Interview: Mayor of Burwood Council

Mayor John Faker plans to use online maps and 3D models to engage residents.

Mayor John Faker talks about how residents will use virtual 3D models to track infrastructure work. What is your vision for the Municipality of Burwood? My vision for Burwood is that it continues to remain the cosmopolitan hub of Sydney’s inner west region, taking advantage of its strong local economy and infrastructure to provide an ideal place for people to live, work or visit. Located between Sydney and Parramatta CBDs, Burwood is a strategic centre with a bustling business district surrounded by historic leafy villages. Burwood Council aims to provide commercial opportunities and continue to attract businesses to the area while maintaining its unique heritage charm in the surrounding areas. How will technology help? Technology plays a pivotal role in both our provision of service and communication. Council prides itself on being leaders of innovation in the local government sector across Sydney. Mayors photo Burwood is one of the most culturally diverse areas in Sydney, with more than 50 per cent of residents born overseas. Therefore, technology becomes vital in the provision of information, with Council using digital methods of communication such as Facebook to reach a wider audience. Council also partners with local cultural partners including TVB Australia to provide community service announcements in Chinese, with 25 per cent of residents with Chinese ancestry. How will you develop your digital services? Council has expanded its digital services and increased its digital presence on social media. This has enabled customers to have better access to Council, and allows Council to receive feedback from residents immediately. Council has recently implemented an online mapping service which allows residents to view upcoming or current infrastructure works in real time. In addition, Council has implemented a 3D online modelling system for customers to view major developments. Council has also developed apps to assist environment officers in undertaking health inspections of restaurants, cafes and beauty shops across the area, and law enforcement officers when they undertake regulatory inspections. How is council using feedback from citizens? Council undertakes a biannual residents satisfaction survey to gauge the community’s perception towards current and future services and facilities. Council received a satisfaction level of more than 90% from residents in the last two surveys. In addition, Council’s Community Strategic Plan provides a 20-year blueprint for all the actions Council will undertake. This plan is based on extensive feedback from the community on their desires and needs for the area. The plan is then broken down into several programmes including an annual operational plan which includes actions for each financial year. What has been the biggest challenge that the Municipality overcame in 2016? There was a potential legionnaire’s outbreak identified in the Burwood area in May 2016 following reports of a case of legionnaire’s disease from a person who had visited near the area. It prompted Council and NSW Health to undertake emergency testing of all cooling towers in the area. All potential water sources were tested and all results came back negative, with no legionella detected in the area. During this time, Council had to liaise with NSW Health and the media in order to keep the community up to date. What is your top priority for 2017? Council’s top priority will be to continue to deliver its high level of services and initiatives to the community. Of particular interest, is the Enfield Aquatic Centre Master Plan, which will see upgrades to the existing swimming centre with a new indoor children’s pool. What is the biggest area of spending for the council? Council invests extensively in capital works to ensure that local infrastructure and amenities are safe and accessibility to all members of the community. This includes renewing and maintaining local roads, footpaths and parks. Over the past few years, we have developed a new Library & Community Hub, a wetland oasis called Wangal Park, Burwood Park Pavilion, Fitzroy Centre and upgraded existing facilities, including the Enfield Aquatic Centre and Woodstock Centre. If I were to visit Burwood, what one place would you recommend? This is a difficult question as there are many great places to visit. However, I’d recommend visiting the Burwood town centre. You will be greeted by the Burwood Memorial Arch which stands proudly at the front of Burwood Park. From there, you can access anywhere across Sydney with a major train station and bus interchange, providing connectivity.