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Acrobatic dinner

This was the Land Use Assets Meeting & the Services Committee Meeting. The following was my understanding of the meeting & all mistakes are mine. To cut down the length of this post I will mostly remove “he said/she said” with the comments coming after the person’s name.

Pedestrian crossing on Ewart Street Dulwich Hill – The Traffic Committee approved the crossing, but staff recommended it be considered as part of future budgets because the RTA think it is not warranted & have indicated they will appeal if Council goes ahead & builds it.

A resident spoke for the pedestrian crossing saying the following: residents were upset that the crossing was not going ahead, she had addressed Council about this last July. The pedestrian crossing was on the route to Dulwich Hill Primary School & that it was hard to get the kids safely across to the pedestrian refuge or see cars coming. It was not enough for Council to just use speed cushions. The residents want speed cushions on all 3 entry points as well as signs & warning bumps.  They also want to meet with staff to find a safe, suitable outcome.  I last wrote about this issue here – https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/07/14/report-from-the-gallery-–-13th-july-2010/

This verge in Marrickville is cool & very pretty

One resident spoke against the pedestrian crossing. Over the past 17-years he had never seen anyone wait for more than 2-minutes to cross the road. The community was angry about losing more parking spaces & thought the crossing was a waste of money. Parking was at a premium already.  30 signatures against the crossing were collected over the weekend.

Both Clrs Tsardoulias & Olive said it was reasonable for Council to persist with building the crossing despite the RTA. Clr Olive: the RTA needs to know people want better pedestrian access & quieter streets.  Clr Tsardoulias: wanted angle parking investigated.  Mayor Byrne: Council could do their own usage counts during the periods before & after school.  Staff: the counts were 22 pedestrians & 580 cars between 2.30pm & 3.30pm.

Clr Thanos: it should be deferred until Council did a count as this would help with any appeal from the RTA. Any change to angle parking should be done with community consultation. Angled parking narrows the street & reduces speeding.  Clr Peters asked whether fences could be erected to prevent kids crossing closer to the roundabout. Staff: this is part of the project & that a large tree was obstructing drivers view.  Passed unanimously.

Raising the Western Sahara flag – The Secretary of the Australian Western Sahara Association asked Council to raise the Sahara flag on Western Sahara National Day saying in the past it has been raised in 3 places in Melbourne, in Perth, Hobart & in other Australian cities. 35-years-ago most of Western Sahara was invaded by Morocco. Since then the people were denied freedom of assembly & expression & their mineral resources were exploited.  Raising the Western Sahara flag would extend strong support & solidarity & encourages our & other governments to put pressure on Morocco to do a free & fair referendum.

Magpie

Clr Phillips said he was once involved in the Western Papua cause & knows that raising the flag means so much to those fighting an uphill battle for recognition, as the neither the public or the media know much about these issues.  He supported raising the flag & said it was a small gesture.   Clr Kontellis: peoples’ opposition movements are often turning to Council &  supported raising the flag.

Clr Hanna: against anything like this because it has nothing to do with the people of Marrickville. Clr Thanos: a member of the community have asked Council to do it & because it is in the Charter it is therefore within Council’s business.  He reminded that Council raises the Greek flag every year & dared the Councillors to say they will stop doing this.  Council has a long history of raising many flags.

Clr Olive: the Telegraph said that Council wants to do things for countries that don’t even exist, yet we did it for Aung San Suu Kyi & the Dalai Lama who doesn’t even live in his own country. It’s wholly consistent to support oppressed minorities within their own countries.  The Telegraph should look at the Cooks River, Mackey Park, Kendrick Park & Enmore Pool, as Council are doing the nuts & bolts work & also try to represent oppressed people when our residents let us know about them.

Clr Macri:  he wouldn’t support, as this is just one corner around the world. The public expects us to represent them.  It costs $600 to tie a banner on the balcony so why was there no cost? Council cannot take up every issue even at home; the plight of the Aborigines & disaster victims. A lot of people are disturbed by all the out-of-town issues Council is involved with. The Sister City program was about community, not alliances.  Staff time is being taken up with the out-of-town issues.   For: Clrs Olive, Kontellis, Peters, Byrne, Phillips & Thanos. Against: Clrs Macri, Hanna, Tsardoulias, Iskandar, O’Sullivan & Wright. Clr Tsardoulias used his casting vote to deny the request. Not passed.

