Goulburn volunteers maintaining a community garden or wetlands, lobbying for better protection of endangered waterfowl, raising the alarm about habitat destruction and establishing community solar projects will soon be invited to join a ongoing sustainability committee.
The invitation comes from the Goulburn Mulwaree Council’s Sustainability Task Force.
Goulburn Mayor Peter Walker said the task force’s brief has been completed and its recommendations are being addressed. At the top of their list is creating a standing committee.
“Sustainability is with us forever and will continue to evolve through renewable energy and many other options, whether it’s electric cars, hybrid cars and more charging stations,” he says.
READ ALSO: Upper Lachlan backflips on Goulburn to Crookwell Rail Trail
Cr Walker says many people and companies are pushing individual projects like solar and wind power projects and cleaner waterways.
“We need to attract these people to be on a similar page on the sustainability committee, but not overwhelm the committee with the opinions of one particular group,” he says.
Cr Walker was impressed after hearing knowledgeable high school students speak passionately about sustainability at a recent Goulburn Soroptimists dinner.
We aggregate the most read About Regional articles from the past week and deliver them straight to your inbox every Thursday afternoon. Subscribing is the easiest way to follow, all in one go.
“They were sensational,” says Cr Walker. “We also need the younger generation on this committee.”
Other initiatives under consideration encourage new developments to have solar hot water systems that would attract a government rebate and replace plastic shopping bags with burlap sacks.
The task force suggests employing environmental and sustainability education officers and planting native shrubs and trees in council-owned parks and reserves, including Victoria Park.
“In times of drought, Victoria Park becomes hot and arid; it’s like being in a pen,” says task force member Cr Jason Shepherd.
“It shouldn’t be like this in a town like Goulburn. Such a space in the middle of the city could be amazing,” he says.
Planting grassy areas with native shrubs and trees would create greater species diversity and help build the population of birds and insects, including bees.
READ ALSO: Historic light shines again to guide Goulburn residents home
Cr Jason Shepherd thinks the Goulburn Community Gardens in Goldsmith Street is a good working model on which to base community gardens.
“Turning areas into community gardens has enormous potential for fostering greater social interaction between neighborhoods,” he says.
Goulburn Community Gardens chairman Di Picker says the plots are well used and workshops on composting, grafting and pruning are well supported.
NSW TAFE rent plots and run cultivation and pruning courses and in the warmer months the University of the Third Age run Saturday morning courses.
Cr Shepherd says other local groups could be involved in the sustainability campaign, including indigenous representatives and the Challenge Southern Highlands ‘Growing Abilities’ nursery. The nursery provides supported employment opportunities and choices for people with disabilities and could participate in a voucher system allowing residents to purchase native trees and plants suitable for Goulburn and surrounding areas.
The task force recommended that Goulburn Mulwaree Council join the Cities Power Partnership Programme, Australia’s largest local government climate programme. Candidates are committed to achieving a goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions.
“Membership is free,” says Cr Shepherd. “As long as the board agrees to deliver on five of the partnership pledges.”
Members have access to Australia’s top climate and energy experts.
Albury, Bathurst, Orange, Wagga Wagga and Eurobodalla councils have already joined, leaving Goulburn one of the few councils not yet on the scheme.
The board is evaluating the task force’s recommendations and will release a report in August. Cr Walker expects the appointment of the sustainability committee to happen quickly.