Improved connectivity is the priority for Corangamite Shire mayor Ruth Gstrein in 2022.
Cr Gstrein was one of the leaders The Standard spoke to about her hopes and goals for the new year.
She also took the time to applaud the community for its resilience over the past two years.
"Our front line workers and our health care workers have done an amazing job and if you have a look at vaccination rates, we have been leading the state," Cr Gstrein said.
"I think people are really keen to look after themselves and other members of the community and we're going to have to learn to live with this virus and its variants."
Cr Gstrein said it would be a busy year for local government, with both state and federal elections due.
"We've been very busy putting together priority documents for both elections," she said.
"We're going to be knocking on a lot of doors trying to get our voices heard."
Improvements to the shire's roads were a priority, she said.
Widening the north end of the Darlington Road and upgrading the Cobden-Warrnambool Road are among the projects on the agenda.
Cr Gstrein said improved mobile phone coverage for Noorat and Port Campbell were also priorities, along with improved internet access for Simpson.
"We have funding for the Twelve Apostles Rail Trail and we're looking forward to having that finished," she said.
"We will also be commencing the first stage of the Port Campbell streetscape project."
Cr Gstrein said councillors were also hoping to secure $3 million to revamp the Theatre Royal in Camperdown.
She said it was hoped there would be pop-up desks and meeting spaces at the facility when it was upgraded.
Identifying areas in the shire where land could be opened up for housing developments was also high on the council's agenda, Cr Gstrein said.
She said the shire had become increasingly popular in recent years, with people realising they could work from home.
"People are coming out of the city and working from home," Cr Gstrein said.
She said the council would also continue to lobby for an extra train service each day to meet increased demand.
Cr Gstrein said the council would continue to support businesses as they begun to recover from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
She said she was pleased residents had supported shire businesses in the past two years.
"I would encourage people to continue to support local business owners," she said.
Lobbying for $4 million for the Koroit streetscape project is the top priority for Moyne Shire mayor Ian Smith in 2022.
"We need a fair bit of money so we will be knocking on state and federal government doors," Cr Smith said.
He said Koroit was becoming increasingly popular for people wanting to live there and people wanting to visit the town.
"It's a fantastic little town - the new supermarket has given it a real lift," he said.
Cr Smith said identifying new land that could be developed for housing in towns including Mortlake and Hawkesdale was another item on the council's agenda.
He said there was also demand for more industrial land in the shire.
"Ensuring there is available land and helping businesses recover will be priorities," Cr Smith said.
Warrnambool mayor Richard Ziegeler will ring in the new year celebrating the wedding of his eldest daughter Bonnie at the family home on New Year's Eve.
"I've resolved to be a good father-in-law and not interfere too much," he said with a laugh.
With the city council having a number of major projects under way or in the pipeline, Cr Ziegeler said he wanted to maintain the new council's momentum in its second year.
The new library, Reid Oval redevelopment, boat ramp upgrade and a bridge replacement all in the works, councillors have now turned their attention to the future of Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum and AquaZone.
But it was more than just projects Cr Ziegeler has at the forefront of his new year resolutions, it's the way he wants councilllors to interact with its residents.
He said councillors wanted to be responsive to the community and do what the community was asking them to do, and "respond when they ask for something to happen rather than have that community noise in the background".
"A compassionate and effective council who listens to our community," he said.
Roads, housing, staffing issues and health are among the priorities for Member for South West Coast Roma Britnell, who will be seeking re-election in November.
"Rural roads in the electorate remain a mess and we need proper commitment and accountability to build our roads once and build them properly," Ms Britnell said.
She said the lack of affordable and social housing had been a problem in the region for many years and it had only exacerbated during the pandemic.
"It is an issue regularly brought to my attention by constituents - many of whom are desperate to find a roof over their head or risk becoming homeless," Ms Britnell said.
"Our social service organisations are overwhelmed by people seeking help in what really is a crisis."
Ms Britnell said the pandemic had also led to an increase in the number of people seeking assistance for alcohol and drug addiction.
She will continue to advocate for The Lookout Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Centre.
"Having a residential rehabilitation centre is a major step to giving people access to services and treatment to break the cycle of addiction," Ms Britnell said.
She said she was also concerned about businesses facing serious staff shortages.
"It would be hard to find one sector that hasn't been impacted by a lack of staff in recent months," Ms Britnell said.
"It is very concerning to hear some hospitality and retail businesses are being forced to reduce their opening hours during the peak summer season because they can't find workers.
"Opening our borders to international travellers will hopefully bring more backpackers and seasonal workers into our region, but we also need to find ways to empower and support the unemployed to take up jobs."
Member for Western Victoria Bev McArthur said 2022 deserved a renewed focus on the basics - a step back from the COVID-clutter.
"Fundamentally, we must learn to live with this virus," Mrs McArthur said.
"That means the sterilised lives we have lived must conclude - borders must be neither iron curtains or regulated blinds - we are one Australia - a glorious island where movement should be free from unsophisticated political restrictions.
"Mandates and division must end, lockdowns should be well behind us."
Mrs McArthur said first class health and policing should be the priority of government - not social engineering virtue signalling schemes designed to create division and distrust.
"In the same way, 2022 needs to be the year of regional roads," she said.
"Reduced speed signs and endless wire rope barriers are no substitute for properly constructed and maintained roads.
"Roadsides should be safe places; not wildlife corridors, conservation or biodiversity zones, let alone ready wicks for out of control fires caused by high winds and poorly maintained above ground power infrastructure."
Mrs McArthur said 2022 needed to be the year of education.
"After two years of zoom lessons and remote learning, our children deserve a refined, instructive and constructive education in the basics and those things that foster growth and learning in key skills and development areas," she said.
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