20 Year Celebration of Amalgamation

Alexandrina Council will celebrate a significant milestone on Saturday, 1 July with the Council officially entering its 20th year of existence.

Twenty years ago the District Council of Port Elliot and Goolwa, the District Council of Strathalbyn and a portion of land from the District Council of Willunga joined together to form the Alexandrina Council.

The amalgamation process was a result of a decision to restructure all South Australian local governments to reduce the number of councils from 119 to 69 with the aim to achieve improved functionality and efficiency. Combining council assets and finances also provided a more feasible opportunity to fund major projects and programs across a wider area.

Numerous amalgamation options were explored by the District Council of Strathalbyn and District Council of Port Elliot and Goolwa in early 1997. The possibility of the two Councils amalgamating to form one Council was explored. Mergers with adjoining Councils such as Mount Barker, Victor Harbor and Yankalilla were also potential options.

Individuals on the electoral role were sent survey packs to help gauge community interest of preferred amalgamation options.

Over 80% of responding District Council of Port Elliot and Goolwa residents made it clear their preference would be to amalgamate with the District Council of Strathalbyn, with 62.9% of responding District Council of Strathalbyn residents sharing the same viewpoint.

And so, on 24 February, 1997 the official document for the proposed amalgamation of the District Council of Strathalbyn and the District Council of Port Elliot and Goolwa was signed by Strathalbyn Mayor Val Ball and Port Elliot and Goolwa Mayor Kym McHugh.

Goolwa was nominated as the location for the new Alexandrina Council Chambers. To accommodate the increase of required staff a new building was constructed, with new infrastructure connecting the existing Goolwa Council offices with the Goolwa Library, located in the historic Old Goolwa Council Chambers on the corner of Cadell and Dawson Streets.

Kym McHugh ran unopposed for Mayor in the initial elections of Alexandrina Council. He served as Alexandrina Council Mayor for 17 years until deciding not to stand for re-election in the 2014 council elections. Val Ball chose to stand as a councillor candidate for the Strathalbyn Ward and was successful in her bid.

Cr Frank Tuckwell is the last remaining elected member from the 1997 elections. Cr Tuckwell has now represented the Goolwa ward for the past twenty-five years.

Major projects that may have not been practical in the previous structure have now come to fruition such as the;

  • Goolwa Sports Stadium, opened in May 2001
  • Encounter Bikeway, completed in 2001
  • redevelopment of Strathalbyn Community Swimming Pool, completed in December 2009
  • establishment of Community Wastewater Management Scheme (CWMS) in six Alexandrina townships
  • Strathalbyn Library & Community Centre, opened in September 2011
  • renovation of Centenary Hall, completed in April 2012
  • Strathalbyn Skate Park, opened in April 2014 
  • Bristow Smith Reserve Nature Playspace, opened in December 2015
  • renovation of Mount Compass War Memorial Hall, completed in April 2016
  • Fleurieu Aquatic Centre, opened in March 2017
  • ongoing Mount Compass main street beautification

With an estimated population increase of 9,500 people since 1997, Council’s current position to service the community has undoubtedly been strengthened as a result of the amalgamation process.

Alexandrina Council continues to be a regional leader in agriculture, arts and culture, tourism and senior services. The Alexandrina vision is about connecting communities through regional innovation, a thriving environment, quality of life and wellbeing for all, increasing cultural vitality and activating vibrant spaces.