Tim Baxter: Greens candidate for Canal Ward

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Port Phillip is my favourite place in Australia (haven’t checked the whole world yet!) and it’s where I decided to settle down with my family to live.  Over the 10 years that I’ve lived in Port Phillip I’ve worked throughout the municipality from South Melbourne to Fitzroy Street. I was married to my wife in the St Kilda Botanic Gardens, and we take our son to the parks and cafes throughout Balaclava and Elwood, as well as the wonderful Elwood Toy Library. My son goes to childcare in Elwood. As a local I care deeply about the kind of community that we live, work and relax in.

While local government might not always steal the flashy headlines, it is the level of government that most closely impacts on people’s everyday lives. Local government provides for things our family uses, like maintaining our parks and libraries. Council helps set the tone for the way community members treat each other and the environment that supports them.

A well-functioning Council listens to the community and acts in its best interests. It consults with individuals, families, businesses and artists and ensures that local structures are in place to support the contributions that they make to the social fabric and identify of our area.

There is so much to love about our area and our community. The “villages” we visit on Sundays (Balaclava Village, Elwood Village and Ripponlea Village), the beaches in summer, or the parks that we regularly enjoy with our family and friends. We all recognise that change is inevitable; however council must ensure that it represents positive change. That valuable open space should remain off limits to developers without explanation. That public transport solutions including increased bike and walking paths will not only reduce congestion, but will make us healthier.

Whilst working as a community organiser in our area, I’ve had thousands of conversations with residents, and the same issues are consistently raised. Concerns over flooding in Elwood, reckless development that disregards existing environmental and heritage amenity, lack of affordable access to childcare, insufficient help to harness renewable energy, and inadequate affordable housing options. These are the kinds of issues that council can improve, and I’m keen to get started tackling them.

Action is necessary to save our suburbs from the threat of flooding and sea level rise, and it will take more than one council to do it. People need council to advocate for strong action from neighbouring councils and the Victorian Government to stem the tide, figuratively and literally.

Housing affordability and homelessness is a huge issue facing many individuals and families in Port Phillip. Council has a long and proud history of supporting housing for those in need, but homelessness and rough sleeping is on the rise, and we need to find more ways to help those that need it most.

Port Phillip can go from being a follower, to a leader in rooftop solar in the state, but this will take leadership. The Greens want to help ratepayers and renters do their bit to reduce emissions and enjoy the cost savings that follow.

I believe that the Greens hold the answer to the challenges I’ve outlined and the vision to create a cleaner, greener and healthier Port Phillip. These are some of my priorities for Council, and with your support on 22 October, I look forward to tackling them. Please get in touch if you’d like to learn more http://greens.org.au/candidate/vic/tim-baxter

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