Welcome to the new GMCA Chair
The Alliance rounded off a fantastic 2022/2023 year at its AGM on the 23 November last year. Some 30 reps from our 17 members attended to hear presentations from outgoing Chair Cr Rohan Webb (Mansfield Shire), Sharon Terry (Greater Shepparton), Peter Bain (Murrindindi Shire) and Carole Hammond (GMCA). Our 22/23 Annual Report can be read here.
The Alliance is in a healthy position, and it showed with strong interest in joining the Executive Committee, and for the position of Chair. We are now very pleased to welcome Cr Sam Spinks of Greater Shepparton City Council to the role of Chair of the GMCA and look forward to the 23/24 year under her leadership.
In addition we are very excited to also welcome Narelle Liepa (Mitchell Shire), Sam Niedra (Indigo Shire), Allison McCallum (GB CMA), Peter Bain (Murrindindi Shire), Cr Jack Herry (City of Wangaratta), Cr Sam Spinks (Greater Shepparton), and Cr Sarah Nicholas (Alpine Shire) to our GMCA Executive Committee.
We would like to offer deep thanks to our outgoing office-bearers, Cr Rohan Webb, Sharon Terry, and Elyse Kelly, who have put in so much of their energy, enthusiasm and time to keep the GMCA on-track and thriving.
The AGM attendees heard presentations from Jacob Clifton, General Manager Government Affairs at AusNet Services, and Alastair Parker, CEO of VicGrid. Both spoke to the significant challenges and opportunities of the transition to renewables and its transmission and distribution across Victoria.
Newcomers to GMCA
A quick but very warm welcome to some new Alliance staff who I am sure we will meet virtually (and hopefully in person) over the next few months.
Victorian Greenhouse Alliances update
The VGAs have been busy submitting state and federal advocacy and meeting with State Government executives in the lead up to 2024. Planning meetings have also started for the 2024 VGA Conference.
Two new Executive Officers have commenced - Dean Thomson at the Northern Alliance for Greenhouse Action (NAGA), and an as-yet-to-be-announced CEO of the South East Councils for Climate Change Action (SECCCA) following the resignation of Dominique La Fontaine.
The alliance of Alliances meet on a weekly basis to ensure a coordinated and collaborative approach to projects, advocacy and funding opportunities. If you would like something considered at our more formal bi-monthly meetings (Feb, April, June, Aug, Oct, Dec) please contact me.
2023 was a busy year for climate action advocacy, and you will no doubt hear talk in and out of the media that 2023 was the year that the world "woke up" to climate change. You can find our final submissions on the website here.
For those who are new to GMCA, the process is that once the government or authority seeks feedback, the Alliances will draft a response and initial feedback from the EOs is received before it goes out to each Alliance's membership for feedback. Once feedback and changes are undertaken, it's over to each Alliance Executive Committee for final approval, and we then submit.
Deadlines and dates are important in this scenario, though I try to make it as easy as I can.
It can mean a lot of negotiating for Executive Officers, but is effective. When government agencies receive a considered, well-written document from (I believe) 71 local government organisations, it can make an impact.
Our latest submissions and meetings include:
Seminars & Workshops
VIC BUSINESS RENEWABLES BUYING GROUP UPDATE
Date: Tuesday 16 January 2024
Time: 10am - 11am
rsvp: confirm with Carole who will send your invite
This is for staff and councillors who are involved, or interested in the Buying Group (led by Yarra City Council) - which is essentially a VECO for high energy consuming business in your council municipality. The project is at EOI and investigation stage. This meeting will run through any questions you have, the next business webinar, promotion etc. A pilot of this project has been undertaken and the report can be read here. At this stage only Wangaratta has signed up from the GMCA region, but many more from central Vic, and inner/outer Melbourne have submitted an EOI.
