for year-round use.

I propose to create jobs in our municipality by hiring and training teams of maintenance workers to maintain our ‘living streets’, ensure that the new rubbish bins are accessible and maintained, Including classes in horticulture and infrastructure maintenance thereby providing groundwork for future employment. This is the time to  utilize  opportunities that tactical urbanism provides us, to test new things and transform our streets, to support this community of residents and business, to recover from COVID with a vigorous plan that is bold and ambitious

Living streets, green walls, accessible cafes, outdoor art and meeting spaces.

How do you plan to support live music venues in reopening and getting back on their feet post-lockdown?

Our venues need real support and help particularly at this time. Yarra and live music have always been closely entwined; fostering festivals and celebrations in 3121 would make live music the beating heart of our post-COVID life. Again, we have an opportunity to work with the venues to reimagine covid-safe and ongoing events sponsored by Council to make this an integral part of the community.

At present, our council has been sadly lacking and the proposal of an inadequate $5,000 grant that you can apply for, if eligible, is simply not enough. I have proposed, and if elected, intend to implement a moratorium on all council fees for the next two years. I said as much at the Melba Town Hall last week.

How important are the arts and live music sectors to you as a prospective councillor and how do you aim to support them?

In the four venues I owned across Yarra, I have always actively promoted live music. My last venue was a pop-up for five months and focussed on Texas-style food and live bands.

Previously I have owned and run venues in Bridge Road that included live upcoming musicians three nights a week, and then a bar/restaurant that featured blues nightly, including performers of the calibre of Matt Walker, The Blue Shieks, Ash Davies and an open mic night.

I believe that music, in all forms, brings people together, breaks down barriers and builds the community. As part of both the COVID-recovery program, and as part of my plan for Melba and Yarra, I intend to create pocket and micro outdoor venues, for arts including live music. I have scouted the precinct and found many viable areas to create and support a living thriving arts scene.

What are your priorities in terms of what you want to achieve for your community as a councillor?

I want to create an urban landscape that is beautiful, clean, well maintained and joyful, with lots of greening of nature strips, pocket parks and zones throughout for the community to enjoy. We have the space, however, it just is not utilised well or maintained well.  It is community money that the council spends and it needs to be spent for the benefit of the community.

I have scouted Burnley, Richmond and Cremorne and have had expert advice on modelling and costs, and we can reallocate space to create pocket spaces for sport, exercise, art, music, dog and family zones. This project will bring people together, create ‘living’ streets and help the environment, all while bringing joy and respite to our community, as we rebuild for the future.

I want to bring about significant changes to the consultation process and how things are implemented on our council. This would include wider participation, with different community groups and Town Halls for the varying demographics and ethnicities in our city; a safe space to communicate proposals, with input and ideas flowing in both directions, where the best solutions are sought. A vital aspect of invigorating the community is a youth town hall to spearhead the arts, festival and music projects in collaboration with directors, venues and artists.

I am determined to bring the voice, and choice, back to the people.

How important is climate action to you and how do you plan to implement it within your council?

I very much believe in climate action, and pursuing it actively, not passively.

I would like to see real change, with a multi-layered approach, for the benefit of our community:

  • Greening of streets throughout, green walls in alleyways and wherever there is facility.
  • Recycling of food scraps, accessible to the whole community, such a recycle stations dotted throughout. Composting stations for community use.
  • Council subsidised water tanks and solar panels.
  • Producing gardens on strips, and roundabouts for public use.
  • Work with Gleadell Street market to grow and expand the market.
  • Support high street traders by providing roadside stalls for their stores thereby creating a buzzing, thriving market village expanding from the food market outwards.
  • Create a weekend destination, in the vein of St Kilda Esplanade Market but much, much more.
  • Encourage ‘shop local’ though an incentive-driven approach, in conjunction with local traders.
  • Bring back kerbside hard waste – true recycling and upcycling in the community, and providing a source of materials for creatives.

Herschel Landes – Independent

What is your strategy for rebuilding your local community and supporting its small businesses post-lockdown?

I am committed to the revitalisation and reactivation of Richmond’s activity centres. This is a project that I have been invested in for many years, and have been part of the government’s task force of revitalisation, as well as presenting papers at Main Street conferences, etc. I am committed to helping small business get through this dark period.

