Bec Thomas, the Mayor of Glenorchy City Council, is spearheading the development of a city close to her heart.
A VIBRANT COMMUNITY HUB
“I’m Glenorchy born and bred, and I’ve lived here all 38 years of my life.”
Bec Thomas lives and breathes Glenorchy, the fourth largest city in the Australian island state of Tasmania and home to almost 48,000 people.
Experienced at all three levels of government in both an administrative and strategic capacity, Thomas has been the elected Mayor of Glenorchy City Council since June 2021, bringing steady and purposeful leadership to the city she loves.
“As Mayor, I am driven to make our municipality the best it can be, particularly by improving health and economic outcomes. I love Glenorchy, I’m proud to be from here, and I care about its people,” Thomas proclaims.
STRENGTH IN DIVERSITY
Only seven kilometres north of the Tasmanian capital, Hobart, Glenorchy is renowned for its beautiful parks, stunning nature reserves, tourist attractions, walking and mountain biking trails, plus the spectacular views of Mount Wellington.
In addition to being the industrial hub of Hobart, the city is varied and diverse, from the lively central business districts (CBD) of Moonah and Glenorchy, to the innovation precinct of Prince of Wales Bay, the tranquil shores of the River Derwent and the rolling foothills of Mount Wellington.
Much like its geography, the population of Glenorchy also comprises a diverse array of demographics, with more than 12 percent born overseas and almost a tenth of households speaking a language other than English.
“Glenorchy embraces diversity and different cultures, and we celebrate a community in which everyone is accepted no matter what their background is,” affirms Thomas.
“We also celebrate our arts, with the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) and the Moonah Arts Centre exhibiting arts produced both locally and internationally.”
Indeed, Glenorchy entertains an emerging and thriving cultural arts scene, attracting over 450,000 visitors a year to MONA alone. The recently refurbished MyState Bank Arena, home to the Tasmania Jack Jumpers Basketball Team, also provides a state-of-the-art events and sporting facility for locals and visitors.
Meanwhile, Glenorchy plays host to an exciting business community that accommodates both light and heavy industry as well as several thriving retail and commercial precincts, and is one of three bustling CBDs under the local governance of Glenorchy City Council.
“Glenorchy CBD is a service hub where you can pay your rates, get grocery shopping done and sit in the sun before a doctor’s appointment,” Thomas says.
“Then we have the funky, multicultural CBD of Moonah where you can grab a latte or eat a samosa whilst checking out the local art, and finally the Claremont CBD, where you can catch up with friends for coffee and cake before heading to the foreshore for a stroll.”
With a strong manufacturing base, an industrious and diversified economy, and a development pipeline promising thousands of jobs in the next decade, there are plenty of opportunities in Glenorchy.
Just a 15-minute drive from Hobart and benefitting from cheaper commercial and residential prices, it also represents an attractive opportunity for investors and first-time buyers.
“Housing is more affordable here than in Hobart, and there are a range of accommodation options including apartments closer to the CBDs, family homes in the suburbs and rural acreages. There’s something here to suit every individual and family,” elaborates Thomas.
GREATER GLENORCHY PLAN
Glenorchy City Council has a clear vision for the area, one that emanates pride, culture, community spirit and exciting new opportunities.
“To achieve our vision, we need to understand who we are and what our story is. We need to share that story to encourage people to visit, live and work here,” outlines Thomas.
In 2020, Glenorchy City Council interviewed 100 residents to better understand what people love about Glenorchy, Moonah and Claremont through an engagement campaign called ‘Beyond the Curtain’.
The findings of the ‘Beyond the Curtain’ campaign helped Glenorchy City Council to develop future plans for the three cities, to ensure they reflect their respective identities and stories.
These future plans were formalised under the Greater Glenorchy Plan, endorsed by Glenorchy City Council in February 2021, to formulate a vision and precinct plan for each CBD that will guide future development up until 2040.
“Each precinct plan seeks to create places for people that feel welcoming and reflect who we are; provide connections for pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles; support job creation, economic growth and increased density; and promote a greener, innovative Glenorchy,” Thomas details.
“We are now implementing these precinct plans, putting mechanisms and processes in place to enable decisionmakers to create the future visions our community has identified.”
Glenorchy City Council is also placemaking to create active hubs that attract residents of all ages, cultures, incomes and aspirations. As such, it is working to increase the attractiveness of its activity centres, create investment opportunities, and encourage people to come and spend time in Glenorchy.
“To achieve our vision, we need to understand who we are and what our story is. We need to share that story to encourage people to visit, live and work here”Bec Thomas, Mayor, Glenorchy City Council
SUPPORTING THE COMMUNITY
Since 2011, Glenorchy’s unemployment rate has remained around three percent higher than the Tasmanian average.
There is a disproportionately high dependency on government benefits in the city, and COVID-19 has only exacerbated unemployment in Glenorchy as almost 1,800 jobs succumbed to the pandemic.
“We are tackling unemployment by growing our economy and creating jobs, through an economic development strategy and the facilitation of our $1.9 billion development pipeline, as well as helping local people to access local jobs created through our Jobs Hub,” affirms Thomas.
The Jobs Hub will provide local people with the training and skills required to take up nearly 1,500 vacancies that the $1.9 billion development pipeline will bring.
Delivered by STEPS, a specialist employment service provider, the Jobs Hub is a community-led initiative that supports both jobseekers and employers to increase the employment of people out of work. It focuses on those that experience barriers to work, including skills gaps and literacy and numeracy difficulties, as well as migrants, people with disabilities, and young adults.
“The Jobs Hub model provides one-on-one coaching to help jobseekers to secure a local job,” Thomas explains.
“Jobs Coaches at the Hub each specialise in our city’s key employment sectors to support local people to find jobs and training opportunities in the likes of manufacturing, construction, tourism, hospitality, retail, healthcare and social services.”
With the help of a $1.3 million grant from the Tasmanian government, the Jobs Hub was established and developed by Glenorchy City Council together with 33 local employers, seven schools, 10 industry organisations and 19 community and social support institutions.
It also profiles and celebrates the successes of local jobseekers, as well as local career opportunities, through the Jobs Champions programme.
To complement the $1.9 billion development pipeline, Glenorchy City Council is driving further growth in the local economy through the Glenorchy Economic Development Strategy.
It was created in late 2019 by businesses, governments, educators, not-for-profits and investors, who all came together to come up with actions to grow the city’s economy.
“The Glenorchy Economic Development Strategy includes five objectives and 50 actions, to create jobs for our people and make our city more active and liveable,” says Thomas. “Southern Tasmania’s economy is growing, and this strategy maps out how we can harness that growth.”
Soon after in April 2020, Glenorchy City Council launched Activity City, an online database that showcases local businesses making, trading and providing services in Glenorchy, and encourages residents to buy local.
Businesses can join Activity City for free, upload information about their organisation, and even access business support on the platform. Information about accessing business grants, free advice and programmes, as well as links to sources of government funding, are also provided.
“Glenorchy City Council actively promotes Activity City by uploading videos about local businesses, posting on social media, and advertising on billboards, posters and signs,”
As for 2022, the Council will continue to drive and facilitate economic growth in Glenorchy, to ensure that it is creating tangible socio-economic and cultural outcomes for all residents and achieving the visions of its communities.
“We are determined to see Glenorchy emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic stronger than ever, and importantly, for our residents to be proud to call it home.”