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This was the Council Meeting. All Councillors attended as Mayor Iskandar had returned from his Sister Cities tour.  For around half of the meeting I found it difficult to hear so parts of this post are incomplete. The meeting was not recorded in full because of problems with the sound system. For the first time since I have been attending Council meetings there was a large screen that showed the recommendations as printed on each business paper. I found this very helpful to fill in the blanks when I was not able to hear.  This new technology is a good addition. Any mistakes are mine.

Review of Community Cultural Events Program – Mayor Iskandar wanted to postpone this item for further discussions. Clr Kontellis & Clr Thanos objected. Clr Thanos said he was against the events program as it costs $450,000 a year & this money could build a new library that Council has been discussing for 12 years. This developed into Clr Thanos asking for a motion of dissent as Chair Mayor Iskandar was calling him out of order.  Clrs Thanos, Byrne, Phillips, Peters, Olive & Kontellis supported the dissent motion which was lost.  The Greens & Clr Thanos voted against deferral. Item deferred on the Mayor’s casting vote.

Management Plan & Budget 2010/14 – A number of issues pertaining to the budget were debated. 3 speakers

lovely colour

from the community spoke in support of the budget with regards to fees for outside seating for cafes/restaurants. They asked fees not be increased above the CPI.

3 residents, 2 of whom were children, spoke against the budget in regards to delaying half-road closure works for Audley Street Petersham that were approved by Council 3 ½ years ago. The speakers wanted works included in the budget, saying 24 children on the street were at risk by through traffic.

The main debate centred on where to find the money to do the Audley Street works & fund the Greenway Co-ordinator’s position. Clr Tsardoulias made an amendment to take $50,000 from the Marrickville Station works & give $40,000 to Audley Street & $10,000 to the Greenway position. Clrs Olive, Thanos, Byrnes, Peters, Phillips & Kontellis opposed the motion, not wanting any money taken from Marrickville Station upgrade works. Carried. Clr Olive said that $100,000 for Wilga Avenue upgrade needs to be returned to the budget allocation.

State Government changes to infrastructure contributions – The NSW State Labor government has capped Section 94 contributions from developers to $20,000. (wow!)

Conditions of a 12 month Licence to Tempe Basin Motor Boat Club Association – 2 people spoke, one representing the current lease holders.  He asked that the 12 month lease continues as is, outlining the work they have already completed at the site & the training opportunities they have offered to TAFE students. Another speaker spoke about what work they would do if the lease was rescinded & given to their organisation &, as a charity, how they would involve the community.  Clr Phillips moved an alternative motion to open the tender to allow all interested parties to apply. He said the process was rushed & other parties were not even included.  He & other members of the Greens spoke of a perception in the community that due process wasn’t followed.  This was debated strongly. The motion to rescind was lost & the motion to continue the lease as is for 12 months was carried with the Greens voting against.

Street lighting – Council wants low voltage lights used, particularly on main roads, to lower greenhouse gas emissions as well as reduce the escalating costs of street lighting. Energy Australia has increased costs by 31%. Council will write to NSW ministers & the opposition regarding the crippling costs & seek financial assistance. 50% of Marrickville LGA carbon emissions come from street lighting.

(To read how Victorian Councils are attempting to address this issue, see the first item – https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/06/22/tree-news-3/ )

Greenhouse gas emissions target – Clr Phllips moved a motion that Council prepare a report about greenhouses gasses for 2010 & make budget adjustments to meet targets.  He said Council set a target in 1997 to reduce emissions by 2010. This hasn’t happened & we are either 4,444 tonnes or 2,222 tonnes over, depending on the estimates of a recent report. He was against Council going the way of buying carbon offsets & instead move over to renewable energy as much as possible. Motion lost with all Councillors against except the Greens & Clr Thanos.

Here ends the Report for this week.

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Not exactly about trees, but important in that the issue of greenhouse gas emissions from street lighting was debated just last night at the Marrickville Council Meeting.  The Municipal Association of Victoria has called on State & Federal Governments to help local Councils replace old street lighting with new energy-efficient technology. Called the Give Our Streets the Green Light campaign, it aims to replace an estimated 330,000 local street-lights with 80W mercury vapour lamps. This change will provide an energy saving of approximately 70%, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 78,000 tonnes & save $7 million per year. Significant.  http://www.governmentnews.com.au/2010/06/08/article/DYGMLVICND.html

On to trees proper: The UTAS School of Geography & Environmental Studies is conducting a national survey to help build a comprehensive picture of Australian attitudes related to trees in cities so if you have an attachment to a tree or a memory relating to trees from your childhood, then tell your tree story now. http://www.media.utas.edu.au/general-news/all-news/surveying-social-attitudes-to-trees-in-cities-across-australia

It looks like the beautiful Nobbys Headland Newcastle will soon be opened to the public for the first time in more than 150 years. http://newcastle.iprime.com.au/index.php/news/prime-news/nobbys-to-open-after-more-than-century,427001?