How do you plan to support live music venues in reopening and getting back on their feet post-lockdown?

Clearly, live music forms an integral part of the tapestry of commercial activity and is vital to the long term resilience of activity centres and night-time economy.

Clutter and indoor venues are issues for the retail and hospitality industry and we need new approaches. Bridge Rd Main Street has successfully had a video stream events and I could easily see that link with outdoor events that coincide with novel activations. We need to think outside the box. I am currently seeking to activate uniques spaces around the centres and spare car parks, etc. The car park behind Coles in Swan St comes to mind. Again – there needs to be some form of collaboration and main street platforms can provide necessary organizational structures to help reopen access to live music.

What are your priorities in terms of what you want to achieve for your community as a councillor?
  1. Revitalisation and reactivation of activity centres and local economy.
  2. Strategic planning reforms.
  3. Addressing major issues around a very constrained budget outcome.

In terms of broader community: addressing dereliction and neglect, addressing homelessness and support active transport and open space management.

How important is climate action to you and how do you plan to implement it within your council?

Promoting active transport, improve PT and encouraging passive solar energy outcomes on buildings and MORE plantings!

We reached out to Penelope Drummond, Julie Bignell, Sandeep Sarathy, Mitchell Price, Dora Tsipouras, Sarah Witty and Claudia Nguyen but did not receive a response. They are also running for council in the Melba Ward. 

Nicholls Ward

Three vacancies, 11 candidates.

Sasha Beitner – Independent

What is your strategy for rebuilding your local community and supporting its small businesses post-lockdown?

This is undoubtedly the most important immediate priority for the new council. I think it’s important to have a multifaceted approach to support business:

  • Remove red tape and enable businesses permits to operate differently, whether that be outdoor dining, different operating hours, etc.
  • Use council resources to promote local businesses, coordinate street festivals promote our diverse culture and make Yarra a place that people will come and visit
  • Bring together our live music culture in Yarra to participate and lead key components of these festivals or outdoor dining gatherings.
  • We should be utilising and offering grants to have live music front and centre not just at possible festivals but also integrated into what will become a highly prevalent outdoor dining culture.

How do you plan to support live music venues in reopening and getting back on their feet post-lockdown?

  • Live music venues are culturally at the very core of who we are within the City of Yarra. Many of these iconic venues have built the culture that we are so proud to live and work in.
  • There has been some support from the state government for these, but obviously, this isn’t broad enough and there is a key role Council must play in providing financial and non-financial support to these venues. Whether this be through grants for artists, subsidies for permits or similar measures, we must do everything we can.
  • Put simply, we need venues open, artists performing and people coming through the door – I will do everything I can to make all three of these things happen as swiftly and safely as possible.

How important are the arts and live music sectors to you as a prospective councillor and how do you aim to support them?

Similar to the above question, the arts and live music sectors are one of the fundamental cultural icons of the City of Yarra. We need venues open safely, we need artists paid well, performing in them and we need to do so with as many patrons as possible. I will support them with council resources including grants, advertising, permit simplification as well as my personal attendance!

What are your priorities in terms of what you want to achieve for your community as a councillor?

My priorities include:

Recovering from COVID-19: I have spent the last six months working on our hospital front line and dealing with the impacts of COVID-19. Our recovery from this must be the most important focus of the newly elected council. We must incentivise and encourage business recovery through grants, easy access to appropriate permits and other stimuli to bring life back into our once thriving Nicholls business community

Community Engagement and Consultation:

I will pursue greater community consultation on all council projects that impact our amenity. Members of our current council, particularly from the major parties seem to have forgotten that this is an integral and critical process of our democracy. Your voice and impact needs to be heard and considered first and foremost!

How important is climate action to you and how do you plan to implement it within your council?

Climate action is critical not just to us but for generations to come. I’m committed to Yarra’s Climate Emergency Plan. Now more than ever, our focus on addressing our climate crisis cannot change. We are the custodians of our climate for future generations and our actions now will make Yarra and our entire planet liveable for generations to come.

Debra Thorpe – Labor

What is your strategy for rebuilding your local community and supporting its small businesses post-lockdown?

