THE Foster Community Association (FCA) is looking to the State Election on November 29 as an opportunity to plan Foster’s future with input from the community.
On polling day the FCA will be conducting a Planning for Real® exercise, as was done in 2010 and 2004, in which voters, as they leave the polling booth, are invited to have their say about the future of Foster.
“It’s democracy in action,” said Bill Gurnett, who introduced the Planning for Real® process to Foster, having seen it work successfully in the UK.
“Planning for Real® gives credibility to our requests for funding and assistance,” said FCA member Linda Giddy.
Voters will be invited to name projects that they consider should be given high priority in order to make Foster an even better place to live, work and play. They will be asked to highlight their priorities by placing flags on a map of Foster and district.
At the Planning for Real® exercise back in 2004, the public came up with nearly 2000 ideas. These translated into 52 key projects, most of which have since been completed. They include the establishment of a children’s playground at the showgrounds, improving access to childcare, extending the footpath to the hospital and rail trail, re-building the bridge over Stockyard Creek, reducing the speed limit in town – and much more.
“Foster Swimming Pool is always given high priority,” said Linda Giddy. “Right now the Foster Community Association has people working with the pool committee to present a business case for not shutting the pool.”
A Planning for Real® exercise at the 2010 State Election polling booth in Foster prompted 1800 individual ideas of how Foster could be improved. This information was then broken down into categories and prioritised. Various community groups and individuals then worked together to champion the ideas and see them through to fruition. Key themes included making the Foster town centre more attractive and safer for pedestrians and improving recreational facilities in the district.
Prompted by the feedback from the public, the ‘Welcome to Foster’ sign was upgraded, Foster Lookout greatly improved, the rotunda at the bus stop was beautified by college students, and the FCA is working with South Gippsland Shire Council on beautifying the alleyways and Main Street in Foster – to name a few projects.
Foster Community Association recently held an information session for community and sporting groups at Foster’s Exchange Hotel to explain the Planning for Real® process. Group representatives were invited to take away poster-sized boards for their members to complete, highlighting issues of importance to them in the bid to improve Foster. The boards will go on display on Election Day to help stimulate thoughts and ideas from people participating in the Planning for Real® process.
Foster Community Association president Geoff Harris invites any community groups who were unable to be represented at the information session to send ideas via email to the Foster Community Association at firstname.lastname@example.org so they can be included in the Planning for Real® exercise on Election Day.