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This week’s Council meeting was the Land Use, Assets & Corporate Committee Meeting. The following is how I understood the meeting. I have not included items that did not attract full debate. Any mistakes are mine.

1. Local Traffic Committee Advisory Meeting:

Old RSL site Illawarra Road Marrickville. The Traffic Committee recommended the DA “be supported in its present form, given that there are no significant adverse impacts on traffic or parking.” The DA proposes 180 residential units with 171 parking spaces

Now empty Marrickville RSL building on Illawarra Road looking down Byrnes Road

for residents, visitors & shoppers. The developer amended the DA removing the supermarket, using smaller trucks & moving the loading bay to Byrnes Street.

A resident who spoke against the report said she has collected 1,114 signatures against the DA from the local community who are concerned with the bulk, height & scale of the development & believe it will bring significant traffic onto already congested Illawarra Road.  She said Council was underestimating traffic movement in & out of the development & living next to railway stations did not mean people didn’t own cars. She spoke about the current parking difficulties saying many patrons of the previous RSL either walked or came by courtesy bus or taxis.

Clr O’Sullivan put up an alternative motion: that the Councillors note that the Traffic Committee believes there will be no problems with parking, but the Councillors advise the JRPP Secretariat of residents’ concerns regarding the validity of traffic projections contained in the applicants traffic study & request that any consent conditions have minimal or no impact on surrounding streets.

Clr O’Sullivan expressed concern about traffic saying Councillors are dependent on our Officers as Secretariat of JRPP to determine a sensitive, future-orientated response to the DA & talking about traffic is different from experiencing it.

Clr Thanos opposed the amended motion saying that it didn’t achieve anything because Council staff had assessed the traffic impact & believed there will be no traffic impacts & the motion was misleading to Council staff, residents & JRPP.  He asked whether the motion was asking staff to change their minds & felt the JRPP will ignore a motion like this.   He spoke about providing housing around transport nodes saying no one owns parking spaces on public streets & the number of cars people choose to own is their decision.

Fire Wheel flowers

Clr Olive said he agreed with a lot of what Clr Thanos said, but he also thought there were valid points in the amended motion & would be supporting it.  He said even though staff have made recommendations, this doesn’t mean we can’t make things better.  He spoke about looking at traffic minimalisation by placement of driveways, entrances, sizes of entrances as examples & thought the report was coming from the position of looking at the previous DA.  He said Councillors should be expressing the community’s concerns so the JRPP can look at the issue closely.

Clr Phillips supported the amended motion saying it highlights the problem of the JRPP being the decision maker instead of Councils & it’s important for Councillors to voice their concerns.  He was not convinced there will be no impact on traffic & reminded that there will be further development in this area.

Clr Peters reminded everyone that the JRPP just approved a development at the Newtown RSL site that is to be a 66-room hotel, RSL Club, retail with only 17 parking spaces.

Clr O’Sullivan said that her motion was minimalist in that it only takes into account the traffic &, though she agreed with much of what Clr Thanos said, she said Councillors were representing the community’s interest for both the short & long term. She said the JRPP took heed of community concerns regarding the Tempe Depot development.  Carried with Clr Thanos against.

– Mobility Parking spaces – One was approved in Terminus St Petersham & another rejected in Lymerston St Tempe because there was a space within 10 metres of the property.  Clr Thanos said that every time someone wants a parking space, they claim disability. He said if it were important to the resident, they would have come to speak at the meeting.  The Director recommended that the refusals be referred back to the Traffic Committee following proper procedure to prevent any appeal. Carried with Clrs Thanos & Peters against.

2. Report on Marrickville Transport Planning & Advisory Committee 20 May 2010 – Clr Tsardoulias said he had questions regarding the position of stops on the Light Rail.  Clr Byrne said she was disappointed Railcorp is not providing a public toilet in the ‘unpaid’ area of Newtown Railway Station & hoped they would drop the access fee regarding airport access as this will increase use of public transport to the airport.  Clr Thanos said he thought the access fee would not be dropped, mentioning that Airport Services use Council’s parking spaces at Tempe for their own employees. Carried.