That’s a big question and it will take a whole community to come together to come up with a great plan of where to begin and where to focus, so I would very much begin with community consultation. A great place to start will be in our local shopping strips, building the vibrancy back by providing a project worker to liaise with local traders and owners around developing new ideas for building the strips back into the heart of community. Art, tree planting, street seating, pop-up studios, as well as recycling hubs – there are so many possibilities.

How do you plan to support live music venues in reopening and getting back on their feet post-lockdown?

We need to start small, outdoor sessions first and as COVID safety increases, then more indoor. It will be a steady but slow process.

How important are the arts and live music sectors to you as a prospective councillor and how do you aim to support them?

I am a patron of live theatre and music festivals and I have friends and family members who are musicians, street and visual artists, actors and writers. In my work, I incorporate art therapy principles. I value art as a healthy part of me and my family.

What are your priorities in terms of what you want to achieve for your community as a councillor?

You can read about Yarra Labor on our website and my policies and priorities here.

How important is climate action to you and how do you plan to implement it within your council?

Climate action is basic to everything. If we don’t have climate action now, our future looks very bleak with rising temperatures, severe weather events including floods and bushfires and food and animal life at risk all over the planet.

Sophie Wade – The Greens

What is your strategy for rebuilding your local community and supporting its small businesses post-lockdown?

Yarra’s already got a great grant scheme, which I would propose to top up with more cash for as long as it’s needed. I’m super keen to see more outdoor dining, and to put in place measures that would allow local cafes, restaurants and bars to get access to the space they need to reopen. In consultation with local traders and residents, I hope we can commandeer some road and parking space to allow our hospitality businesses the opportunity to get back on their feet.

How do you plan to support live music venues in reopening and getting back on their feet post-lockdown?

I think we’ll need to get creative with how we support live music venues – social distancing measures are likely to impact them more dramatically than even restaurants, with customers usually packing in to hear their favourite bands and artists. Along with grants, I’d like us to consider how live music venues may be able to pay a central role in some post-COVID street festivals and outdoor cultural events.

How important are the arts and live music sectors to you as a prospective councillor and how do you aim to support them?

Live music venues are absolutely central to life in the City of Yarra. I live on Smith St, and love walking home at any hour of the night to hear music (live and otherwise) pumping out across the street. I turned 30 in March this year – and right about then, the music stopped. I’m looking forward to getting the soundtrack to my nights back soon!

As a councillor, I plan to listen to live music venue owners and operators, and local artists, about how best they need support. I’m fortunate to be running alongside Gabrielle de Vietri for the Greens, a contemporary artist and activist. I hope, if elected, to listen to people like Gabrielle, who know much more than I do about what would be helpful, in doing what needs to be done to support our critical arts industry.

What are your priorities in terms of what you want to achieve for your community as a councillor?

Three key things:

  1. Create more green spaces to dissipate the ‘urban heat island effect’, where built-up areas get hotter and hotter. As well as being unpleasant, the urban heat island effect leads to people relying more heavily on air conditioning, and thereby contributing to climate change.
  2. Increase the walkability and cyclability of Yarra. I think there are many opportunities in Yarra to make our streets more walkable and cyclable. On the cycling front, I think we not only need more bike paths and more bike parking, but we need to take a longer-term approach to fixing gaps in our bicycle network (eg. between Darebin and Yarra Councils, where the St George’s Rd bike path ends, but before the Linear Park path begins).
  3. Support our cafes, bars, restaurants and clubs in recovering from the pandemic. Our local hospitality businesses are in a dire situation, and are going to need our support.

Underlying any action I wish to take is a strong belief that we are in a climate emergency, and we need to take critical action now. I also believe in equality of opportunity, and that this does not yet exist in Yarra. I think the pandemic has brought to the forefront many of the inequalities running through our society and gives us the opportunity to address them.

How important is climate action to you and how do you plan to implement it within your council?

Climate action is critical to me and is the underlying theme for why I’m running for council. A lot of the key things I’m hoping to achieve are underpinned by a desire to make Yarra a more climate-safe place, and to help local residents and businesses shift to carbon-neutral operations.

Em Sage – Independent

What is your strategy for rebuilding your local community and supporting its small businesses post-lockdown?