Sister Cities program – A resident spoke about the decision to boycott Israeli services & products at a recent Council Meeting.  She asked Council to develop a practical peace-based project regarding Bethlehem & Palestine & said this was already happening with Leichhardt Council. There are hundreds of Jewish people in Marrickville LGA & it was insulting that Council had not involved them. People were shocked & distressed.  Council are not here to do this. Council didn’t involve the Palestinian constituents either. The boycott of Israel is not on Council’s Sister City Report & Judaism is linked to Israel.  The boycott of Israel is not dialogue & co-operation. She asked, why did Council not talk to the Jewish community?  Where is the process that allows the Jewish community to speak with Council & to start a peaceful process? They were offering themselves to work with Council together for peace.  Council’s approach was ‘last century’ & outdated taking out the bad guy to go with the good.  (Around 35 members/supporters of the Jewish community attended tonight’s Council Meeting)

Clr Iskandar: It was a good report. The Sister Cities Program is very different to the decision the previous speaker was talking about.  Sister Cities means peace, inclusion, 2 sides working together in peace & harmony.  There was no intention to exclude any resident inside or outside Marrickville.  We visited Bethlehem & the people were suffering, but have hope that both sides will sit together & have peace. Council is not against the Israeli people; we are just supporting the Palestinians, that one day they will have their own state Israel recognizes. He invited people to participate in any Sister Cities program, but under the new code.

Great when in flower & not pruned too hard

Clr Thanos: He didn’t agree with the Sister Cities policy & would not vote for it. Staff are trying to get a balanced approach because we have too many sister cities. He didn’t agree with having 2 categories of sister cities; those we actively relate to & those we don’t.  He hadn’t seen anything come out of the Sister Cities program for the last 2 years. The Sister Cities Program was outdated & last century, but Council should keep agreement with Bethlehem, always acknowledging Israel’s right to exist & Passchendaele because the children who are buried there had links to Marrickville.  Council hasn’t heard from Kos for 10 years & we could keep Larnaca because of the Cyprus Club is active in our community, but the other cities served no purpose.

Mayor Byrne supported the motion. Clr Peters: The residents have misrepresented Council’s stance on the BDS.  The Palestinians were facing an acute lack of water on the West Bank & only existing on 20% of water. Let’s see if we can work here about the problems of Bethlehem so that the people can grow food & survive.

Clr Phillips: The Sister Cities Program was last century, restrictive & outdated & asked whether Council would be better off promoting exchanges & also do this is Africa & other parts of the world.  Clr Marci:  It was hard to maintain a Sister Cities relationship in such a diverse place & that the locals here are concerned about losing local harmony. He was concerned that the Sister Cities has been hijacked & tarnished by the boycott & wanted programs where Palestinians & Israelis could work together instead of Council being the laughing stock of the world. He has been inundated with emails asking what Israel has to do with Council when they can’t fix the grass. He would support the resolution, Council needs to look at the program & not alienate any of our community.

Clr Hanna:  He supported the resolution.  A Councillor went on radio & said a lot of churches & people asked Council to do the boycott, yet he has not heard anyone say this. We are not the Foreign Affairs Minister & we all work part time.  He was only interested in helping locals & had no intention of running for parliament.  He gave the program 12-months more support. Clr Kontellis:  The criteria for assessing the Sister Cities relationships was ‘poor,’ ‘fair’ & ‘good’ & that the majority of indicators were poor. This says a lot about the Sister Cities Program. She said she was uncomfortable with the outcome & wanted to know how long Council would be supporting an outdated, meaningless program.  Carried with Clrs Phillips, Kontellis & Thanos against.

There were some other items on the agenda. For brevity, I have not reported on them. They attracted little debate.  Here ends the Report for this week.

Grevillea - another great food source for wildlife

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1.        In 2010 Norwood, Payneham & St Peters Council in South Australia were very unhappy about energy company ETSA’s pruning of

This gorgeous beetle landed in my garden this afternoon

their street trees. In response they commissioned a study of 1,613 street trees by Arborists Treevolution.  The company monitored 811 street trees that were pruned by ETSA & found that, “most trees had foliage trimmed in excess of the 2.5m distance from the powerline as set out in ETSA guidelines, with only 2% of the trees trimmed to a satisfactory standard.” Pretty shocking considering the tree numbers.   The report also said, “The level of experience & qualification could also be questioned … & the level attained by the cutting crews well below that accepted as best practice within the arboricultural industry.” The Council acknowledged that ETSA has a legal obligation to prune street trees in the area, however, they thought ETSA’s method of pruning caused long-term damage to the trees.  I hope more Councils decide to challenge & monitor tree pruning practices by energy companies. The community has been unhappy about their work for some considerable time & need their Councils to stand up for their trees. http://messenger-news.whereilive.com.au/news/story/pruning-gets-a-poor-mark/