3. Council Infrastructure for investment for Healthy, Safe & Happy Children’s Home/School Journeys – Council surveyed schools & families regarding the pedestrian routes used to travel to school seeking to learn about obstacles/problems that made this difficult or unsafe with the aim to create child-friendly routes.

Clr Byrne was unhappy that Tempe High School, Tempe Primary School & St Peters Public School were not included in the survey.  Clr Olive agreed with the direction of the report, but wanted it noted that Council was not proposing an increase in the budget for this.  He said people were expressing excitement about what they thought would happen, but in reality Council won’t be able to do much in the next 10 years.  He gave the cost of a traffic light at $120,000 as an example. He said he was not against increasing the budget for this.  Motion carried.

4. Floodplain Management Advisory Committee Meeting report April 2010 – recommending the report be adopted, especially the Eastern Channel Flood Study.   Clr O’Sullivan mentioned the substantial risk of flooding in Marrickville & St Peters industrial areas.  Clr Phillips mentioned climate change & extreme rain events citing Kogarah coast & Mackey Park deemed at risk.  He said the science around climate change is changing rapidly with scientists thinking there will be a sea rise of 1-2 metres this century so did not want to see this study predicated on a ½ metre sea rise.

Clr Olive asked how much it was going to cost & whether Council would be approaching the state & federal governments for money.  The Director said he did not know at this stage.  Carried unanimously.

5. Membership of Wollongong City Council of Westpool & United Independent Pools – public liability, professional indemnity, personal accident, motor vehicle, property & travel insurance.

Clr Phillips expressed concern admitting a Council into an insurance scheme that doesn’t have a good track record.  A staff member advised extensive due diligence was undertaken by 3 Pools leading up to Wollongong Council requesting to join & all 3 Pools were concerned about Wollongong Council’s application, especially around professional indemnity insurance. The only exposure Marrickville Council will have concerns motor vehicles & property. Clr Phillips was happy with this. Carried unanimously.

6. Council investments at 30 April 2010, Changes to Code of Meeting Practice, Update on status of petitions & Status update, Councillor Conferences, Outstanding Reports, Action Arising from Notice of Motions & Mayoral Minutes were dealt with together.

Gum flowers

Clr Peters asked about the workshops & expert external input regarding Marrickville Council’s Urban Forest Program & whether it was still Council’s intention to provide this to Councillors.  The Director said Councillors would have a conference at the end of June & a draft is ready to put to Council. Clr Phillips said she recalled a motion by Clr O’Sullivan last February that Councillors would be given education workshops & external input regarding  tree management & now we will be getting the plan without the workshops.  The Director said Council can do this.  All items carried.

I remember discussion previously was to provide Councillors with training workshop about the issues surrounding greening the LGA. The emphasis was on getting external experts to provide an alternative view to removing 1,000 trees per year for the next 5 years that was recommended in February 2010.  It appears to me that the Trees Strategy Issues  Paper is being brought back to the Councillors with a new name: The Urban Forest Plan & training for Councillors on this issue is no longer suggested  by staff.

7. Rescission motion by Clr Macri regarding previous decision to put 2 restricted parking spaces on Marrickville Rd Marrickville. Clr Marcri said Councillors did not follow usual procedure, there was no support from the community for the motion & the numbers were against any changes.  He said the issue should have gone through the proper channels back to the Traffic Committee.

Clr Hanna said businesses in Marrickville Road had difficulty keeping staff because of parking fines. He mentioned that some councilors thought the $10 fee for parking in the Frampton St car park was too cheap, whereas Leichhardt Council provides it free. Clr Phillips said the café owner asked for 2 parking spaces, the process was transparent & if there are complaints from the community he would be happy to revisit the issue.  Clr Macri said it was about democracy, that the survey was heavily against any parking restriction, it should have been advertised & taken to the Traffic Committee.  Clrs Macri, Hanna, Tsardoulias & O’Sullivan voted to rescind.  The rescission motion was lost & the meeting concluded.