COUNCIL ESD TRAINING IN 2024
The Shared Services Advisor will be meeting with Council contacts throughout January to set priority actions for the new year, including Council ESD training requirements. If you have a topic or issue related to sustainable development you would like considered for a training session or workshop in 2024, please send through your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org. If your council is not part of the SSF shared service but would like to participate in this training please get in touch with your friendly Executive Officer.
Following a successful first year of the of the SSF shared services role, Simon Blackwell has been appointed for a second twelve-month term as ESD Planning Advisor to six GMCA Councils (Alpine Shire, Indigo Shire, Mitchell Shire, Murrindindi Shire, Strathbogie Shire and Wangaratta Shire). The role is funded by the participating councils as well as Dept Transport & Planning, through the Regional Planning Hub. The contract commenced in early December 2023 and will run until late November 2024.
Simon’s role will continue to be focused on implementing the Sustainable Subdivisions Framework (SSF) within participating Councils. The SSF aims to improve the sustainability of new subdivision development through the planning process and increase capacity within Councils to demand, assess and achieve more sustainable communities on the ground. Simon’s second term will also see the inclusion of built form sustainability assessments and advice on relevant applications.
The SSF Phase 1 Trial (24 month) report has been finalised and a copy can be downloaded from the Sustainable Subdivisions page on the CASBE website.
Consultants Mesh Planning and LID are continuing their work on the SSF ‘Next Steps Project’. The project involves a planning and technical review of the SSF and will propose an implementation pathway for adoption of the SSF. Project completion is now expected early 2024. The work should pave the way for an improved SSF and clear next steps for policy implementation. CASBE are the project coordinators and the GMCA Shared Service Advisor, Simon Blackwell, has been heavily involved in consulting with the project team and reviewing draft outputs, to ensure that the feedback and aspirations of GMCA Councils are included in the revised framework.
Following the completion of the Next Steps project, CASBE will look to review the recommendations and make updates to the SSF Tool and supporting resources. This is expected to involve live trialling of the ‘SSF Version 2’ tool on planning applications across the GMCA SSF Councils.
A RESILIENT PUBLIC ESTATE
Resilient Public Estates is a multi-council project identifying council owned and managed public assets vulnerable to projected impacts of climate change. The project will help councils understand how these assets might be made more resilient. A range of data collection and analysis, along with specialist mentoring of staff has been ongoing as part of this project.
The consultant, Spatial Vision, has sought data from member councils for a series of in-depth asset vulnerability case studies. Most of the candidate studies put forward for consideration were flood related, likely reflecting the recent experience of councils. Two have been chosen on the basis of available data, relevance, and diversity of geographic and climate approach:
In addition, Spatial Vision is taking EOIs from GMCA members for a new Climate Change Spatial User Group. Members of the South East Climate Change Councils Alliance have also been invited. This builds on the growing appreciation of the value of integrating reliable climate data and geospatial systems into operations & strategies from our sector. If you are interested in joining and did not get an EOI invite please get in touch with your friendly Executive Officer.
RECHARGING GOULBURN MURRAY
Recharging Goulburn Murray is a project to develop a supplier panel for renewables and energy efficiency technologies. This will form the basis of projects delivered by member councils to households and businesses. A successful panel will give member councils and their communities greater confidence in products that are essential to drive the energy transition.
GMCA has investigated different models, including having a lead council or the Municipal Association of Victoria host the panel. Our preferred model is to use some of the processes and materials developed through the highly successful Solar Savers program. This is hosted by the City of Maroondah, and has already developed its own suppliers panel, choosing a supplier that covers the entire state.
Solar Savers has generously provided GMCA access to its intellectual property, including a customer relationship management database at no cost. GMCA is currently talking to member councils about contributions/ funding for a p/t position based in the region that would oversee the implementation and management of the panel locally, beginning in the 2023-24 or 2024-25 financial year.
An EOI will be forwarded to all members soon. If you have any questions please get in touch with David at email@example.com.
That's all for this update, have a safe and resilient month everyone!