2.         Residents of Monash Parade Croydon were very upset with Energy Australia after they “tore through (21) brush box trees that had stood for about 80 years.  …it looked like a cyclone passed by with some trees losing almost 70% of their foliage.” “Energy Australia confirmed to The Courier that the trimming had breached guidelines.”

3.         Waverley Local Court fined a resident $19,000 for cutting through what he described as a ‘fat root’ of an old Brush Box growing outside his home.  The tree was under a tree protection order.  Because of the damage caused by the resident, Waverley Council had to remove the tree. Magistrate Milledge described the vandalism to the tree as ‘disgraceful.’ ”Trees not only beautify otherwise stark urban streets, but they offset carbon emissions, provide shade & attract native wildlife.” It was great to see that the judicial assessment went toward the value of the tree & its loss to the community. http://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/an-unkind-cut-that-led-to-a-record-fine-20110201-1acgo.html

4.        Yarra Council in Melbourne are seeking whoever it was who

I wish there were more of these trees

poisoned 2 mature elms on Napier Street Fitzroy & a flowering pear tree on Egan Street Richmond. “Mayor Alison Clarke said killing trees in inner-city streets was a disgraceful act. Natural vegetation & wildlife are scarce enough as it is in a place like Yarra & are highly valued for that reason. So for someone to set out to destroy those things is an extremely selfish act that deprives our community of what is rightfully theirs to enjoy & appreciate.” If caught, the vandal could face a fine of up to $2,000. A low fine might be a measure that allows room for a culprit to still want to risk for cutting a tree illegally. Maybe Yarra Council should think about raising the level of fines for such wrongdoing. $19,000 would not be something one easily risks coping. http://melbourne-leader.whereilive.com.au/news/story/trees-poisoned-in-fitzroy-richmond/

5.        An Adelaide tree lopper has just been fined $22,500 for cutting down

Grevillea

a River Red Gum at Kilburn in April 2010.  “He said he did not care about the fine because large gum trees were dangerous & the law regarding so-called significant trees was inflexible. Mr Carlin said he had been working in the industry for 20 years & had come to know trees.  He said that in his experience, some council arborists did not do thorough analyses of trees when preparing reports on whether tree removal should be approved. He said the tree – with a 3.4m circumference – had dropped a branch on a building on Churchill Rd, loosening asbestos.” He wants no Eucalypts in suburban areas. I wonder what the Australian Capital Territory, which has thousands at public places, would say about that?  http://www.couriermail.com.au/ipad/fine-but-tree-lopper-says-theyre-dangerous/story-fn6ck4a4-1226001087184

6.         In a fantastic move City of Sydney Council is planning a community farm in Sydney Park.  Residents will be able to grow & sell produce.  It’s at the community consultation stage at the moment. http://digitaledition-innercity.innerwestcourier.com.au/ Page 2

7.         A report by Aerial Acquisitions found that over the last few years up to 8,500 hectares of NSW forests may have been approved for logging when they were actually old growth forests & should have been preserved. Many of the forests contained native animal & plant species classified as vulnerable. Forests in Macleay, Dorrigo & around the Hastings river were deemed the worst affected. http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/environment/conservation/flaws-in-surveying-permit-logging-in-protected-forests-20110120-19y3u.html

8.        Brigidine College in St Ives intends to remove much of the work completed last year that was paid for by a $200,000 grant from the federal government’s Building the Education Revolution program to build a car park.  To do this they will remove 50 trees.  Last year they removed nine trees. http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/private-school-calls-in-the-bulldozers-to-demolish-new-building-work-20110204-1agvd.html

9.        If you are interested in Eucalypts, EUCLID is a computer program that covers identifying features of all 894 eucalypts of Australia. Available since 2006, it was produced by the Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research at the Australian National Herbarium.  EUCLID covers Angophora, Corymbia as well as Eucalyptus.  http://www.anbg.gov.au/cpbr/cd-keys/euclid3/index.html

Frangipani tree in winter

 

 

People have been asking me what to plant to attract birds so in an earlier post, Trees are Restaurants, https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/05/27/trees-are-restaurants/ I said I would write about plants &

a gorgeous golden flower from a small Grevillea tree

trees that provide food for birds & other native animals.

