As one of the highest ranked local government areas of South Australia, the City of Burnside has traditionally enjoyed a wealth of Council-related activities. Louise Miller-Frost, General Manager of Community and Development Services, and Barry Cant, General Manager of Urban Services, spoke with us about various projects undertaken by the Council, their commitment to the community, and the development of a range of strategies.
The City of Burnside is primarily a residential council with some light commercial activity. The affluent area has minimal industrial activity. Because of all that, the Council is heavily invested in providing services for their community. One of the ways to prioritise the projects was actually established after a major natural disaster. Back then, the Council realised the need to track everything, including damages, potential fixes, safe spots, and hazards. Now, they have established an internal way of keeping detailed records and a very pragmatic assessment process.
“We try to have a very planned approach to the work that we do so that we can target those areas which are in most need of refresh, renewal, or maintenance”, says Louise. “We have detailed plans and commissioned assessments and can actually work through, stage by stage, what needs to be done in the right order”.
Louise is responsible for the customer-facing side of operations, covering community services including the community centre, library, swimming pool, planning and development, policy planning, and a range of other endeavours such as animal control and customer service. Being responsible for public health and economic development, she also manages several important facilities for the Council including the Glenunga Community Hub and the George Bolton Swimming Centre Burnside.
Barry’s range of responsibilities is more hands-on. He is responsible for two portfolios which essentially encompass every urban project in the City of Burnside. These include engineering services, operation services, property, open space and recreation. Anything from the delivery of waste management services to capital projects goes through his team. Furthermore, he is also responsible for engineering and infrastructure upgrades as well as maintenance and renewal of Council assets.
The Glenunga Hub – A centre of community activity
“Glenunga Hub is a landmark project for the City of Burnside, having been in the making for many years prior to its actual completion,” says Barry. “A lot of the initial planning with such projects is concerned with community interactions which involves consultations from the area’s residents. The Hub underwent a rigorous planning phase with several designs before they finally landed on the current one.”
The process of finding the right location was similarly rigorous. Barry and his team had identified a selection of buildings which had reached the end of their useful life. They understood that the ageing infrastructure meant that they had to come up with a new way of making use of those assets. There, they saw an opportunity to rebuild them into something new, and better. “At the time, there were a few sporting clubs, a toy library, and other small services scattered into several locations. As such, it was decided that the project would follow a multi-purpose, multi-use approach which would result in better facilities for more of the community,” says Barry.
In this particular example, the facilities were mostly used in the evenings and weekends and were most commonly employed for sport training purposes. “The wider community did not have any real further use of the assets, and the buildings were very rarely occupied during the daytime,” says Barry. “Through a considerable investment by the Council, Glenunga Hub is now widely used both by the sports clubs and the wider community.” The Council, which gained shared management of the facilities by contributing fully to the cost of the project, focused on upgrading both the buildings as well as the open space, resulting in maximum efficiency.
Today, the Glenunga Hub is used for a variety of community events, including children’s birthday celebrations, community programs, and other similar functions. It provides an outreach venue in the west of the council area for educational and language courses, health and fitness classes, special interest clubs, and other programs coordinated by the Council. A number of successful local sports clubs continue to call Glenunga Hub their home.
Upgrading a beloved swimming centre
The George Bolton Swimming Centre Burnside and its refurbishment has also represented a significant undertaking for the Council. “The project commenced roughly the same time as the Glenunga Hub project,” says Barry. “In the initial stages, a detailed condition assessment was carried out. That way, the team had a complete understanding of the condition of all the assets within the facility.” Some of those were approaching 45 years of use and various systems were too old to be useful any longer.
After presenting the Council with several options, it was decided that the aspects of the facility which were most loved and used would be maintained and further enhanced. The outdoor, park setting was one of the Centre’s strongest points, and the City of Burnside wanted to ensure that through the project, the Centre lost none if its charm. “As the facility has traditionally provided a good mix between recreation and lap swimming, the Council did not want to ruin its character,” says Barry. “Turning it into a wave pool to attract only casual attendees, for instance, was out of the question. Instead, it had to be viable for swimming teams too.”
The Centre underwent a major refurbishment, with all new plant and pool infrastructure installed and the main pool remodelled to incorporate a wet deck edge. An extra lane was added to the configuration to allow for competition swimming (taking it to 8 lanes), and an access ramp was built to allow for equitable entry for those with a disability or with poor mobility. .A new playground with new equipment was also added. All three pools were retiled, and there were significant upgrades to the main buildings, kiosk, café, and other areas. Overall, the project cost approximately $5 million. “Even though the pool is usually open for 6-7 months, the team decided to close it early and open it late so that they would have time to work on the upgrade during a period of 9 months,” says Barry.