Responding with flexibility and accounting for individual circumstances is critical. COVID-19 has impacted us differently. And although some pre-COVID services like domestic travel might be returning to some parts of the country, the pandemic isn’t over.  The evolving nature of the virus and uncertainties around the timing of a vaccine, makes predicting an end date difficult. Our response needs to be flexible enough to support businesses facing multiple scenarios and timeframes and tailored so people get access to the right assistance and services for their circumstances. So far, government departments and business support groups have published information then left individuals and businesses to figure it out for themselves. This isn’t rebuilding. This is throwing someone a life vest, then hoping they use it. Rebuilding is working together. Council should reach out and work with local businesses individually, to get them up to speed with what’s changed, help them mobilise what they can control and realise growth opportunities. I would like to see a small business “COVID Recovery Line” that connects small business and sole traders in the community with business strategy consultants and financial experts who can partner with them on a pro bono basis through this rebuilding process.

We also need a City Council that responds quickly and with agility, to help the community capitalise on opportunities for rebuilding, like open-air dining. The last thing we need is for businesses to remain closed because City Council has tied up approvals for initiatives like these in red tape. I also believe that strong partnerships with the State Government, Federal Government, and neighbouring City Councils will allow the City of Yarra to effectively lobby for the funding and services our community needs to rebuild in a COVID safe way.

How do you plan to support live music venues in reopening and getting back on their feet post-lockdown?

The Victorian Government’s $13 million Live Music Industry Support Package is a great initiative. Grants from this package have allowed venue owners to keep staff employed, pay bills and prepare for reopening with COVID measures in place like plastic screening and patron caps. I would work with the Victorian Government and venue owners to ensure there is a single common sense COVID safe standard, so venues aren’t held to different standards across Victoria’s various municipalities. I am also concerned about those venues in our community that missed out on the Victorian Government’s Industry Support Package. I will work with these venue owners and mobilise community support to get their venues up and running in a COVID safe way too. I strongly believe that no one in our community should be left behind, as we rebuild.

Another initiative which sounds great is the Victorian Government amendments to the state’s Planning Scheme, so it better reflects the social, economic and cultural value of live music. However, no one seems to know what this means. I would work with the State Government to better understand this proposal and make sure these amendments benefit our community’s vibrant music scene.

How important are the arts and live music sectors to you as a prospective councillor and how do you aim to support them?

Our artists and musicians bring us together to engage, share and reflect. Tourists come to the City of Yarra to visit our galleries, view our street art, and attend our music venues. Despite being a hub of creativity, less than 2% of our population are paid artists and musicians. This suggests we aren’t doing nearly enough to provide our artists and musicians with pathways to paid employment.

The arts and our music industry have been particularly hard hit by the COVID-19 crisis. Many artists and musicians are reliant on short-term contracts and have struggled to qualify for the JobKeeper package, which is primarily targeted at employees who have been working for the same employer for at least 12 months. The Victorian Government’s Live Music Industry Support Package and the Federal Government’s COVID-19 Creative Economy Support Package will help, but it may take time for the money to get to where it is needed. In the interim we can identify vacant spaces and incentivise property owners to host art and music events that bring our community together in a COVID safe way. And identify art and music venues that missed out on these grant schemes and harness the City of Yarra’s STIMULATE Creative Grants, and community volunteer groups to support them.

What are your priorities in terms of what you want to achieve for your community as a councillor?

My first priority will be Council Reform. By listening when I meet local residents out walking, when I read their emails and posts in online forums, I have come to realise our Council has lost their trust. Without trust you can’t mobilise a community to act on important issues like economic recovery, heritage protection and sustainability. My first priority will be reforming the way council operates to ensure more inclusive consultation, more transparent decision making, prioritisation frameworks that are accountable to ratepayers, and building better partnerships with neighbouring Councils, State Government and Federal Government ministers and departments, so we can access funds and approvals for the infrastructure and services we need.

My second priority will be heritage protection and environmental sustainability. With better operating models in place at City Council, and with better State and Federal Government partnerships I would tackle Yarra’s Planning Scheme. Height restrictions; an annual cap on approvals for multi-residential complexes; better environmental standards for new structures; and working with the State Government on the state’s planning scheme, so it better reflects the social, economic and cultural value of our community, including its live music scene – these are just a few of the amendments I would work for. I would work with environmental groups to conduct a carbon footprint analysis of our community and target the biggest polluters with incentives to transition to carbon-neutral ways of operating. I would work to get electric buses on our roads and food waste recycling services to our homes.