Bridge Street, the tree-lined main street of Murray Bridge is lined with Eucalypts & Jacaranda trees.  The Eucalypts are going to be removed by Murray Bridge Council because they believe the trees are too big. Now several business owners have said they want the Jacaranda trees removed as well as “they frequently dropped leaves and flowers, forcing businesses into a constant battle to keep their sidewalks clean.”

Some of us look forward to Jacarana flowers & their purple carpet. I wonder what the financial impact will be once Bridge Street is devoid of trees?  Research has found that shops in tree-lined shady areas earn 11% more as shoppers stay longer & spend more.  If I owned a business, I would be clamoring for the trees to be retained. http://www.murrayvalleystandard.com.au/news/local/news/general/jacarandas-caught-in-crossfire/1860964.aspx

Green sites in Maitland are vanishing with close to 90% of the city’s green field sites marked for development. Less than 10% of remnant vegetation, including woodlands & native scrub, remain in the Maitland LGA.  http://www.maitlandmercury.com.au/news/local/news/general/green-sites-vanishing/1859493.aspx

As part of a tree rejuvenation project, Singleton Council is removing an unspecified number of trees in Burdekin Park to rid the park of bats that live there. They will chop the trees down between dusk & 11pm so the bats have no home when they return at dawn. The State government has granted approval under the New South Wales Threatened Species Conservation Act for the removal of the trees under specific conditions.” “It was resolved by council to plant trees of a similar species to the ones being removed.” http://www.singletonargus.com.au/news/local/news/general/burdekin-park-singleton/1856059.aspx

Now that the bats which have lived for a couple of decades in Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens are about to be kicked out, Campbelltown Council quite reasonably wants to know whether the Macarthur area is at risk of being swamped by 22,000 grey-headed flying foxes. The Botanic Gardens Trust, said, “it was unlikely the flying foxes would come this far west & were more likely to settle in Gordon or the eastern suburbs.” My last post https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/06/18/hungry-bats-birds/ spoke about flying foxes leaving QLD & migrating as far as Adelaide & Tasmania. The Botanic Gardens Trust said, “If the bats moved into areas that were inappropriate, like out west, we’d follow a contingency relocation program.” Hope they do this for the bats about to lose their home at Burdekin Park as well. My guess is that people are going to be complaining loudly because bats have come to live in suburban gardens.  I hope I am wrong & the bats find perfect new homes where people won’t decide they have to move on again.  http://www.wollondillyadvertiser.com.au/news/local/news/general/foxes-could-fly-in-to-macarthur/1859620.aspx

A COMPANY accused of allowing illegal tree trimming in an environmentally protected zone on a prime Hastings Point Property says it was carrying out maintenance.  http://www.tweednews.com.au/story/2010/06/08/officers-swoop-on-hastings-point-site/

The EU is set to finally ban illegal timber in 2012 with MEPs to vote on the proposal in July with the European Council voting in autumn. Companies will be required to state where their timber was harvested. This is a terrific move with up to 40% of the world’s wood production thought to come from illegally logged tropical forests. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science_and_environment/10341925.stm

11 members of the US Congress have written to Prime Minister Rudd, urging him to fulfill an election promise to ban imports of illegally logged timber. http://www.smh.com.au/environment/stop-importing-illegal-timber-us-tells-rudd-20091214-ksd4.html

In magnificent news, the Sindh Forest Department Karachi Pakistan has decided to declare the entire mangrove forests of the Indus Delta as Protected Area. The mangrove forests are located at four geographic locations along 1,046 km of coastline. http://citynewspk.com/?p=7441

Also fantastic news, The Global Environment Facility will fund a “Great Green Wall,” a pan-African proposal to reforest the continent from west to east to battle desertification & reforest northern Africa. $119,000,000 (96 million euros) has been allocated to achieve this. The wall of forest would be more than 7,100 km (4,400 miles) long & average 15 km (9 miles) wide.  The Great Green Wall will travel through Burkina Faso, Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal & Sudan. http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100617/wl_africa_afp/chadafricasummitforestsdroughtenvironment

