By Luke Voogt
Hire bikes, shuttle buses, street art and security cameras feature on this year’s council candidate Pako wish lists, as democracy returns to Geelong this month.
The Voice on Pako contacted candidates for the Brownbill Ward, which includes Pakington Street and its surrounds, ahead of the 27 October council election.
Former Geelong West Traders Association member George Ballas called for Pako’s businesses to again unite to protect their interests.
The former Pako Festa chairman promoted his work over decades with Diversitat and the old Geelong West Council to bring “new life” to the street.
“Pakington Street has become more than the foodies’ street of this great city,” he said.
“The multicultural and cosmopolitan feel is no accident.
“Parking in and around Pako should remain free – off street parking was financed by ratepayers.”
Former councillor Eddy Kontelj campaigned for greater police presence to prevent theft following spates of commercial burglaries in Pako this year.
“This will include identifying high security risk areas that will benefit from the installation of CCTV cameras,” he said.
“Free hard waste pick up is also an initiative I will be advocating to implement promptly.”
Socialist Alliance candidate Sue Bell also campaigned to protect the street, but from over development instead.
“Its small shops and cafes are its charm and I would hate to see major retail groups dominating the street,” she said.
“It’s a vibrant shopping and cafe hub and I think it should become more pedestrian and bicycle friendly.”
Geelong West mother-of-two Ellen Csar also had bikes in mind, with plans to introduce a Melbourne-style “blue bike” hiring system.
An art window exhibition, more green spaces and street art would add vibrancy to Pako, she said.
“A shuttle bus which could connect one end of Pakington Street to the other (would make) it a little easier for the senior residents with their shopping.”
Greens candidate Sarah Mansfield focussed on the “big issue” of parking in one of her favourite parts of Geelong.
“I will work to improve accessibility to the area, including safer bicycle network connections, more bike racks, better maintained footpaths and more frequent local public transport links,” she said
“I’d love to see (Pako) build on its strengths of diversity and inclusiveness by growing the presence of local arts and live music.”
Kings Funerals director Michael King pledged to consult with Pako businesses and community members on “what is working well” and what council could do better.
“My vision for the Pako precinct is for it to continue to thrive as a destination to work, live and play,” he said.
“Both ends of Pako are strong and diverse communities and I would also investigate what successful Pako initiatives can be shared with other parts of Geelong.”
Fellow candidate Terry Gillard called more for alfresco areas, tree lighting and splashes of colour with new plants.
Freya Fidge declared her support for Geelong’s Clever and Creative Future project and diversity, while Mik Aidt called for careful town planning and protecting open areas.