My third priority would be creating an inclusive community. I would make sure language, or access to technology aren’t barriers to community participation. I would implement a COVID Recovery Plan that helps those who need it, like our small business operators, our artists and musicians. I would make sure our Day Care centres are supported under ‘COVID normal’ paradigms, so primary caregivers can get back to work. I would conduct a gender equity survey of our amenities and street signs, and ensure we see more diversity in our public places, including female pedestrian traffic lights.

How important is climate action to you and how do you plan to implement it within your council?

In the City of Yarra, climate change poses a threat to our community through extreme heatwaves and severe storms. While the current health focus continues to be an immediate priority, we must still act to address the global climate emergency.

Unsustainable growth is exacerbating climate change. The population of the City of Yarra is expected to increase by almost 30,000 by 2031. The city is growing by an average of 1160 dwellings per year. Based on current population trends, in ten years there will be 48,000 more car trips in the City of Yarra per day. We need to continue to reduce our carbon footprint, whilst growing our population sustainably. We can do this by working with environmental groups to conduct a carbon footprint analysis of our community and target the biggest polluters with incentives to transition to carbon-neutral ways of operating. We can improve infrastructure for carbon-neutral transportation and invest in electric buses. We can reduce waste to landfill by introducing food recycling bins and facilities. We can then use this green waste as compost for our parks and green spaces. We can run ‘Community Clean Up Days’ to remove litter and rubbish from our streets and waterways.

Amber Anderson – Animal Justice Party

What is your strategy for rebuilding your local community and supporting its small businesses post-lockdown?

For the community, this is the time we absolutely need to deliver on our essential services, get the fundamentals right like the provision public health and aged care; meals on wheels; community services and waste management. The services provided need to evolve and sync with the new rhythm of life emerging from lockdown- more people are home which translates into more home waste pickups required.  With more people frequenting parks in groups, increasing waste pickups and policing littering and dog waste is being cleaned up will be essential for liveability.

For local businesses, we need to review our priorities and redesign our approach and resource allocation to best assist our economy to get back on its feet. For hospitality in Yarra, it will be essential got get footpath trading permits expedited with less paperwork and reward collaborative and creative ideas that traders can have with their neighbours to support each other. The process itself needs to lose the red tape and be streamlined so that businesses know what they are to expect and also to make it viable for them to plan and operate and to employ people again. I would like to see a loosening of outdoor liquor permits and outdoor signage to enable businesses to entice customers back into our villages.

How do you plan to support live music venues in reopening and getting back on their feet post-lockdown?

Live music venues are the heartbeat of Yarra. I would like to see more flexibility in outdoor permits, liquor licensing etc.. issued to allow live music venues to operate outdoors in parks or small neighbourhood green spaces at family-friendly times to support artists and to bring sorely needed creativity back into our lives. Once we are permitted back inside again, I would suggest that there is a grace period on permit renewals and deferred options for payment until live venues can get up and running again.

How important are the arts and live music sectors to you as a prospective councillor and how do you aim to support them?

I am very supportive of the arts and live music sectors. I would aim to bring events to our community online or to do roving street fairs throughout Yarra. In the last 6 months, our community has been craving human contact and interaction. If we can’t do that face-to-face- then perhaps we could consider doing this outside and in a socially distant and roving way which could protect all.

Once we open up fully, I would like to see investment in our arts and live music sector as a priority.

What are your priorities in terms of what you want to achieve for your community as a councillor?

I’m passionate about preserving the unique heritage of areas like Carlton, Fitzroy North and Clifton Hill and the skyline. I don’t think anyone wants to see beautiful heritage building destroyed and multi-level, windowless boxes put up in its place. It is important that we balance amenity and growth of our area with the preservation of history. I will aim to bring rational thought and compassion into our decision making in planning. I would also like to see non-obtrusive solar panels able to be added to heritage buildings as we move towards a greener future.

