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Located in the Hawkesbury River Valley, Hawkesbury City Council is the largest Local Government area in metropolitan NSW. It covers an area of 2,793 square kilometres and has an estimated population of 62,485. It is divided by four river valleys and contains fertile flood plains and wetlands, undulating hills, timbered ridges, steep gorges and towering escarpments. The Hawkesbury is made up of many small townships and localities.
The Council comprises 12 elected people called councillors. The local government area is not subdivided into wards therefore each councillor represents the whole of the Hawkesbury. Council elections are held every four years. Council's annual budget is over $70 million.
Prior to the European settlement of the area, the Dharug people were drawn to the banks of the Hawkesbury River (which they called the Deerubbin). Before 1788 up to 3000 Dharug people lived in the Hawkesbury Valley.
The Hawkesbury was settled by Europeans over 200 years ago. In 1794, 22 farms were marked out from South Creek to Wilberforce and, within four years, the area was populated by 600 free settlers as well as convict labourers. In 1810, Governor Macquarie established five towns in the area - Windsor, Richmond, Wilberforce, Pitt Town and Castlereagh.
In 1843, the Windsor District Council was the second proclaimed council in NSW. It covered 2,110 square kilometres and had a population of almost 6,500 people. This council was disbanded in 1846 and on 4 March 1871, the Borough Council of Windsor was declared.
Richmond Borough Council was proclaimed on 18 June 1872. It covered the area from Bourke Street to Pugh's Lagoon. On 1 January 1949, Windsor and Richmond joined to become Windsor Municipal Council.
Colo Shire Council was established in 1906 and covered mainly rural areas of the Hawkesbury area. Both Colo Shire and Windsor Municipal Councils were amalgamated on 1 January 1981 to become Hawkesbury Shire Council. At that time, there was a population of 37,750. By 1989, when Hawkesbury became a City, this had grown to over 50,000. Now, more than 62,000 people live in this area.
Council's many and varied responsibilities can be divided into three areas - services to maintain or improve our local environment, services to assist people, and activities which provide the means to raise and spend money necessary to pay for these services.
Council provides a wide range of community facilities, such as libraries, two swimming pools, Bicentenary Park Bicycleway, Neighbourhood and Youth Centres, Childrens Services, Heritage Park, a number of ovals and sporting grounds, as well as various parks and reserves, and much more. In the last three years Council has built a Disability and Aged Services Centre in Windsor and Community Centres at Yarramundi and Wilberforce.
Council has been involved in a number of large projects including the McGraths Hill Wetland project and the transformation of the old Hawkesbury Hospital into a Cultural Precinct.
Hawkesbury is well positioned for economic growth with an increasing population and strength in some key areas with export potential. A local Economic Development Advisory Board is responsible for representing the wider community with representatives appointed from local business, the Hawkesbury Chamber of Commerce, RAAF Base Richmond, University of Western Sydney - Hawkesbury campus, agricultural / horticultural industry and Council. In addition to new projects, all Council's buildings, roads, footpaths and facilities must be maintained and upgraded as required to meet community needs. Numerous services and programs are provided by Council, including street lighting, garbage collection and recycling, pollution control, child care, aged and disability services, community development and recreational activities.
Council has also developed a community planning cycle to give residents and community groups the opportunity to participate in the decisions that the Council makes about the provision of services and facilities. Council has also established an Equity and Access Planning Committee to work with community groups to ensure that all residents can use and enjoy Council services and facilities.
For most of its early history the Hawkesbury was a major supplier of agricultural products for the colony of New South Wales. Today agriculture is still an important industry and continues to play a vital role in defining the character and landscape of the district. For many residents the mix of urban and rural localities makes the Hawkesbury a desirable place to live. Since the turn of the century the defence force has also maintained a significant presence in the Hawkesbury. The Richmond RAAF bases continues to be a major contributor to the local economy.
Hawkesbury City is a dynamic place. Within its boundaries there are people who were born in more that 45 different countries and who speak more than 30 different languages. In the last four decades the population has more than doubled. Over the next two decades the population will continue to increase - by 2019 it is estimated that almost 83,000 people will be living in the Hawkesbury.
Hawkesbury City Council is very proud of its rich heritage and the natural and built environment of the area. It worked hard to maintain this through a number of environmental and heritage programs
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