Next was the Services Committee Meeting.

8. Branch Operational Costs –  Clr Thanos declared a particular interest in libraries saying Council should saving money now to get a new library with many services up & running soon. To do this he believed some libraries in the LGA would need to be closed. Clr Phillips said he wouldn’t support closing libraries, but said there could be a new library at the Marrickville Hospital site when it was developed.  Clr Byrnes was against closing libraries saying they provide many more services to the community than simply book loans. Clr Hanna didn’t support closing libraries yet, but said he would once a new library was built.  Carried.

9.  Review of Major Community Events & Community Cultural Events Programs

gorgeous bark

Motion moved to defer item until Mayor Iskandar returns from his Sister Cities visits  because he has had significant input & should be able to contribute. Clr Thanos supported deferral & said he will be voting against all events in preference for having money for a new library. Clr Olive said he was unhappy that the Cooks River Festival has gone to Canterbury Council & would be arguing for Council’s retention & involvement in this festival.  He said both the Council & the Cooks River Committee’s involvement have been instrumental in good things happening at the Cooks River. Clrs Tsardoulias, Peters, Kontellis against motion to defer. Carried.

Here ends Report from the Gallery for this week.

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Land Use, Assets & Corporate Committee Meeting followed by the Services Committee Meeting.  Councillors Tsardoulias, Iskandar, Thanos, Kontellis were absent.  Clr Hanna left at the conclusion of the first committee’s business due to illness.

A lot happened in these meetings & there was much discussion.  I felt that simplifying the post to shorten its length would not do the Councillors & their arguments justice, so have decided to post in 2 parts. The following is my take on the meeting & any mistakes are mine.

Local Area Traffic Management Scheme:

Item B3 Sydenham Local Traffic.  As I understand the issue, vehicles use Florence & Mary Street Sydenham to travel between Unwins Bridge Road & Princes Hwy.

Wattle about to bloom

9,000 cars & trucks travel through Mary Street per day. 3 residents from Florence & Mary Streets addressed the Councillors, all supporting the scheme that Council was, in part, not recommending.  The residents said 66 signatures were collected from the (almost all) residents of Mary Street asking Council to stop vehicles speeding in Florence & Mary Streets. They said both these streets are dangerous to pedestrians & for people getting in & out of cars.  They cited 50 kph zones in Florence Street & Unwins Bridge Road despite having different uses.  They wanted Florence Street to become 40 kph with at least 1 speed hump & they were prepared to pay for the speed humps if Council couldn’t afford to install them.

Clr O’Sullivan put up a motion to install speed humps in Florence Street & for Council to commit to approach the RTA to make the street 40 km zone. Seconded by Clr Hanna who said he has never witnessed residents saying they will pay for speed humps.  Clr Olive supported the motion saying the residents say they need them & it is an appropriate place to put speed humps. He wanted Council to investigate the feasibility for a raised crossing for the pram ramps.

Clr Macri said this decision may be a ‘trail-blazer’ for other streets. He thought 40 km was quite reasonable for residential streets & said Council should approach the RTA about rezoning speed limits.  He asked staff whether plastic bolted down speed humps were comparable in cost to the ones built onsite. Staff advised the costs are comparable.  Clr Phillips also supported lower speeds in residential streets & asked about the costs associated.  Motion adopted.

Item C3 – parking in Marrickville Road. A café owner in Marrickville Road addressed the Councillors saying that many businesses in the area do not have parking as train commuters park there all day & requested 1 hour parking restrictions in this section of Marrickville Road.

Clr Olive said he was not confident in 1 hour parking just for this area. Clr Peters said she supported 1 hour parking on Marrickville Road citing that commuters park all day free & Council cannot provide free parking.

nice looking planter box

Clr Hanna said he did not want to be put in a position where local business could not keep staff because they were getting parking fines so was against any parking restriction.  Clr Phillips suggested a 6-month trial saying Council received 6 submissions out of the 15 flyers distributed & this was insufficient. He put up an amendment to trial 1 hour parking for 6 months & then review to see if it has worked.  Seconded by Clr Peters.

Clr Wright thought the amendment was okay, but reminded that Council had the idea for just a few spaces with 1 hour parking. Said she would put up a foreshadowed motion later.  Then a staff member advised Clr Phillips’ motion was contrary to the recommendation in the paper. Clr Phillips withdrew his amendment saying he would support Clr Wright’s foreshadowed motion. (Confused yet? I was.)

Clr  Macri said Council only received 6 submissions of which 4 were against changes & he wanted a more thorough community consultation.  Clr Peters said Council was intending to provide parking to business owners in Frampton Avenue.  Chair Clr O’Sullivan called for a vote on the recommendation as it was.  Defeated.

Clr Hanna said that he & Clr Macri were often approached regarding parking issues on Marrickville Road & said it was unfair to do it because 4 out of 6 submissions said they didn’t want restrictions.  Clrs Phillips & Peters said they would support parking restrictions with Clr Peters saying Council was going to provide parking for business owners.  She said we want to provide more turnover in parking for shoppers & Council cannot provide free parking for commuters & business owners.  Carried. (Here I think what was carried was the instigation of 1 hour parking in this area of Marrickville Road).  I wonder how long it will be before metered parking will be introduced in our shopping strips to make money for Marrickville Council. They have proved to be a great revenue maker for Leichhardt Council as an example).

Items Council investments as of 31st March 2010, Status update, petitions & Councillors Access to information All were noted.  Clr Phillips asked staff whether Council were still intending to have consultation with Councillors regarding the Tree Strategy Issues Paper.  The GM said the paper would be put to the general management team in May, then have a series of Councillor conferences with independent experts also being involved.  All carried.  Meeting finished.  Clr Hanna excused himself from the next meeting because of illness.

Local wildlife

I recently came across a video segment from the program Stateline on ABC from March 2010 where they discussed the dollar value of trees.  This video discusses the following & more:

  • The loss of Adelaide’s street & park trees for lack of water
  • Melbourne has decided to water their street & park trees
  • A real estate agent talking about how both street trees & trees on the property increase the value of the property
  • How much trees are actually worth
  • What it will be like to live in an area that has few or no trees
  • Councils used to irrigate street trees
  • Residents used to give trees both on their property & in front of their property regular watering
  • The cost of watering trees to save their life far outweighs the cost of losing a tree through lack of water
  • How the fact that a tree is not a native somehow gives permission for it to be cut down
  • Trees can be worth as much as $100,000
  • Trees are assets & investments which appreciate over time

roots of a big, beautiful Fig

In Melbourne, they are talking about how their 100-year-old trees are “an extremely valuable asset” while Marrickville Council talks about our older trees as “senescent” & past their time.  You may remember earlier this year Marrickville Council put up a plan before the Councillors to remove many of the old trees over the next 5 years.  The designated amount was 1,000 trees to be removed per year for 5 years targeting senescent trees.  Thankfully the Councillors did not accept this Tree Strategy Issues Paper, but it was a close call & a revised Paper will be returning for consideration soon.

This video is 7 minutes duration.  I whole-heartedly recommend watching it.  If you do, check out the hole in one of the larger trees right at the end.  I have seen a

Pine tree in Brighton le Sands

tree like that closer to home along the beachfront at Brighton-le-Sands.  A few of the tall pines had substantial holes in their trunks. Rather than chopping them down, Rockdale Council had the rot treated & the hole cemented allowing the tree to remain stable & continue to live for the benefit of the community.  I would imagine those trees are heritage listed.

