The Cooks River beside Marrickville Golf Course. Mahoney Reserve is just behind the fence.

This was the Council Meeting.  Absent: Clr Peters.  The following is how I understood the meeting & all mistakes are mine.  Note: MC = Marrickville Council.  The Councillors & Wards are as follows – LABOR:  Iskandar/Central, Wright/North, Tsardoulias/West, O’Sullivan/South. GREENS:  Phillips/Central, Peters/North, Byrnes/North, Kontellis/West, Olive/South.  INDEPENDENT:  Macri/Central, Thanos/West, Hanna/South.

Marrickville Cooks River Committee – 1. Note the minutes, 2. wanted MC to address the ongoing pollution of the Cooks River, write to NSW Minister for Health & Sydney Water Corporation about sewerage getting into the river via ageing sewerage pipes & prioritizing upgrading these before 2016, 3. investigate options to remediate sandstone rock riverbank near the Cooks River Canoe Club & 4. note the committee’s support for a $30,000 Budget bid for tree planting along the riverbank from Mahonney Reserve to the Marrickville Golf Club Clubhouse.

2 people representing the Cooks River Committee & Mudcrabs spoke. Wanted MC to support $30,000 for tree planting along the river. StreamWatch have been monitoring e-coli levels in the river for 4.5 years. All times the river is unsuitable for swimming & often secondary contact, such as boating, because of sewerage pollution. Sometimes the e-coli level is 10 x above safe level. (I think the Councils need signs warning people about eating fish caught in the river – J)  With Marrickville 2021 feedback, 70% of residents said restoring the river was important & all desired to be able to swim in the river.  We see it as realizable by 2021. He showed a 1931 photo of lifesavers at Steel Park. Wanted MC to support looking at increasing biodiversity & planting in the Marrickville Golf Course where several sections have no trees. Riparian zones are vital for river health. Strongly urge MC to get the community & the Golf Course to work together to plant trees.  There are no powerlines or underground cables/pipes in this area. Riverbank near Wardell Road has no trees also.  Resident spoke: supported previous speakers, but opposed the priority planting of 2 species of Casuarinas & that MC’s staff report said that there were 11 species of Eucalypt, plus Callistemon, Melaleuca, Pittosporum & Fig that were indigenous.  Also you get soil acidity from Casuarinas. We should not just focus on Casuarinas. There are not many mature Gums along the river & they are essential for many birds & bats. Asked MC to support planting more for biodiversity along the Cooks River.

Clr Olive: We have heard in the press that there is an issue of faecal matter in the river. Proposed that MC write to NSW Minister for Health to see what can be done to ameliorate this issue. Where there are cracked pipes they should be fixed. Trees were discussed with the Cooks river committee; $30,000 needed for tree planting in the Golf Course.  There has been lots of work done at Tempe Reserve, Kendrick Park, Mackey Park, Warren Park & the WaterPlay project. The Golf Course is next. Cooks River Committee think that planting trees is the way to go & the President of the Golf Club seems to think this is the way to go also. $30,000 is not a huge amount of money. It would give a result to the Cooks River Committee, the community & the river itself & will enhance quality of life.

Clr O’Sullivan:  As a member of the Cooks River Committee I support the first 3 items.  I will discuss item 4 when we discuss the Notice of Motion. Item 3 is absolutely critical in terms of our river environment as banks are important.  Right from Garnet Street to Boat Harbour in Tempe, they are such important components of water quality.  Vote – unanimous.

Notice of Motion by Clr Olive – MC to enter into discussion with Marrickville Golf Course for tree planting from Mahoney Reserve to the Clubhouse, $30,000 allocation from 2011-12 budget & tree planting to prioritize the use of endemic Casuarinas.  Clr Olive amended his Notice of Motion to – Prioritises the use of indigenous tree species.  We look at other parts of the Golf Course, especially to Wardell Road, don’t limit it to Casuarinas & use a broader range of tree species as mentioned by Council staff (These were 11 species of Eucalyptus as well as Callistemon, Melaleuca, Pittosporum & Ficus species).

Clr O’Sullivan:  Against the motion & putting up a foreshadowed motion. The motion as it stands pays cursory attention to the need to look at the embankment as a whole. We need to look at where we need to prioritise work & decide where first, second & third allocation work should be in terms of the budget & working with our volunteers. I would prefer a more considered approach. The Casuarinas are now going. They are only 2 indigenous tree species. There are other species that the river needs. There is wonderful work being done by Canterbury Council with their volunteers & experts to create very complex riverine environments on the other side. I will propose the MC report on 2 April on a scope of works that designate priority lists using biodiversity & decide on which to do first & which to refer to the Cooks River Alliance in terms of budget allocation.

Clr Thanos: I don’t see how foreshadowed motion negates the Notice of Motion. We have already allocated $30,000. If we are going to plant trees we need to negotiate with Marrickville Golf Club & do that sooner than later.  He put up a motion to amalgamate the 2 motions. Clr O’Sullivan:  I oppose. The motions are very different. One puts priority on 1 site, the other suggests a process.  Clr Phillips: Supported Clr Olive’s motion. It can be done in the next budget.  Clr Thanos: The motion is just to talk to Marrickville Golf Club & considers a budget allocation of $30,000 when it comes time to discuss the budget.

Staff: Not aware of any detailed design work so I can’t say whether I can meet that timeframe or not. Clr Olive’s motion talks about $30,000 budget allocation, Clr O’Sullivan’s talks about a report to assess another budget allocation.  I’m happy if you delete point 2, the money allocation.  Clr Kontellis: We have a great opportunity in this budget to not talk a lot about it, but to actually plant trees. Clr Olive: We have done a lot of work regarding naturalization.  Every indication is that the Golf Club don’t have a problem planting trees in appropriate places.  Vote for original motion: For – Clrs Thanos, Byrne, Phillips, Kontellis & Olive. Against: Clrs Hanna, Macri, Tsardoulias, Wright, Iskandar &  O’Sullivan.  Motion lost. Vote for Clr Olive’s motion:  For – Clrs Thanos, Byrne, Phillips,  Kontellis & Olive. Against: Clrs Hanna, Macri, Tsardoulias, Wright, Iskandar &  O’Sullivan.  Motion lost.

Clr O’Sullivan’s motion – Clr O’Sullivan:  My sense is that Environmental Services already have a biodiversity plan that actually identifies the places along the river that have priority, therefore it is doable by end of April.  If you walk from the Clubhouse to Illawarra Road it’s shaded.  It’s a lot more gracious walk than the area from the Clubhouse to Wardell Road & on to Hurlstone Park. We need to get a sense of where we need to work on first. It’s critical we get a sense of MC’s priority so we can send to the Cooks River Alliance because that’s where the funding is.  The continuous landscape on the other side of Tempe Station to Illawarra Road is what we should be aiming for.

Clr Thanos: Need to change to report done by May.  Clr Byrne: Supported report done by May. The scope of work needs a fair amount of analysis.  It wouldn’t be right to make a budget decision based on a rushed report.

Staff: Our preference is that we do investigation & design in one year & the implementation in the next year.

Clr Wright: With the scope of works we are talking about trees & other planting to help the bank. We mean revegetating. Change the point to revegetating so it will not read as engineering works.  Clr Thanos: Amended to report due first meeting in May.  Carried Unanimously. End part 1.

Cooks River Marrickville