Being a member of the Animal Justice Party, I am very interested in the welfare of our companion animals and wildlife. I would like to see Yarra held up as a great place for animals and people to live. To start this journey, we need transparency of mandatory reporting of kill rates of our dogs and cats in Yarra and for us to cease supporting convenience killing. Providing fenced single-dog off-leash areas in Yarra for anxious dogs and adopted dogs who can’t go to dog parks, provision of affordable desexing and education & support for living with our wildlife in the area. I would also like to improve the habitat of and protect the grey-headed flying foxes residing in Yarra Park, so impacted by longer, hotter summers.

How important is climate action to you and how do you plan to implement it within your council?

Climate change is important to me and important to all residents of the City of Yarra.

The Animal Justice Party is concerned about the impact of climate change on both humans and animals. Animals will succumb to extreme climatic events well before we do. A world that becomes 2-4 degrees warmer, or more, will kill billions of individual animals and could eliminate a substantial proportion of existing animal species.

I will support replacement of old, worn infrastructure with carbon-free, recycled options where possible, advocate for greater canopy cover and green space and also lobby for Meat Free Monday to be suggested to residents. I will lobby for Meals on Wheels to have access to vegetarian and vegan options.

Bridgid O’Brien – Independent

What is your strategy for rebuilding your local community and supporting its small businesses post-lockdown?

All of my strategies relate to a community consultation platform and community led decision-making.

COVID-19 recovery directed by the community, for our whole community that embraces lessons learnt and addresses the inequalities exposed. Protecting our diverse community, the most vulnerable, the elderly, and making sure our youth aren’t left behind. Ensuring our music and night-time economy survive, our creative community are supported and working for strategies to address the disproportionate impact on women.

Local business support

Urgent strategies to revitalise local shopping precincts with small festivals and focused activities, discussions with landlords to minimise vacancies through pop-ups, community spaces, art exhibitions and studios. Better graffiti management.

Consultation with small businesses to support COVID-safe operations, permit waivers and working together to find solutions for the new problems – like facilitation of bulk purchases of cleaning materials to lower costs for individual traders.

How do you plan to support live music venues in reopening and getting back on their feet post-lockdown?

Again, through a collaborative approach where Council takes its lead from our venues and musicians in providing the support they require. The night-time economy is an incredibly important aspect of life in Yarra and central to what makes Yarra special. In my role as a Councillor I have worked closely with the Yarra Arts Advisory Committee to ensure additional grants targeted to our creative sector throughout the year. I have contributed to developing a support network for our creative community who were hit hardest and earliest, to help address their very specific and different issues.

How important are the arts and live music sectors to you as a prospective councillor and how do you aim to support them?

I will continue to work with the art and music community to find creative ways to provide support to ensure the sector survives. I will also continue to work toward Council better promoting and advocating for the sector, and its importance such as the role it plays in innovation, in manufacturing, business, sustainability, addressing new and challenging ideas, fostering creative solutions and problem solving. How it has sustained many in this crisis, its role in community building and engagement, how it provides space for different voices, its ability to move emotions, allow personal expression, how it promotes consideration of value structures and ethical thinking. Art is not a luxury, it is an important part of Yarra’s liveability, history and economy. Artists depend on their supporters and Yarra must find ways to do so.

What are your priorities in terms of what you want to achieve for your community as a councillor?

1. Greater community participation, better consultation and community-led decision-making. Ensuring community access to information, a culture that values community contributions and actively works to implement them. Developing a process for community directed strategic planning for the future, that is transparent and flexible to accommodate change.

2. Our environment. Better protections for our remaining biodiversity and the Yarra catchment in our municipality. Planning controls to protect our green corridors and to prevent developer environmental vandalism. Wildlife refuge areas, connectivity of pocket parks, street canopies and gardens. Faster implementation of the Climate Emergency Plan and emission targets. Further native tree planting, a gardening for wildlife program and a greater focus on restoring our local biodiversity. Council facilitation of a community environment hub with a citizen science network.

3. COVID-19 recovery and small business support.

4. Planning and Heritage. An overhaul of Yarra’s planning policy to ensure heritage is better represented as a priority within both statutory and strategic planning areas of Council. Better heritage controls to safeguard the character of our neighbourhoods. Heritage oversight on all Council planning matters, the implementation of the Heritage Strategy and better resourcing for a Heritage Department of Council.

