Ipswich City Council has adopted the iFuture corporate plan to guide the organisation over the next five years.
Ipswich City Council has adopted the iFuture corporate plan to guide the organisation over the next five years.

Council outlines priorities for next five years

IPSWICH City Council has adopted a new corporate plan which will guide the strategic direction of the organisation and its 1400 staff over the next five years.

From July 1, iFuture will replace the existing Advance Ipswich community plan and the 2017-2022 corporate plan to serve as the council's guiding light.

It includes a wider plan for the next 20 years as Ipswich's population of 233,000 is expected to more than double to 558,000 by 2041.

Acting CEO Sonia Cooper.
Acting CEO Sonia Cooper.

The council engaged just over 2000 people to help form the plan and this included the city's nine councillors and 478 council staff.

The plan is split into four themes with broad goals the council wants to achieve by 2026.

Councillors officially adopted iFuture at last week's council meeting.

A year on since elected representatives returned to Ipswich, the council still has a big task ahead of it to restore trust with its residents after years of upheaval which has only been compounded by the economic impacts of COVID-19.

The organisation handed down a $603 million budget last year during the midst of the pandemic.

Acting CEO Sonia Cooper said it would act as the "true north" for the council and progress on objectives outlined in the document would be featured in the council's annual reports.

"If we have plans in place now for the next two decades, then we are already ahead of the curve and will be well prepared for the next challenges that come our way," she said.

Mayor Teresa Harding said iFuture marked a "new era" for local governance in Ipswich.

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The plan is made up of four themes including Vibrant and Growing; Safe, Inclusive and Creative; Natural and Sustainable; and A Trusted and Leading Organisation with desired outcomes and catalyst projects under each umbrella.

Of those community members involved in the process, 46 per cent were ratepayers, six per cent owned a business locally and 89 per cent lived in Ipswich.

Only 28 per cent of those people involved actually worked in the city.

Under the Vibrant and Growing banner, the council says it wants "city centres" to be "alive with dining and entertainment for people to engage in that's open seven days a week and late at night".

Ipswich’s population is set to more than double to 558,000 people by 2041.
Ipswich’s population is set to more than double to 558,000 people by 2041.

Catalyst projects for the next five years include the Ripley Valley Growth Strategy to manage the huge growth in the southeastern pocket of the city and "major road upgrades" for Redbank Plains and Springfield.

The council says the main projects it will advocating for over the next five years include the Ipswich to Springfield public transport corridor options analysis and business case, the Cunningham Highway Yamanto to Ebenezer Creek upgrade, the Ipswich second river crossing detailed business case, the North Ipswich Sport and Entertainment Precinct detailed business case and waste and recycling reform.

It will also push the state and federal governments over investment for shovel-ready projects such as the Mount Crosby interchange and a "plan for better social services, regional job creation and skills and industry development".

Under its Natural and Sustainable theme, one of its main aims is to improve the health of the city's waterways, implement a Green Corridors Strategy to protect vegetation and wildlife and review its Materials Recovery Plan.

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The council outlines by 2026 it wants to be "trusted by the community" and be leaders in good governance, while providing "outstanding customer service".

"We (want to) make it easier to interact with council online, through digital channels, in person and over the phone," the document notes.

"We (want to be) financially sustainable."

As of June 30 last year, the council's debt levels had risen to $344.2 million.

Through its new planning scheme it intends to "conserve and enhance the city's built heritage" and the council wants to reduce the city's rate of waste disposal at landfills, while expanding resource recovery and recycling practices.

The council's landfill diversion rate is currently tracking at 22.87 per cent, which is well below the state's 2025 diversion target of 55 per cent.

It plans to achieve this target by 2026.

Division 3 councillor Andrew Fechner said the document "sets the tone" for the new council as it sought to improve service delivery.

"This is the piece of work that will decide the future of our city not just for the next five years but what we can expect in 2041," he said.

"It's wonderfully aspirational and it will keep our decision making on track for a better Ipswich.

"(There were) significant challenges in delivering this document.

"We're saying we're putting our foot down to say this is what we want in our city. It's going to be a fight to get there."

Other objectives include improving public transport connectivity, increased employment and education for young people, better access to health and social services and for the Ipswich "brand" to be " positive and inclusive".

To view the full document, click here.

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