Sustainability, housing, top list for western Sydney councils

Sustainability measures and affordable housing are among a list of priorities for Western Sydney’s councils over the next four years, their peak body says.

Barry Calvert

Leaders of the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) representing Blacktown, Blue Mountains, Hawkesbury , Liverpool and Cumberland cities met last month at a Special Strategy Planning and Priorities Workshop to set the strategic agenda for 2022–2026.

Priorities include tackling urban heat, reducing emissions, increasing energy efficiency and improving resource recovery.

Also on the list is housing, jobs, transport, infrastructure and increased financial resilience for councils.

WSROC President Barry Calvert says the priority list will ensure that Western Sydney councils can collectively tackle issues crucial to the region.

“I have great confidence that by working together, local government can make excellent headway with the many critical issues confronting our communities,” he said.

Preparing for heatwaves

It comes after WSROC in June called for an urgent review of heatwave planning with the release of WSROC’s Heat Smart Resilience Framework.

During severe heatwaves, people in Greater Sydney have experienced as much as a 13 per cent increase in mortality according to research, Cr Calvert says.

“People in Sydney’s Western Suburbs are dying because authorities don’t take heatwaves as seriously as other natural hazards,” he said.

The heat smart framework outlines 25 recommendations including:

  • Measuring heat impacts
  • Reducing urban heat via the planning system
  • Building homes and infrastructure to function in a hotter climate
  • Heatwave planning and preparedness campaigns
  • Practical assistance for at-risk communities including free heat refuges, community transport, check-ins for vulnerable individuals, and energy rebates

Affordable housing

Affordable housing emerged as another key issue at the strategic planning workshop, Cr Calvert said.

“A key outcome of the workshop was a determination to call on the major political parties to clarify their policies on both social housing and affordable housing,” he said.

“This is especially important for more vulnerable members of our communities, including those on low incomes, recently arrived migrants and refugees, single parents, and others.”

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