City considers COVID-19 Reactivation and Recovery Plan

City of Melbourne Councillors will consider a COVID-19 Reactivation and Recovery Plan that aims to protect jobs and businesses, help our community and support the staged return of people to Melbourne’s city centre.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the plan recognises the unique challenges facing the central city and outlines key priorities for reactivation and recovery.
“From Docklands to Lygon Street, we’ve had cleaners sanitising the city around the clock to keep us all safe. A COVID-safe environment is imperative to encouraging people back to the city,” the Lord Mayor said.
“Over the coming months we’ll continue cleaning hotspots, create more space for people in our Little Streets, kickstart outdoor dining with a faster permit system and keep advocating to extend indoor trading outdoors. We’re also delivering new bike lanes to create more transport options. To pull through, we need to be a city of “yes”.”
The Lord Mayor said the plan includes starting to work with precinct associations, businesses, community groups and Melbourne’s creative industry to reactivate retail strips and vacant shopfronts.
“We want to deliver live performances, art installations and other pop-up activities to bring life back to the city over spring and the vital Christmas period,” the Lord Mayor said. 
“We’re proud of our reputation as Australia’s cultural capital and we’re looking at safe and creative ways to draw people back into the city. Melbourne Fashion Week and our Christmas Festival will launch in November, providing support to our businesses at the most crucial trading time of the year.”
The Lord Mayor said a return of workers to the city will be central to the task of reactivating the city and the draft reactivation plan includes a request to major employers to make a pledge to plan for the safe and staged return of their workforce to the central city.
“We need to show employers the benefits of bringing workers back to the city once it’s safe to do so. The City of Melbourne will be doing its bit, by bringing as many staff as possible back to Town Hall and our other key sites once restrictions ease,” the Lord Mayor said.
The Lord Mayor said the plan also includes a list of priority infrastructure projects that require State and Federal government funding to help kickstart our recovery and benefit our community for years to come.
“Major infrastructure investment creates jobs and future productivity gains for the state and the nation. Melbourne needs a transport route to Fishermans Bend, more affordable housing for key workers, new sporting and community facilities and a transformation of our city waterways around Southbank and Docklands.
Deputy Lord Mayor Arron Wood said it was appropriate that Council consider extending the fee waiver for outdoor dining, which normally generates more than $403,000 a year in revenue.
“We’ve already waived fees for our street trading permits and Councillors will consider extending the fee holiday until 30 June 2021. This would reduce cash pressures on businesses as they work to stay viable in the coming weeks and months. We’re standing with the business community and I’m proud we were one of the first Councils in Victoria to freeze rate rises.”
“Our focus is on making sure Melbourne is open for business as soon as the restrictions lift. I know many Melburnians will be looking forward to coming back in to the city and we want to be ready to extend a safe, warm welcome.” 
“We’ve been working with business and community leaders for months on bringing together the best ideas from passionate Melburnians to get our city through the worst health crisis and recession of our lifetime. Now is a time when we need to work together to restore business confidence in our city.”
The plan outlines seven major initiatives to drive immediate reactivation and create a foundation for the city’s longer term regeneration and ongoing resilience. 
The COVID-19 Reactivation and Recovery Plan will be considered by Councillors on Tuesday.
As noted by Councillors 
Arts, Culture and Heritage portfolio Chair, Councillor Rohan Leppert
“Melbourne is Australia’s undisputed arts and cultural capital, but has been hit hard by the severe downturn from COVID-19. We’re investing $17 million in artists and arts organisations in the coming year through grants, investment in public art and programming.”
Environment Portfolio Chair, Councillor Cathy Oke
“We have shown that cities can effectively respond to the pandemic, and remain focused on the climate and biodiversity emergency. Our green recovery includes planting 150,000 trees, plants and shrubs to increase biodiversity. We’re also working to reduce waste, improve building efficiency and encourage the move to renewable energy.”
International Engagement Chair, Philip Le Liu
“Melbourne is one of the world’s top student cities so it’s vital that we support our university sector and support international students. We worked with our partners to provide food vouchers to more than 11,000 international students and will continue to make current and future students feel welcome in our city.” 
Knowledge Portfolio Chair, Councillor Dr Jackie Watts
“Delivering a new City Library would create jobs in the construction but most importantly  a new City Library should be understood as not only cutting-edge knowledge ‘infrastructure’  to enable and support both businesses and the wider community. It will be a significant cultural asset for Melbourne with the capacity to  support our Education and Knowledge sectors organisations  including  Registered Training Organisations, innovation  hubs and start-ups.”
People City Portfolio Chair, Councillor Beverley Pinder
“Our community’s health and wellbeing is being impacted by the pandemic, particularly in terms of mental health, social isolation and the safety of women. We will continue connecting people sleeping rough with support, providing food to the vulnerable and supporting women and young people at risk.” 
Planning Portfolio Chair, Councillor Nicholas Reece
“We must ensure that any developments that are fast-tracked in response to COVID-19 are places where people want to live or work – now and into the future. Encouraging privately funded projects is crucial to ensure we support as many jobs as possible during the recovery from COVID-19.”
Prosperous City Portfolio Chair, Councillor Kevin Louey
“We want to work to support new and creative retail businesses to occupy vacant shop fronts. We’re also investing $2.6 million to support 60 events in the municipality including sporting, food and wine, health and wellbeing, sustainability, knowledge and innovation and creative events.”
Small Business, Retail and Hospitality portfolio Chair, Councillor Susan Riley
“Many businesses want to work with us to extend dining out onto footpaths and car parks. This will provide a safe and enjoyable way for people to enjoy our inner city food culture while maintaining physical distance. We want to deliver art installations, live performances and other pop-up activities in vacant shop fronts and retail strips to bring life back to the city over spring and the vital Christmas period.”
Transport Portfolio and Aboriginal City portfolio Chair, Councillor Nicolas Frances Gilley
“We’re fast tracking 40km of bike lanes to make it safer for workers living close to the CBD to ride to work. This will create more space on trams and trains for people who need to travel into the city from the outer suburbs.  We’re reducing speed limits on our Little Streets to create more space for physical distancing. We have an opportunity to showcase Melbourne’s Aboriginal heritage and culture and contribute to addressing the disparity experienced by many Aboriginal people.”
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