While on Council, I’ve tried hard to steer my fellow councillors towards sustainable growth, improved efficiency, community consultation, reducing air pollution and getting the best possible value for ratepayers’ money.
Improved recycling and the new ‘City to Soil’ composting facility reduce environmental damage and save money by extending the life of our very expensive landfill.
Council’s Sustainable Living Expos encouraged businesses to consider Armidale as a centre for sustainable industry, and helped gain community support for local initiatives such as the community wind farm and bulk purchases of solar cells and sustainable home heating.
The solar installations on the visitor centre and Council depot save money, as do Council’s energy audits - investing $15,000 in energy-efficient lighting will pay for itself in 6 months.
Community engagement has improved – thanks to a new committee, community input on the Strategic Plan and a facebook page where feedback/maintenance issues are being posted. I’ve listened to, and supported community sentiments about the location of the visitor centre, retaining most of our beautiful public open spaces, and support the retention of Dumaresq dam as a recreation area.
Council also continues to lobby the State Government for better planning regulations to improve energy efficiency, ensure houses are designed for our climate, and supported a moratorium on coal seam gas until more is known about potential health and environmental effects.
Woodsmoke remains the major unsolved issue. The average new woodheater in Armidale emits as many particles as 350 diesel utes or 4WD satisfying new standards set to protect public health. Armidale’s pollution measurements are now higher than the previous 4 years. Most of my fellow councillors thought Council shouldn’t even aspire to meet National air quality standards until 2020!
With the toxic chemicals in woodsmoke now linked to genetic damage in babies and reduced IQ when children start school, and average life male expectancy in this region some 2.6 years shorter than in Sydney, we need to solve this problem to encourage retirees and tree-changes to come here.
Like the ACT, we could consider New Zealand’s successful policies that reduced pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, made houses more comfortable, improved sustainability and improved health.
If a Greens team is elected to council, we will build on our many successes, promoting sustainable growth, value for ratepayers’ money and a healthy future for all residents.
Dorothy L Robinson,
Councillor & Greens Local Election Candidate