Western Sydney councils focus of COVID study

Four western Sydney Councils are the subject of what’s being described as a landmark research project into the impact of COVID-19.

The Future Directions project focuses on the socio-economic impact on the local government areas that make up Sydney’s Central City District – Blacktown City Council, Cumberland City Council, The Hills Shire Council, and City of Parramatta Council.

The Western Sydney University study will examine socio-economic ‘influencers’ affecting the district over the next ten years.

These include the future policy and regulatory environment, immigration, household and business debt level, employment, housing, people movement, remote working and demand for commercial office space.

Blacktown City Mayor, Tony Bleasdale estimates the pandemic will cost Council more than $24 million in the 18 months to October 2021.

Having research-based planning will help Sydney’s Central City district councils steer their communities through a post- COVID-19 environment, he says.

“As the world grapples with the ongoing effects of the coronavirus, there is strong evidence that damage caused by the pandemic will ripple through the national and state economies and have its greatest impact at the local level,” he said.

Cumberland City Mayor Steve Christou said the research will arm councils with the information they need to deliver programs benefiting businesses and residents of the area. 

“The Central City district is very important economically to NSW and we’ll be the fastest growing district over the next 20 years,” he said.

 “We will respond decisively and innovatively together to achieve the desired socioeconomic outcomes for our region.”

The Hills Shire Mayor, Dr Michelle Byrne, said the project would shed light on the true impact COVID has had, City of Parramatta Lord Mayor Bob Dwyer, welcomed it as a chance to help local communities emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever.

Westpac is sponsoring the project, which will be carried out in partnership with the Australian Catholic University.

The final report will delivered by February 2021.

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