Mayor hoping for a better 2021

WHAT A YEAR: Port Lincoln mayor Brad Flaherty said the city coped with a number of difficulties during 2020 and was looking forward to 2021.
WHAT A YEAR: Port Lincoln mayor Brad Flaherty said the city coped with a number of difficulties during 2020 and was looking forward to 2021.

What a year 2020 was for our city.

In January the city was still reeling from the impacts of the November 2019 Duck Ponds fire that burnt 235 hectares, as well as many parts of the country also experiencing substantial bushfires over the summer.

The city also suffered significant floods in January causing damage to some of our city's major infrastructure and local shops and businesses. Not only did our community have to contend with bushfires and flooding but also the potential threat of contaminated flood water posing a serious risk to public health at our front beach.

Council staff and the whole community have worked together to overcome some serious impacts and potential issues resulting from these natural disasters. These events shaped what was to become a very challenging year.

What else could happen, COVID-19! It has had a major economic impact on our local businesses and tourism industry with domestic and international travel heavily restricted at times.

The city was gearing up to welcome four more cruise ships in March and one in May to end the already successful summer cruise ship season.

The community has been extremely resilient and together we have got through hopefully the toughest year by far.

I must admit to having some private concerns on how we were going to deal with COVID from a health perspective, but I am pleased to say that our community, and as a country we are meeting the challenge.

With the COVID restrictions easing and the positive and creative community we have, we have stepped up to the challenge and have kept our doors open for business.

Speaking with business owners across our city, they have stated that since June there has been a huge influx of visitors and visitor dollars coming into the city.

That is a welcome outcome for our local businesses and tourism operators who have had it tough and have adapted well to the new environment we face.

During the year, we saw Rob Donaldson return as acting chief executive officer until the appointment of new chief executive officer Matthew Morgan in October.

He will lead our community into 2021 with a new vision and the adoption of the city's ten year Strategic Directions Plan.

We have managed through all of this adversity to complete some quality projects and upgrades such as the completion of the second stage of the upgrade to the Parnkalla Trail through the wharf precinct between the silos and the refuelling jetty, as well as the completion of the Leisure Centre stadium expansion and table tennis carpark.

We have also upgraded the city's street lights to energy efficient LED fittings, and replaced the failed balustrades on the Civic Centre balcony, plus developed a Precincts Master Plan to guide the revitalisation of Port Lincoln's public realm, and adopted the final concept design for the proposed redevelopment of Puckridge Park.

We have also commenced works on a Disability Access and Inclusion Plan and our first Reconciliation Action Plan.

Some major projects and upgrades are flagged for this year with the opportunity to maximise the current low interest rates and potential government funding streams.

We are hoping that we can deliver key elements of the recently adopted and award winning Master Plan this year for the city.

BRAD FLAHERTY

Port Lincoln City Council mayor