Mayor Keane reflects on ‘bonus year’ achievements

Mayor Yvonne Keane
Mayor Yvonne Keane

Mayor of the Hills Shire, Councillor Yvonne Keane has described her ‘bonus year’ as Mayor as one of the most incredible experiences of her life, furnishing her with opportunities to create real change and add value to the community she loves.

Leading Council’s park consultation series, delivering the Shire’s first learn-to-ride facilities, opening vibrant new playspaces and heading up community celebrations at Bella Vista Farm have topped her list of achievements for her term as mayor.

“I’ve called this Council’s bonus year, because I was elected Mayor in our bonus fifth year as a Council after the regular four-year term was extended as part of the amalgamation process,” she said.

“Looking back, it’s hard to believe the incredible things that can actually be achieved in 12 months. I’m so proud of the work Council has done over the past year to ensure our community continues to have an enviable and aspirational quality of life.

“No-one is an island, and I would like to recognise the wonderful support of Councillors, staff and the General Manager on this journey.”

Mayor Keane cites one of her greatest achievements has been leading the Transitional Housing Policy Framework.

“This new policy is a breakthrough in the way we can supply desperately needed transitional housing – it simply makes perfect sense and is instantly achievable,” Mayor Keane said.

“We are quite simply the very first Council in NSW to investigate the provision of transitional housing as part of new residential developments – creating safe temporary accommodation for the most vulnerable in our society.

“I have no doubt that this policy will make history and ultimately change lives.”

Mayor Keane said nearly $1 billion in services and assets had been delivered for the community over the five-year term of Council.

“The arrival of the Sydney Metro Northwest is already transforming the way we live and during my term as Mayor, a key goal has been to ensure we keep up with growth and continue to provide the lifestyle residents know and enjoy,” Mayor Keane said.

“I am so proud to be part of a Council who has secured a landmark agreement with the NSW Department of Planning that will see at least 20 per cent of dwellings built around railway hubs have at least three or more bedrooms for families – our main demographic,” she said.

“And I’ve worked especially hard to make sure our new release areas are ready to serve new residents, fast-tracking projects including open space in North Kellyville and Balmoral Road.”

Mayor Keane said a key consideration was addressing the real shortage of sporting fields.

“I’ve had the opportunity to oversee construction commence on new playing fields at Arnold Avenue and Caddies Creek,” Mayor Keane said.

“As well, work began on new synthetic fields at Bernie Mullane Reserve which will provide opportunities for all-weather play – a first for The Hills and a game-changer for local clubs.

“And it made perfect sense to push ahead with an overarching partnership arrangement with the Department of Education that will allow school fields to be made available for community use outside of school hours. I am so proud to have secured this ground-breaking partnership.”

Improved community consultation has been high on the priority list for Mayor Keane.

“People constantly tell me how great it is to raise a family in The Hills – and it’s been incredibly rewarding to work with families during my pop-up park consultation sessions at Oxlade Reserve, Bella Vista Farm, Bernie Mullane Reserve and Heritage Park to discover ways we can better serve them,” Mayor Keane said.

“The creation of the spectacular all-inclusive Livvi’s Place playground – designed in close consultation with children, people with disabilities and their families, carers and schools – is a jewel in my Mayoral term that I will carry with me forever,” she said.

“And I loved every minute of immersing myself in community activities, from reading ‘big books’ to toddlers at library story times, to meeting seniors groups at Hills Community Care and joining the children at Council’s childcare centres in their activities.

“It was also an enormous privilege to welcome 964 Hills residents as new Australian citizens across 10 citizenship ceremonies.

“And in terms of adding to the vibrancy of our community, announcing our first-ever stellar New Year’s Eve celebration at Bella Vista Farm – with Ian Moss headlining – is the icing on the cake for my term as Mayor, and an event that I know families will get so much value from,” she said.

Mayor Keane said Council continues to improve the network of paths, roads and walking trails, ensuring residents enjoyed better connectivity throughout the Shire.

“I met with our local running group recently to open the $2.8 million Brodrick Boulevard Bridge that has dramatically improved traffic flow within the Balmoral Road release area, Mayor Keane said.

“As well, the Deputy Mayor and I – along with the full support of our state and federal members – were successful in finally securing a commitment from the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) to get the Glenhaven Road intersection upgraded as soon as possible.

“And in terms of visionary infrastructure, I am delighted to have had $1 million dedicated to planning the future Showground precinct – this will become a place alive with activity day and night, serving us in ways we can only imagine now.”

Mayor Keane said The Hills Shire Council’s financial position remained strong, debt free and fit for the future under her leadership.

“Thanks to sound decision making, Council has been able to move ourselves into an enviable position financially, despite the challenges that come with rapid growth,” Mayor Keane said.

“And while we were disappointed that The Hills suburbs below the M2 became part of the larger City of Parramatta Council, we are pleased to have largely remained previous form, following the NSW Government’s proclamation on Council boundaries,” she said.

“Serving as the Mayor of this great Shire has been the most extraordinary privilege of my life and I am so grateful for the opportunity. It has afforded me enormous personal and professional development and I have tried to work hard to make every single day count. I owe a great debt to my husband Anthony, my children Asher and Saskia, as well as my family and friends for supporting me, unwaveringly, along this journey.

“I am proud beyond measure to be handing over the Mayoral chains with Council in a phenomenal position, well resourced and poised to deliver all that our community needs for a bright and vibrant future.”