How a Lord Mayor’s vision can revive a CBD

Feel-good projects don’t always rate as critical to program managers, but can be just as important as big capital development for making a city feel proud, says Perth’s Lord Mayor. Lisa Scaffidi opens up about the changing face of Perth and bringing stakeholders with her.

For the launch of the Centre for Public Impact, Lord Mayor of Perth Lisa Scaffidi spoke about running one of the world’s fastest-growing cities and making a real impact. This is an edited version of that interview.

Perth is a city on the move. Blessed with rich reserves of natural mineral and energy resources and a highly-educated workforce, the capital of Western Australia has ridden a wave of economic growth — an annual rate of 4% — at a time when other cities, and countries, were locked in the shadow of the global financial crisis. Throw in more sunshine than any other Australian city, its pristine white sand beaches and fast-increasing rates of investment, and then it’s easy to see why its population has risen so rapidly in recent years.

Lisa Scaffidi, Perth’s lord mayor since 2007, isn’t the type to claim credit for this prosperity, however. Nor is she likely to declare mission accomplished. Not for her the resting on any laurels, transformation for Scaffidi is a constant process — and something that has fuelled the strategy of her consecutive terms in office. “I think no matter how big or small any budget, careful planning allows for some ‘feel-good projects’ that without a doubt stimulate and get the community talking,” she says. “Mayors need to champion these things as they inspire and connect communities and enable people to think about their surroundings in a different way.”

The Scaffidi style

“The key is to paint a clear council-endorsed vision that is achieved in specific and well-communicated stages.”

Lisa Scaffidi is Perth born and bred. Brimming with that elusive elixir of approachability, authenticity and positivity, she mixes a down-to-earth style with an eye on the bigger, long-term direction of her home town. “The key is to paint a clear council-endorsed vision that is achieved in specific and well-communicated stages,” she says. “I believe there is also room for some ‘feel-good projects’ that can be delivered quickly and visibly, as these projects give stakeholders faith you are delivering and are good for your word.”

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