BASS Coast Mayor Cr Brett Tessari sees a renewed confidence in the local economy, pride in the community and unity within the shire.
He is proud of what the current Bass Coast Shire Council has accomplished and looking forward to what the next council will achieve.
Spending the past two years as Mayor and the two before that as Deputy Mayor, Cr Tessari said he was taking nothing for granted.
“This is the most difficult and satisfying job I’ve ever done. No question,” he said.
Having lived in Wonthaggi all his life, Cr Tessari said he was prompted to stand for the council in 2016 by a feeling that local pride and morale were slipping.
“The first year in council is spent wondering what the hell is going on.
“The second year you know your colleagues and how the system works, that’s when you start to achieve things.”
Cr Tessari paid credit to the previous council for beginning the task of turning around the shire’s finances.
“They copped a lot of flak, but they put us in a position where we can go to government with shovel-ready projects and say we can contribute our share.”
He said it wasn’t just the infrastructure spending that had changed morale.
“The adoption of a climate action plan for Bass Coast this year was a response to community action, with more than 1000 residents petitioning the council.
“We’re aiming for zero carbon emissions by 2030 and we have a plan to get there.
“With the local tourism economy devastated by the COVID crisis, the council has allocated almost $1 million to help local businesses and community groups.”
Bass Coast’s future
Cr Tessari said the council would play a big part in rebuilding the local economy by planning for a range of projects, large and small, to attract state and federal stimulus funding.
He said the tourism sector would be transformed by the state government’s Yallock-Bulluk Marine and Coastal Park trail and the dinosaur trail between San Remo and Inverloch.
Work is already underway for the dinosaur trail after the shire allocated $250,000 in its 2020-21 budget to complete the master plan.
“Put all those together and suddenly the shire has the combination of walking and biking trails, Indigenous and natural heritage, and educational and cultural destinations we need to attract long-stay visitors all-year round.”
Coastal erosion remained a major challenge for the next term, he said. While council would play its part, a long-term response would depend on action by state and federal governments.
Cr Tessari also wants the council to address homelessness in the shire.
“While it’s not as obvious as it is in the Melbourne CBD, we also have rough sleepers and many families in insecure housing.
“The council is working to identify surplus council and Crown land that could be used for social and emergency housing.”
If re-elected, Cr Tessari is looking forward to working on the redevelopment of the former Wonthaggi Secondary College senior campus in McBride Avenue.
As a proud ex-pupil of the college, he’s excited by the potential.
“Perhaps a library, a regional art gallery. We’ll be going to the community for ideas. It’s going to be so exciting, a generational project,” he said.
Challenges and opportunities lie ahead and he hopes to be part of the team that tackles them.