Planning policy that supports our residents and is not skewed in the favour of developers focused on profit, not community benefit. I will work with our community toward better planning controls to protect the character of our residential streets and what makes Yarra special, desirable and liveable. Policy that ensures sustainable, appropriate and sympathetic designs.

5. Traffic and cycling strategies to reduce rat running and lower speed limits in residential streets. Park and trail pathways for leisure activities and improved infrastructure for bike commuting in consultation with residents, informed by a community-developed vision for the future

How important is climate action to you and how do you plan to implement it within your council?

It is incredibly important to me. I spoke at The Greenhouse88 Conference at the University of Melbourne back in 1988. I have been actively working on climate change awareness, protecting biodiversity and talking about a tipping point even before there was a Greens Party. I will ensure funding is allocated toward much more urgent implementation of the Climate Emergency Plan but also for policy toward reversing the damage already done to our local ecosystem. I will fight to have unnecessary capital expenditure projects put aside, immediately reduce funding allocation for consultants’ fees and cease expensive planning for these projects to redirect it toward our environmental assets.

Amanda Stone – The Greens

*See answers for fellow Yarra Greens candidate, Gabrielle de Vietri, above. 

Annabelle Wilson – Labor

What is your strategy for rebuilding your local community and supporting its small businesses post-lockdown?

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s the importance of a liveable, local city where residents have close access to the shopping and essential services they need. Once lockdowns are over, if elected I would focus on rebuilding through our local shopping strips. Yarra is lucky to have over ten “high streets” from Queens Parade to Swan Street and we need to find ways to make them popular places to visit, with seating, trees and good quality footpaths and events to attract visitors so they can sample the street’s offerings. I’d like to set up opportunities for local traders and Councillors to increase communication. I’d also like to work with the commercial property sector to find opportunities for pop up stores and services such as occasional childcare in the empty shop fronts on our local shopping strips.

How do you plan to support live music venues in reopening and getting back on their feet post lockdown? How important are the arts and live music sectors to you as a prospective councillor and how do you aim to support them?

It was awesome to see the Victorian Labor government’s announcement that sees millions of dollars in support flow to the live music industry. Over 20 venues in Yarra will benefit from this – fitting, as we’re the hub of live music in Victoria! The announcement also sees changes to the planning scheme which means the existing use of a site must be considered when applications for changing use are submitted – this will be key if any developers try to buy out our music venues. If elected, I will vote for temporary weekend street closures (part or full) to create covid-safe outdoor space for outdoor music and dining venues in locations such as Peel St, Johnson St, Gertrude St, Botherambo St (off Swan St) and other locations to be determined with local businesses. The City of Melbourne has proposed similar plans and it’s time Yarra also had a plan. We need to work with the state government, not against it, to achieve outcomes for Yarra.

What are your priorities in terms of what you want to achieve for your community as a councillor?

Apart from the issues raised in your other questions, some of my other priorities include promotion of healthy community connections and open accessible spaces. As a working single mother for the first two years of Prim’s life, I know how critical council services are. These services were vital to my ability to cope, so my core values include maintaining these local programs and services, as well as our community spaces. I grew up one of the 19th-century terraces and a couple of years ago, I bought a terrace of my own here in Carlton North so I can bring my daughter up here too. So Heritage Protection and Conservation and the heritage homes in Nicholls are particularly special to me. New developments are important to the growth of our community, but I feel need to respect the cultural, social and historical significance of their surroundings- the soul of our wonderful area.

How important is climate action to you and how do you plan to implement it within your council?

Yarra City Council has proudly been on the forefront of strong environmental action and has been using 100% renewable electricity since 2019 for Council operations. Yarra Council is also proactively converting gas appliances to renewable electricity by 2030. But I believe that the City of Yarra can go even further by encouraging and incentivising commercial buildings and private residents to also buy 100% renewable energy and phasing out fossil fuel usage, including natural gas. If elected, I’d support installing Solar panels on roofs for both rentals and owners and asphalt busting to make way for more green spaces and reduce the urban heat island effect.

We reached out to Catherine Noone, Guy Ewan Barker and Gerald Fisher but did not receive a response. They are also running for council in the Nicholls Ward.

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