A ‘Must-See’ City

The City of Swan

The City of Swan was formed from three local authorities: the Swan Road Board, the municipality of Midland Junction and the Swan Guildford. Back in the 1970s, the small local authorities amalgamated and became the Shire of Swan, with a switch to the City of Swan in the year 2000. The City of Swan is now the largest metropolitan council in the Perth metropolitan area due to the amalgamation of the three authorities, and it spans 1,044 square kilometres.

Swan Valley is a unique part of the City of Swan, and sees around 2.1 million visitors each year. Tourists come to drink exceptional wine and enjoy great food, and the city is well known for its atmosphere and ambiance. Swan Valley can pride itself on the popular 32 kilometre loop around Swan Valley, where all the boutiques, restaurants and wineries are located.

The city has come a long way from where it started. Being the largest in the area makes it the most diverse as well, encompassing a vast range of different aspects and attributes. According to Mayor Charlie Zannino, the rural sections still cover 70 to 80 per cent of the area, allowing for a great deal of future growth. Currently, the city is enjoying an annual growth rate of around 3.5 to 4 per cent – one of the fastest in Western Australia.

The current population of the city is approximately 115,000, and with the projection of growth, the population is expected to hit around 150,000 by 2021. By 2031, it is expected to be almost 200,000. What makes such growth possible is the sheer size of the city.

There are six major developers working on new urban Greenfield residential developments in the urban growth corridor, comprising such areas as Ellenbrook, which is probably the fastest growing residential development in Western Australia.

One incentive for people to move into the city is its strategic location; it is just 17 kilometres Northeast of the Perth city, and within the City of Swan boundaries there are two airports, one in the North and one in the South, shared with Perth. Midland is less than 10 minutes from the Perth airport. All the major highways and freeways go through the City of Swan, which makes it very accessible, and all traffic heading north for the mining industry goes through the City as well. All highways, railways, freights and the passenger aisle are available to the City of Swan.

The Swan Valley is another attractive element for residents, renowned for its wines and now a major tourist attraction. This is part of the richness and variety offered by the City of Swan, which makes it very attractive for people looking to buy property or a residence. There is abundant natural beauty as well; the Swan River runs through the City of Swan and into Fremantle. On the Swan River is also the historical town of Guildford, which was the first settlement in WA, established in 1829. Midland is located between the Swan River and the Helena River.

The size and diversity of the City of Swan allows it to cater to all lifestyles, to people of all ages and demographics. According to Mayor Charlie Zannino, “Most people want to work in the city, but do not want to live in the city because of the hustle and bustle, so we’ve got small towns like the Swan Valley, which are rural residential areas, and are still very close to the Perth CBD.” At a distance of around 20 to 25 kilometres outside Perth, the commute to these rural areas is easily worth the tranquillity to be found there.

One of the main areas for visitors is the historic town of Guildford, which is essentially the gateway to Swan Valley. In the Swan Valley are over 41 wineries and cellar doors, and it is home to two of the largest wineries in Western Australia; Sandalford Wines and Horton Wines. There are also boutique breweries, chocolate factories, cheese, arts and crafts, and a variety of lovely restaurants and cafés. These are all located on the well known 32 kilometre loop around Swan Valley. “The Swan Valley is virtually dissected in half by the Swan River,” explains Mayor Zannino. The area also boasts several large concert venues, attracting eight to twelve thousand visitors to each of approximately 12 concerts a year.

The accessibility of the City of Swan is a great draw for businesses looking to start up somewhere new. Most of the large businesses in the City of Swan are in the manufacturing, transport, wholesale and mining industries, and there are two large industrial parks to serve them. In the past year, other major companies have begun opening their doors, such as Detroit Diesel. These companies service the mining industry and the food and beverage industry, and they benefit from being so close to the airport, major highways and other transport facilities. According to Mayor Zannino, “The City of Swan is looking at developing new major industrial areas, just North of Ellenbrook, because there is a large tract of land there that has just recently been rezoned under the MRS from rural to industrial.” The space cannot be used for residential planning because of the close proximity to the Northern airbase, which would produce too much noise for residential homes, but it is ideal for industrial development. There are also plans to put in a new highway, which would be an extension of the Tonkin highway.

The population of Ellenbrook is over 30,000 people, and Mayor Zannino explains that, “Ellenbrook is a major centre in its own right, but all these people need to travel into the Perth city to get work. Now, if we open a new industrial park which is virtually on their doorstep to the North, it would create local employment and also a new major transport hub.” The transport hub being outside of the city will also help alleviate congestion on the roads.

One of the greatest challenges the city is facing is its rapid growth and keeping pace with meeting the needs of the community. Where there is a rapidly growing local authority and the population is quickly growing as well, continuous improvement may be necessary to provide the necessary infrastructure and community services. With the large size of the City of Swan, one solution to this challenge was to designate Place Managers with offices in different localities. There are five places with Managers within the City of Swan, in Altone, Ballajura, Ellenbrook, Midland and the rural area, which each have one Place Manager. Any resident who does business with the local authorities, or who has a concern or a problem, can speak with the Place Manager in the area instead of having to travel to the Capital city; it is a model which has proven quite successful. In addition, there are 15 councillors across seven different wards, who can work with the Place Managers to solve problems more easily, since the Place Managers understand the issues and know the local community.

Mayor Charlie Zannino himself has lived in the Swan Valley for his entire life. His parents came from Italy to Western Australia when Charlie was only two and half years old. He always enjoyed living in the area and decided to start a family there as well. His wife and two boys still live on the same property, and Mayor Zannino explains this choice simply: “It’s magnificent; I wouldn’t want to go anywhere else, because you’ve got the benefit of a rural lifestyle, but you’re only a few minutes out of Midland and only 25 minutes from the Perth CBD, so you’ve got the best of both worlds.” He also makes it very clear that the City of Swan has something for everyone, and plans to stay that way. For example, there are new youth centres opening to provide recreational opportunities to the younger generation. The City is a great place to raise children or build a home, and yet it is also a fantastic place to retire, because there are benefits for all ages, with major equestrian centres, diverse sports and recreational activities, beautiful parks, and swimming pools.

The future of the City of Swan is full and bright. The next step for the City is to incorporate a University, and there are currently some Universities that are looking at locating in Midland. The construction of a brand new health campus in Midland is already underway to replace the older hospital that is currently operating. The new hospital will be ready to open its doors by July 2015, and will be a major facility encompassing 307 public beds, and around 80 private beds.

There is a major shopping centre, the Midland Gate, which is probably the second busiest shopping centre in Western Australia. Negotiations with the proprietors of Midland Gate were undertaken to spend another 150 million dollars to extend the shopping centre, and the new expansion should be open for business by 2015. Hopefully, as Midland progresses, the University will start up, enabling the area’s youth to get their education close to home. Mayor Zannino sounded adamant – “We’ve got the plan and we’re going to make it happen.”

The City of Swan has received recognition for its many terrific qualities. The visitor centre has won gold at the state level three years in a row, and this year took home a silver medal at the national level. With big plans on the horizon, and solid plans in place to meet the evolving needs of its growing population, the City of Swan is well poised to meet the future head on.

Making Sense of Management

Management is the art, or science, of getting things done through people. Sounds fairly straightforward – except for the fact that people are not robots waiting to do our bidding. People have their own minds, motivations, and goals. So how do managers keep operations – and the people behind them – running as planned?

December 19, 2018, 9:25 AM AEDT