The start of the New Year is always a chance to reassess, set new goals, check in on ambitions and plan, so the Advertiser has pinned down some of the region’s key leaders to find out their hopes for 2023. Today we’re looking at what our local government leaders in Albany and Plantagenet are looking forward to. Key personnel at the Shire of Denmark are still enjoying a holiday break, so the Advertiser will endeavour to talk to them next week. 1. What three regional concerns do you hope are addressed in 2023? Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington For an improvement in housing availability in and around Albany. To counteract the shortage of workers to ensure Albany remains the thriving economic hub of the Great Southern. Improvement in the condition of the South Coast Highway to increase safety for all road users. Plantagenet Shire president Chris Pavlovich Acute labour shortages — the region is moving ahead in leaps and bounds predominantly in areas of agriculture, construction and tourism. Aged care, health, education, and the service industry in general, are all suffering due to skilled staff shortages. This situation limits the growth of the region. Housing — it is no secret that finding suitable housing for a range of sectors is impossible. This will no doubt limit sustainable long-term growth in our region. All three levels of government need to do their bit to address this issue. Digital connectivity — the State Government provides power and potable water to WA communities on a relatively even cost platform. The Federal Government should be doing the same with telecommunications. 2. What three projects would you like to gain momentum by the end of the year? Mr Wellington 2026 Bicentenary project, surf reef construction project, and the Motorplex construction project Cr Pavlovich Increase the Plantagenet Shire’s offering in residential land development. Initiate the last stage of our swimming pool redevelopment as it’s a big and expensive project. Start to turn soil on our new Wilson Park development for a teenage activity and as a community hub precinct. 3. What three things do you hope will be better in 2023 than 2022? Mr Wellington For anxiety around COVID to continue reducing throughout our community. For the community to be safer by reducing bushfire hazards. To achieve a significant increase in funding for major roads. Cr Pavlovich First that COVID-19 and the impacts to our community will be a distant memory. World peace, however that may be out of our local remit. To start a State road renewal program in the Great Southern. The State highways are rapidly falling into disrepair and the cost to continually patch up is massive. 4. What do you hope to have achieved by year’s end? Mr Wellington Bicentenary — to finalise the comprehensive 2026 Bicentenary plan which is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for our community. This includes seeking funding, increasing awareness of our history, championing reconciliation, developing events (cultural and sporting) and, overarching operational management and stewardship. Road funding — the council will continue to work with the responsible State and Federal government authorities to advance funding requests particularly for the South Coast Highway. Roads are incredibly important to regional communities, connecting us to family, friends and essential services, and for operation of our primary industries. Housing — availability, particularly of homes for rent is a national problem which affects the ability of many businesses to attract workers to our region. The council will continue to work with the responsible State government agencies to endeavour to improve this situation. Cr Pavlovich Personally, to continue to be part of and lead a strong local government which continues to deliver to our community. The community ambience is vital for attracting and retaining people to choose our place to live and we hope to continue work in this area of streetscape, pathways, local artwork just to name a few. 5. What do you hope your community will have achieved by year’s end? Mr Wellington Community is at the heart of everything we do, our role as a council is to provide the services, environment, advocacy and operational excellence to support the ongoing growth and prosperity of our region. My hope for 2023 is that our community continues to work together to embrace change, provide a safe, inclusive and prosperous setting for all residents, families and businesses. I am particularly keen to continue to work with the relevant bodies to further extend educational and business opportunities for young people to stay in our region. Cr Pavlovich We have many new people in Plantagenet, and we hope they will choose to become part of the community and join not-for-profit clubs and groups. Around a third of our community are active volunteers in some capacity which makes Plantagenet so resilient and a great place to live. To invest some time socially is not only healthy for the individual but the returns for the community are immeasurable.