MOUNT Gambier City Council will tonight consider a multi-pronged plan to support the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Elected members and senior council staff met last week to develop an action plan targeting three central pillars – the city’s economy, its people and the recovery phase.
A separate response team comprehensively reviewed council’s budget to identify potential savings to combat the widespread impact of the coronavirus.
It comes as Mount Gambier Mayor Lynette Martin issued a fresh warning to members of the community, urging them to cease all non-essential travel.
“I have heard there is still a lot of non-essential travel taking place and I hope the border control can get on top of the issue,” Ms Martin said.
“At the end of the day though it is up to each and every one of us to take responsibility for our own actions during these times.”
Ms Martin made a heartfelt plea for people to particularly reconsider their travel plans across the Limestone Coast over the Easter period, with Robe District Council already actively discouraging visitors from entering its jurisdiction.
“Obviously Easter is very much a concern as we have historically had a lot of visitors to Mount Gambier over that weekend,” Ms Martin said.
“Residents and people from outside the community should not be moving around the region over Easter because the last thing we want to see is an infection spike afterwards.”
Limestone Coast Local Government Association president Erika Vickery echoed Ms Martin’s sentiment.
“The bottom line message from the Prime Minister is to stay at home and we wholeheartedly support that position,” Ms Vickery said.
“Once this crisis is all over we will welcome visitors to the Limestone Coast with open arms again.”
During this unprecedented period of uncertainty, Ms Martin said the social and economic well-being of the community was council’s top priority.
“Our community is hurting; our businesses are facing unprecedented challenges and our way of life has changed dramatically,” Ms Martin said.
“It is heartbreaking to see so many of our businesses suffer and people out of work.
“Council is fully prepared to reassess its expenditure and recalibrate its budget to keep our people safe, our economy strong and our community connected.”
Investment in jobs and skills development, convening a community leaders’ roundtable and fostering social connectedness are among the suite of initiatives.
Council will also consider committing significant resources and rolling out additional infrastructure-related activity to stimulate the local economy.
The recovery stage includes investment in community well-being, re-booting the economy and the re-activation of spaces.
Council has established two rapid response teams, comprising elected members and senior staff, to develop and drive major initiatives.
“We are conscious of the economic hardship and the impact social isolation will have on people,” Ms Martin said.
“This pain affects our friends and families, neighbours and colleagues; it is personal for all of us.”
Amid sweeping legislative changes giving Local Government greater flexibility, council will meet digitally three times a week to discuss urgent matters.
“It is imperative council continues providing essential services. Another important role for council is to reinforce the government’s advice on personal hygiene and social distancing,” Ms Martin said.
“It is also our responsibility to invest heavily in the well-being of our community, now more than ever.”
Council will also establish an online platform to canvass community views, capture stories and seek feedback.