Improving sports facilities throughout Burnside
Sports are vital to the community of the City of Burnside and the Council is committed to maintaining and upgrading the facilities whenever possible.
The Council recently developed and adopted the Sport and Recreation Strategy to provide long term planning for Council’s contribution to the community’s future active and passive recreational pursuits. “It is also to ensure that the City of Burnside is able to meet the minimum needs of our community in a socially, environmentally and financially sustainable and responsible manner,” says Barry.
“The Strategy allows Council to plan for future service provision, as well as be able to consider opportunities as they arise in a strategic, regional and holistic manner.”
The City of Burnside Strategic Community Plan ‘Be the Future of Burnside 2012-2025’ sets out a desired outcome for sport and recreation services in the City. This desired outcome is to deliver a range of fit for purpose sport and recreational opportunities and facilities that foster healthy lifestyle pursuits.
Council’s approach to deliver this desired outcome is to:
- Ensure public spaces meet the future needs of our community and provide for a variety of vibrant and inspirational opportunities, encouraging participation by the community; and
- Create and facilitate access to diverse sustainable leisure, recreation and sporting facilities and programs that are safe for people of all ages and abilities.
The City of Burnside is committed to providing fit-for-purpose sport and recreation facilities to deliver its strategic community plan desired outcomes. Council acknowledges that participation in community sport and recreation activities is fundamental to our residents’ social well-being and not only provides enjoyment but produces health, physical, mental, social and economic benefits for our community.
The Strategy allows Council to plan for future service provision, as well as be able to consider opportunities as they arise in a strategic, regional and holistic manner.
Council audits all if its main sporting and recreational infrastructure including sports fields lighting, playing surfaces and recreational playgrounds facilities in order to check which of them were not up to code or not adequate for their purposes. Long term improvement and upgrade plans have been developed to accommodate the future management and provision of Council’s recreational assets.
Ensuring a solid future for infrastructure and growth
The urban planning team has a long and successful history of construction and engineering in the City of Burnside, owing to strong strategic plans.
“The next step in infrastructure and growth is really very important,” says Barry. “Especially with our build properties, much like other Councils, we have a number of properties which are significantly ageing. We are getting to the point in time where those buildings will have to either be replaced or significantly enhanced to ensure that they are safe and suitable for their purpose”, says Barry.
The purpose of an asset management plan is to help an organisation manage their infrastructure and other assets to an agreed standard of service. The City of Burnside currently has four Asset Management Plans covering the following categories: Transport assets, Stormwater assets, Open Space assets, and Building assets.
The objective of infrastructure asset management is to ensure that assets provide their required levels of services in the most cost-effective manner to cater for both present and future customers.
The building Asset Management plans focus on the management of the City of Burnside’s building assets, which includes community, utility, amenity, sport, heritage, special and business buildings. This plan specifies the requirements for effective management of this asset group and the corresponding financial implications.
This plan is reviewed annually, with a formal update completed every 4 years. Effective asset management of the City of Burnside’s building assets will contribute towards achievement of the following strategic objectives:
- Fit for purpose and cost-effective infrastructure that meets community needs.
- A financially sound Council that is accountable, responsible and sustainable.
- Conservation and enhancement of the historic character of the City.
The contribution towards achievement of theses strategic goals and asset management objectives will be achieved by:
- Stakeholder consultation to establish and confirm service standards.
- A regular program of inspections and monitoring activities to assess asset condition and performance.
- Application of a systematic analysis to prioritise renewals and establish the most cost effective works programs.
- Continuously reviewing and improving the quality of Asset Management practices.
Talking about the specific enhancements that will be made to those facilities, Barry explained the idea of having a single facility for various different uses as a more financially responsible approach which is also easier to maintain.
“We have to strategically assess and manage how and where we invest those funds to ensure that the services and the facilities that are provided are appropriate for what the community needs now and looking forward. That’s when we can look at those multi-purpose/multi-use types of facilities instead of single-purpose/single-use to ensure that more people and more groups of services are provided from fewer facilities. It maximizes Council’s investments as it is easier to manage and provide one facility instead of five,” Barry explains.
Aside from all that, the Council will also continue to work closely on its assets and ascertain what needs to be upgraded and when. The storm water infrastructure capabilities, for instance, will have to be upgraded in the next couple of years. Being able to undertake all those projects and keep costs for repairs at a minimum is particularly important for the Council. With their combined expertise, however, the various teams will continue to improve the lives of the community both in the forefront and the background.
AT A GLANCE
WHO: City of Burnside
WHAT: Local government area of more than 44,000 residents bordering Adelaide
WHERE: Civic Centre, 401 Greenhill Road, Tusmore SA 5065