Stephen Yarwood has begun his pitch for a re-election as Lord Mayor of Adelaide by outlining a platform of technology, trees and transport.
Yarwood said Adelaide could claim title of Australia’s ‘Silicon City’ by embracing high-tech car parks, free wifi and young entrepreneurs.
“There is no city in Australia that has claimed the mantle as being the silicon city,” he told InDaily. “We now have the best wifi network of any city in Australia [and] 50 per cent of the daily users of our CBD are under the age of 30.
“How we use that to attract start-up businesses, to attract global investment in our city [and] to generate new jobs is absolutely paramount.”
He said that the council elections – which will be run in October/November – would be “a debate about old Adelaide versus new Adelaide”.
Smart car parks, bike lanes and Frome Street
Yarwood said he would soon push for on-street trials of ‘smart’ parking technology in the CBD, supported by Adelaide’s wifi network.
These ‘smart’ carparks would include embedded sensors and camera systems to make it easier for commuters to find a car park and help authorities turn over car parks located near small businesses.
He told InDaily the concept was “an example of the fact that I’m not anti-car”.
Area Councillor Mark Hamilton is expected to challenge Yarwood for the position of Lord Mayor, and begs to differ.
Last week, Hamilton accused Yarwood of being “anti-car” and said he would push for bike lanes – including the under-construction separated lanes on Frome Street – to be scaled back across the city.
Yarwood said any prospective opponent would only create more congestion, not less, by allowing more space for cars over bicycles.
“Providing a single form of transport – i.e. cars – will only create a mono-culture of transport that will, in turn, induce more vehicles, which will then induce traffic congestion.”
Read David Washington’s analysis of the Frome Street debate here.
Yarwood said a mix of bicycles, cars and public transport was the only way to secure the efficient movement of people in and out of the city each day.
“This is an allocation of seven per cent of our road space for five per cent of commuters who choose to ride their bicycle,” he said.
“We have a choice between creating an unpleasant, car-congested city in the future … or a cosmopolitan city where more people want to spent more time, because it is a pleasant environment.”
Yarwood’s vision for Adelaide as a ‘cosmopolitan city’ includes the continuation of a large tree-planting program across the CBD, which he said would be one of the main agenda items for his next term.
“Gawler Place, Grenfell Street, Pirie, Waymouth … these are all destinations that still need significant plantings of trees and I really want it to be a hallmark of my second term if I’m elected,” he said.
Yarwood’s re-election campaign will undoubtedly see him continue to fight off suggestions the council had spent too much money on big-ticket items such as the upgrade of Victoria Square and Rundle Mall.
But Yarwood rejected the criticism outright.
“Council’s current debt is around 40 million dollars with an income of around 160 million dollars a year,” he said.
“If any household was in that financial position, they would have a grin from ear to ear.
“That level of debt is ultra-conservative.”
Yarwood said that before its upgrade, Victoria Square was “a national disgrace”.
“The current council believed that it was important to invest in Stage 1 to prove to other levels of government that there was a demand,” he said.
He said the upgrade had been a success, and that, “we will be using that to lobby both state and federal governments to complete stages 2 and 3”.
The Lord Mayor said that he was “absolutely committed to the transformation of Victoria Square” into a large green space, which he said would attract increased development and residential investment around the square.
Despite the commitment, Yarwood said that he doesn’t believe that “any candidate for lord mayor that promises to deliver projects is acknowledging the complexity of the role”.
“The Lord Mayor isn’t like a Premier,” he said. “He doesn’t select his cabinet and he can’t make executive decisions.”
Securing the legacy
If Stephen Yarwood is re-elected, he will continue to have an influence on the 25 year plan for the City of Adelaide – due to be signed off by the council next year.
“That vision will inform future budgets, not only of the next council, but councils into the future, and I think getting that vision right and providing that leadership is the most important thing that I can do,” he said.
“What I’m asking people to do is vote for a vision.
“I love Adelaide. I genuinely care about its future and believe that this current council has been very successful in building partnerships and collaboration and I want to continue that work.”
A bad week for J.F.K.
Incidentally, it’s been a bad week for John F. Kennedy’s famous edict – “ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country”.
Following PM Tony Abbott’s plea that the public should consider the upcoming federal budget as “not what’s happening to me, but what’s happening to us,” Yarwood offered InDaily his own version:
“This is not really about what the council is doing to make the city a great place; it’s what the council is doing to support everyone to make Adelaide a great destination.”
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