How do you use technology/policy to improve citizens’ lives?

The City of Sydney provides essential local services such as libraries, street cleansing, maintaining roads, assessing development applications, collecting waste and recycling, maintaining parks, playgrounds and gardens, sports venues and community centres. The City is also responsible for health policy, regulations and standards, and monitors food safety and public and environmental health across the local area.

Taking action on climate change is the most crucial component of the City’s long-term strategy, Sustainable Sydney 2030. Innovative technology is helping us reduce our environmental impact, demonstrated in two significant projects.

We’ve built one of Australia’s largest urban stormwater recycling facilities, working with water utility providers Flow Systems. This facility treats 900,000 litres of stormwater every day, or 320 million litres per year, which is then used in washing machines, to flush toilets and to water parks and gardens. Precious drinking water is being saved, and water bills will be cut for residents and businesses, which is a win for our community and the environment.

With transmission provider Transgrid, the City installed an industrial scale Tesla battery at our Alexandra Canal depot. This the first project in New South Wales to combine solar with large-scale batteries similar to Tesla’s massive battery unit in South Australia. The battery is powered by over 1600 solar panels and can store up to 500 kilowatt hours of electricity – enough to power 50 homes. The system will reduce our carbon emissions by 600 tonnes every year.

What has been the most exciting thing that you worked on in 2018?

I am committed to innovative design excellence. 2018 has been an exciting year that has seen the completion of three significant City projects that demonstrate our determination to provide high quality community facilities in terms of design as well as function.

Green Square Library and Plaza: In 2012, the City’s design competition was won by a team of young Sydney architects, Stewart Hollenstein and Stewart Architecture. The bold and exciting design, mostly underground, reimagines the traditional library, combining a range of buildings with a generous plaza to provide a rich variety of spaces for reading, play, study, contemplation and people-watching.

Harold Park: 3.8 hectares of new parklands with a custom-built playground, barbecues, tables, and cycling and walking paths. It also includes an extensive stormwater harvesting and treatment scheme with two underground tanks for park irrigation, and the community hall, located on level 1 within the Tramsheds complex, is an accessible, sustainable and multi-purpose community venue that preserves the heritage significance of the site.

Green Square Community and Cultural Precinct: the redevelopment of this precinct has given new life to the heritage listed buildings of the former South Sydney Hospital. It includes the repurposing of the former nurses’ quarters as the Joynton Avenue Creative Centre; conversion of the former pathology building into a men’s and women’s shed given the Aboriginal name of the Banga Community Shed; reworking of the former outpatient building to create the Waranara Early Education Centre for children from six weeks to six years; and Matron Ruby Grant Park named for the former head of nursing and incorporates indigenous plantings; a dense urban tree canopy, a fountain, dune landforms and community gardens.

What are your priorities for 2019?

One of my main priorities for 2019, in addition to leading the City’s action on climate change, will be to proceed with another community-wide consultation to develop a new long term strategic plan, looking out to 2050, informed by research and the best possible technical advice.

The framework used for our Sustainable Sydney 2030 strategy won’t change. It has helped deliver great achievements and has been used by other cities as a model for developing their own plans.

The new plan will include our original 2030 framework and targets, while including new targets for the decades to 2050. The targets will be informed by an extensive consultation programme and input from experts. Working out what Sydney will look like in 2050 must come from our community residents, business, workers, visitors, students and children.

It must be informed by the aspirations of our community, by the most thorough research and through real collaboration with business and other levels of government.

It’s what we did in developing Sustainable Sydney 2030 and the results show what can be achieved with good governance, long term vision and sustained, ethical leadership. I am proud of our work so far, and I’m looking forward to developing Sustainable Sydney 2050 with the community.