This post is about the Grevillea, an Australian native. They are sometimes spelt Grevilliea.

There are about 360 varieties of Grevilleas. They range from ground covers to tallish trees. I’m no expert & others may say something different, but I think if you want birds into your garden quick smart, plant a Grevillea or 2 or 5.

Grevilleas are fast growing, look lovely, respond well to pruning by producing more flowers so they can be kept neat if that is a concern.  Many varieties flower for most of the year with peak periods in both winter & summer months.

The flowers of Grevilleas range from vibrant pinks, reds & oranges to subtle creams & yellows, so if you have a colour scheme in your garden, you can choose to suit.  The flowers themselves can be as tiny as a finger nail or 10 cm or longer & most are long lasting.  One Grevillea shrub or small tree can have a hundred or more flowers during the peak flowering period.

Because their roots are shallow they are not invasive to pipes, nor will they uplift cement or disturb kerbing.  They do not like having their roots disturbed & if this happens, they are likely to drop dead on you. I have not been able to successfully transplant a Grevillea & would recommend you choose your site well. Because their roots are shallow, they appreciate a cover of mulch to protect their roots from drying out.

Smaller Grevilleas are excellent in troughs & roof gardens where there is not too much soil. They grow well in all sorts of soils, including sandy soils, but don’t like to be too wet. They prefer an acidic soil in full sun. They are a great plant for low water requirements.

Robyn Gordon Grevillea - a small shrub

Bankstown City Council are running a program to bring the birds back by encouraging residents to plant bird-feeding plants. Grevilleas are one of those recommended.  230 different species of birds have been sighted in the Bankstown LGA. 16 of these are listed as endangered or vulnerable species in NSW, which is very sad.  Once these birds are gone, they are gone forever.  Pittwater Council has also decided that all properties should have an area at the back that is less cultivated & includes a variety of native plants to provide food sources & habitat for urban wildlife. They also recommend not removing dead trees & leaving hollow logs to provide homes.

There is no reason why we cannot do something similar, if modified somewhat to suit the higher density in some areas of Marrickville LGA. However, many of our gardens have sufficient space for planting many trees & shrubs.  One of my neighbours transformed their ¼ acre block from a lawn with a lemon tree to a spectacular haven for wildlife.  They used a mix of exotics & natives to stunning effect. Grevilleas make excellent trees or shrubs for small front gardens.

pink flowering Grevillea - small shrub

Many Grevilleas are hybrids now, which also ensures they grow well & flower prolifically. Grevilleas from Western Australia don’t do well on the east coast & visa-versa unless they are a hybrid.  Nurseries tend to stock plants that suit the local area, so unsuitability is rarely an issue.

I have read that hybrid Grevilleas are not so good for the birds as they are not used to having so much food.  I admit to ignoring this in an inner city environment, as I truly believe there is a shortage of food for wildlife rather than a glut.  They are competing with cement & plants that do not provide food. I highly doubt they will have obesity problems if we provide some more food sources for them.

I had suspected that possums eat Grevillea flowers & a Google search has confirmed my suspicion. Those who read this blog may remember that I have mentioned that a baby Ring-Tail Possum moved into a nearby street tree last year.  Well, of course he/she would.  There are palm seeds & Grevillea flowers galore at our place so he/she is probably stuffed.  The good news is there is no damage, no poo, & all our gardens are left alone.  Even the ice-berg roses (which possums apparently adore) in a front garden are untouched, proving that if there is sufficient food, the exotics are left alone.

There is only one small problem with Grevilleas that I am aware of.  Some people find the foliage irritating & bare skin contact with them makes their skin itchy. This is something to take into consideration if you have small children.

Which Grevillea to plant? Well that’s personal taste. The nursery will advise you on what grows to what height & the colour of the flowers. There is a Burke’s Backyard Factsheet that lists & describes Don Burke’s choice of the 13 best Grevilleas – http://www.burkesbackyard.com.au/factsheets/Flowering-Plants-and-Shrubs/Dons-Bakers-Dozen:-13-Best-Grevilleas/2102

Basically, if you plant a Grevillea, the birds will come & this can only be a good thing.

golden flowering Grevillea

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