A "healthy, resilient, and green" future is being planned for Wangaratta.
The council will return for its first meeting for 2021 next week, where it will consider a new environmental sustainability strategy for the next five years. The draft strategy was released this week and will be considered by councillors next Wednesday.
"We recognise that climate change and degradation of natural environmental assets are defining issues of our time and the strategy outlines a vision and action plan over the next five years to address these concerns in order to ensure sustainable social and economic prosperity for the Rural City of Wangaratta," the report stated.
"The strategy aims to protect and invest in our environment, natural assets and the health and wellbeing of our community through our environmental sustainability commitment, expertise and leadership."
Wangaratta's Northern Beaches and Kaluna Park bush reserves were noted as important assets that need protection.
Other challenges listed were dealing with pest plants and animals, ongoing loss of habitat, water availability, climate change and weather events such as fire, droughts and floods.
"The recent 2020 bushfires are a sharp reminder of how climate change can impact upon our lives. It highlights the risks we face with increased adverse weather events and the urgency required to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions if we are to rise to the challenge of creating a life for future generations," the draft strategy stated.
"The 2019-20 summer season exposed us to the devastating impacts of harsher fire weather, with our municipality being declared as one of the six local councils in the declared state of disaster areas post the bushfires.
"An increase in bushfires will have long-term impacts on the ecology of the area, posing a continual threat to human life and impacting upon the economy."
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The council report did not reveal how much all of the plans would cost, but stated grants would be needed to meet some of the funding required.
"It is noted that securing funding continues to be a challenge for environmental sustainability projects where it can be difficult to demonstrate definitive economic outcomes or that the environmental outcomes and benefits are long term," the draft strategy stated.
Councillors will be asked at the next meeting on January 27 to place the draft environmental sustainability strategy on display for public comment for 30 days before it is finalised.
The meeting will be held at the Wangaratta Council chambers from 6pm, but streamed online.
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