Fossils found in the Isle of Wight in England have shown the way Fig Wasps pollinate fig trees has remained unchanged for at least 34,000,000 years. Fig trees need wasps to transfer their pollen to other trees, while the wasps need figs to lay their eggs inside.  Each of the more than 800 species of Fig tree needs a specific wasp, just 1.5 mm long, to pollinate it.  For me, it’s nice to know that both the Fig Wasps & Fig trees existed 34,000,000 years ago. http://planetearth.nerc.ac.uk/news/story.aspx?id=742

There is a very interesting article with Agus Purnomo & Yani Saloh, Special Assistants to the President of the Republic of Indonesia for Climate Change regarding Indonesia’s pledge to reduce deforestation.  It’s a multifaceted issue involving palm oil developers, timber companies & the livelihoods for tens of millions of Indonesians. http://news.mongabay.com/2010/0614-indonesia_purnomo_saloh.html

Breakfast amongst the Grevillea flowers

This was the monthly Council Meeting. Clrs Thanos, Iskandar & Tsardoulias were absent. Clr Tsardoulias is in hospital so I wish him well & hope he has a speedy recovery.  Apologies for the length of this post. There was a lot on the agenda & I find it hard to be both brief & fair.  The following is my take of the proceedings & any mistakes are mine.

Old Marrickville Hospital Development This debate was recorded by 2SER radio.  A representative from Climate Action Newtown (CAN) addressed the Councillors saying that 500 households in the LGA receive updates about CAN’s activities &

I found these on a tree in Enmore

they constantly hear that the community want action about climate change on a local, state & federal government level. CAN believe making the development a 6 star sustainability site & carbon neutral, making it a fabulous opportunity to show real leadership to other councils across NSW.  (contact information for Climate Action Newtown is in the blogroll located in the left-hand column).

Clr Phillips moved a notice of motion that the development of the hospital site be designed to achieve a 6 star sustainability rating & carbon neutrality saying it was important that Marrickville Council lead on environmental issues & set a good example. He cited Council House Two in Melbourne as an example saying it may cost a bit more, but will pay for itself in the long run.  While Clrs Wright & Marcri said they were concerned about upfront costs, all Councillors supported the motion.  A staff member advised Marrickville Council had at last count $4M – $5M value in unencumbered property. Clr Phillips said that the costs could be an impediment, but CO2 also has costs to society & the environment & that this kind of development should be the standard in new buildings.  Carried unanimously.

Support for the 100% Renewable: Community campaign for clean energy. A community representative associated with CAN & with the 100% Renewable Campaign (national grassroots campaign calling for Australia to switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources to mitigate climate change) addressed the Councillors saying this campaign was a great way to engage the community. She spoke about the campaign & asked for Council & government support saying Council’s support would send a strong signal to the community about renewable energy.

The motion by Clr Phillips was 1. Provide a link on Council’s website 2. Mention its support in the Inner West Courier 3. Co-sponsor a banner to be hung from Newtown Town Hall for 1 month 4. Give a grant of $500 for campaign materials. Clr Wright asked about costs & staff said each banner costs around $700 & if it comes out of the Contingency Fund it can only be to support incorporated organisations.  CAN is incorporated, but 100% Renewable is not.  Clr Wright supported points 1 & 2, but not points 3 & 4.  Clr Hanna supported points 1, 2 & 3, but not point 4 saying that garbage on the streets was more important & this money belonged to the ratepayers.

Clr O’Sullivan supported Clr Wright’s comments suggesting it may be more fruitful for CAN to apply to Council for a community grant. She could not support point 4.  Clrs Kontellis & Byrne supported motion in full with Clr Byrne suggesting CAN apply for a community grant anyway.  Motion carried. Clrs Phillips, Byrne, Kontellis, Peters & Olive supporting & Clrs Wright, O’Sullivan, Hanna & Macri against.

Affordable Housing. This was definitely one of the agenda items where I think it would be hard to be a Councillor.  The gallery had around 17 young people who were members of a group called Centrepiece Queer Art Collective.  One of their members addressed the Councillors & the debate was recorded by 2SER. She spoke about how the Collective are homeless & have been squatting in the old Marrickville Hospital. Council have asked them to leave so an audit can be done for fire safety issues. The Collective wanted to be allowed to use the building if it is

tree canopy

deemed safe & said they had the local fire station assess the area & do an informal inspection.  The Fire Brigade said exit signs & smoke alarms would be sufficient. She asked how come they could organise a fire check in 1 afternoon & Marrickville Council couldn’t in 15 years saying this was “bureaucracy before human needs.”

