Thank you to my fellow Councillors for electing me as Swan Hill Rural City Council Mayor for the next year.
I’d also like to congratulate Cr Jade Benham who was elected as Deputy Mayor and on her election to Council for the next four years.
Additionally, I’d like to congratulate my fellow Councillors on their election to Swan Hill Rural City Council – Les McPhee, Nicole McKay, Ann Young, Chris Jeffery and Stuart King.
It is an honour to be able to serve on Council and continue to work with and represent the community for the next four years.
I would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank former Councillor Lea Johnson, who did not nominate for this election, for her significant work and dedication during her time on Council.
No doubt, 2020 has been a challenging year with the COVID-19 pandemic having significant impacts on our community, as well as our hospitality, tourism and retail businesses.
We are now starting to see a positive trend in terms of recovery from the pandemic, including the opening up of businesses and services.
Together with Council, I also look forward to moving ahead with the $51 million in projects that are in the pipeline for our municipality, while ensuring Council’s core business of providing services and facilities to our community continues.
Pioneer Settlement and art gallery re-open
In some positive news as we continue to look towards recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, last week we saw the re-opening of two of our region’s iconic tourist destinations – the Pioneer Settlement and Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery.
Trading hours at the Pioneer Settlement have been reduced with the site re-opening from Thursday to Monday initially, in the lead up to Christmas.
The entire Pioneer Settlement site and experiences are available to visitors, albeit with certain restrictions to ensure COVID-19 social distancing requirements are met.
Additionally, our community and visitors to the region will once again be able to enjoy the art gallery’s program of exhibitions.
Similar to the Pioneer Settlement, the art gallery will have COVID-19 restrictions in place, including a limit of 20 people per space in the main gallery.
Visitors to the gallery will be able to catch the last two weeks of the prestigious Swan Hill National Print and Drawing Awards. In December the gallery will also be featuring the exhibition Safe Space.
Outdoor pools open
Following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, we are seeing the opening of outdoor pools. Swan Hill, Robinvale and Nyah outdoor pools have opened, with the Manangatang pool to open this Saturday, 21 November.
All outdoor pools have a COVID-safe plan and range of COVID-safe rules to be adhered to when using pool facilities. This includes using the four square metre rule, for up to a maximum of 50 people per pool.
The opening of pools is great news for swimming enthusiasts and community members, with the temperatures climbing and summer almost here.
Manangatang residents will notice recent upgrades to their pool including an upgrade to the existing pool shell and painting works.
Nyah residents can also look forward to solar pool-heating upgrades early next year.
Stay vigilant and COVID-safe
Council is reminding people to stay vigilant and COVID-safe following the lifting last week of the ‘ring of steel’, separating Melbourne from regional Victoria.
It’s been fantastic to welcome back visitors to the region travelling from other parts of regional Victorian as well as Melbournians – and it’s great to see life returning to a new normal.
However now is not the time to become complacent.
With businesses now open and our region back on the tourism map – we must ensure we remain vigilant and follow the rules outlined by the State Government.
Although we’ve had very low case numbers throughout this pandemic, this does not make us immune to future outbreaks. We must continue to follow the guidelines to reduce the risk of people in our region contracting the virus.
I encourage people to stay safe by washing their hands regularly, wearing a face mask when they leave home, coughing and sneezing into their elbow, and keeping at least 1.5 metres from others.
If you have symptoms of coronavirus get tested and stay home.
To find out more about current COVID-19 restrictions visit www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus