Melbourne, the second-largest city in Australia and the fastest-growing, has been judged, four times consecutively, as the most livable of 140 major cities by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). That enviable status has been achieved by visionary planning – looking 50 years ahead – to build a city that aims always to be one of the world’s best while it also preserves its unique culture.
The city council, led by Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, and its administration, headed by chief executive Kathy Alexander, began work four years ago. They were spurred by the disaster of the Black Saturday bushfires in the hills north and east of the city, when 173 people died and 1,800 houses were destroyed in Australia’s worst natural disaster.
That was 2009, Doyle’s first year as Lord Mayor. The tragedy shaped his view of how his city should develop: “What was not generally appreciated was leading up to Black Saturday, Melbourne had ten days of temperatures as high as 46°C. The city nearly came to a halt… and 375 people died of heat-related stress,” he notes.