A resident in the street spoke in support for the Collective saying he bought 12 years ago & was told development was imminent, yet the building has remained empty.  He said the building could have been used for housing & Council should consider what they can do to remove fire & health hazards & support this group of responsible homeless young people. He said they created no problems for the local residents.

Clr Byrne wanted to add to the motion that Council write to the state government about providing more affordable housing. She said the old Marrickville Hospital site is in Major Projects, but there are financial aspects, fire safety audits were done 2007 & 2008 & there were key reasons why Council can’t allow the young people to live in that site. She said it would be morally corrupt to allow people to use it because of asbestos on site.  She also said Council staff have found housing for the Collective & Metro Housing Group is offering 12 months accommodation.  She said Council has just worked on the Draft LEP to provide flexibility in industrial areas to provide live/work areas for our creative residents.

It was a long debate where all Councillors acknowledged the difficulty of homelessness, the demand for housing & the availability of affordable housing. Clrs Byrne, Hanna, Macri, Phillips, Kontellis, Peters, Olive  & O’Sullivan spoke on the issue. They were concerned for the Collective, but could not agree to allow them to live in a building that was unsafe. Clr Peters asked staff to outline recent developments about affordable housing in the LGA.  The staff member said Council has applications for Boarding Houses & the Dept Housing has more houses in the area. He said the biggest growth was through St George & Metro Housing who have probably added 30-40 houses, but the reality is affordable housing has got less. The motion was for Council to explore potential use of unoccupied buildings, audit these buildings & assess the costs to make them liveable dwellings & ensure any development of Council owned property contains affordable housing.  Carried unanimously.

Protect our National Parks from privatisation. Motion by Clr Byrne for Council to write to Frank Sartor Minister for the Environment & Climate Change,  requesting he withdraw his bill to allow commercial development in National Parks & ensure any attempts to increase visitor numbers are done with the best interests of local communities & local environments.  Carried unanimously.

Third Quarter Performance Report 2009-2010 & GST Compliance Certificates. Received & noted. Carried unanimously.

Annette Kellerman Aquatic Centre Plan of Management. There was some discussion regarding the café, with Clr Olive asking what happens if the café ceases to operate, does it return to the control of Council. Staff said they would seek legal advice. Clr O’Sullivan had some concerns regarding the restrictive nature of the contact citing the clause ‘no use of butter’ as an example.  Staff said there was a 1½ page nutritional statement to serve as guidelines for minimal standards of food served by the café so we don’t end up with pie & chips. Carried unanimously.

Safety around Sydenham Station. Clr O’Sullivan said that residents have started a Clean Up Sydenham campaign as they are concerned about safety walking from the station to Unwins Bridge Road past the derelict Station Masters house & another empty house & rubbish in this area.  Motion to ask Railcorp to clean up, remove weeds & overhanging vegetation & for Council to advise of options for improving amenity & safety. Carried unanimously.

Henry Tax Review & Housing Affordability. Clr Phillips spoke briefly about the report & said given that affordable housing comes up in Council debates he would like fellow Councillors to be familiar with it & said Council should be writing to all levels of government about affordable housing. Carried unanimously.

Energy Efficient Street Lighting. Clr Peters put forward a motion to request Energy Australia to replace all street-lights with energy efficient bulbs on main roads throughout the LGA & to notify residents of Council’s action.  Clr Wright moved an amendment that instead of writing to residents about this, to notify them via Council’s website, Marrickville Matters & rates notices to save money. This was accepted by Clr Peters. Clr Olive said he wasn’t against writing directly to residents as they needed to know both sides of the story & this may push the supplier into action. Carried unanimously.

Support for Refugees & 2010 World Refugee Week. Clr Peters wanted Council to promote a rally on Saturday 26th June 2010 saying many residents of Marrickville

native grass

LGA are refugees. She said we would like the federal government to lift the freeze & close Curtin & Christmas Island detention centres immediately. Clr Wright said she noticed Council displayed a banner at Petersham Town Hall & would now be doing the same at Newtown, Sydenham, St Peters & Marrickville Town Halls at the cost of $2,500. She said she would rather use the money on people rather than on banners.  Clr Peters asked for guidance from staff as to the issue of reuse of banners by Council.

Clr Phillips said it was “atrocious” what the government has done with refugees saying it is “back to the dark days of Howard.”  He was worried that sewing lips & self-harming would start again. He said it was “the regime of cruelty with people behind razor wire just because of their mode of arrival.” Clr Kontellis supported the motion saying Council should be taking supportive action & said the government’s action on refugees was appalling. Carried unanimously.

Meeting concluded.

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