When I was a child, it was quite common for a Tree Surgeon (as Arborists were called then), to be employed to save trees on private property. I remember watching them scrapping out the hole, using chemicals to stop the disease & filling the hole with cement, just like a dentist fills dental caries.  I saw trees bolted together if they had a split in their trunk & other such things that seem to be out of vogue today.  Nowadays, the simplest intervention seems to be to cut the tree down saying “everything has to die.”  True, but many tree species live far longer than what we are led to believe.  Melbourne is proof of this.

As we have been in a long & protracted drought that is not over yet, trees dying from lack of water is going to become a significant issue, especially if the culture changes & trees are truly recognised as significant green assets.  We may yet return to the days where Councils water the public trees & property owners take care of the trees on their property as well as the tree out front.  I have my fingers

lovely Fig in Enmore Park

crossed.  Already around the municipality there are trees dying.  Some of them were stunners that now stand brown & present a danger of falling, damaging property & perhaps a risk to life.  I find it sad as many of these tree deaths could have been averted if they had been watered.

Another article in the same vein that may be of interest says Adelaide City Council is considering putting a dollar value on its trees following in the footsteps of Melbourne.  This may lead to developers being required to compensate for the trees they say they need to chop down by planting trees to that dollar value.  So if trees are valued at $100,000, they will be required to plant trees to that value.  I’m hoping it may bring business to those tree companies who are skilled at large tree relocation.  Relocation costs may actually be cheaper than paying for the trees that would be lost if chopped down.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/04/13/2870993.htm

The Stateline video & a transcript of the main points can be accessed by clicking on the following link- http://www.abc.net.au/news/video/2010/03/26/2857693.htm

This beautiful tree-lined walk along the Cooks River offers respite from the city's hectic life. The tall trees which make this section special.

Alexis, Roman, Paris & Noah are going to lose their mark on the neighbourhood because this tree has got to go

Apart from the 3 trees in Ivanhoe Street, there is also a Fig tree up for removal in Steele Park Marrickville South.  I received the following information about this tree.  Unfortunately, this tree should be removed as it will become dangerous.  Thankfully, it will be replaced with a Moreton Bay Fig.  Thanks to Marrickville Council for the following information.

The removal of the tree is necessary as there has been a failure of one of multiple trunks attached at ground level. All of these trunks have major inclusions associated with a large amount of end-weight producing a significant lever-arm stress. This was the cause of failure of the subject trunk. Additionally the failure exposed a large amount of root crown decay at & below ground level.

The present structural defects associated with the root crown decay & the exposure to further decay by way of the large wound make the retention of the tree unmanageable.  The tree is close enough to no. 16 Thornley St for it to present an unacceptable risk of failure & property damage at some point in the future.  It is proposed to be replaced with a Moreton Bay Fig of size 100L or greater.

Don’t forget, the deadline for submissions regarding the 3 street trees in Ivanhoe Street Marrickville South closes this coming Monday 8th March.  Please send in a submission asking these trees be retained if you agree.  You can read about them here –https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/02/27/4-trees-up-for-removal-in-marrickville-south/

The post contains a hyperlink directly to council’s web-site where you can write your submission.

Fig at Steele Park that is to be removed - you can see it has already lost one branch

I ask that you put in a submission even if the trees are not located near you.  All tree removal has an impact on the green canopy of Marrickville LGA.  This month it’s Marrickville South, next month it may be Camperdown, Newtown or Dulwich Hill.

Just last month, Marrickville Council put up their Tree Strategy Issues Paper for the Councillors to vote on.  Had they voted to pass the paper, we would now be losing 1,000 mature trees a year for the next 5 years.

A pie chart in the document showed Council wants to remove 59% of the public trees across Marrickville LGA.  I was shocked when I read this.

The Tree Strategy Issues Paper is to return to the Councillors for voting 5 or so months from now.  If Council thought it was reasonable to recommend the removal of 59% of its trees, I would think it is likely they will continue to push for a great percentage to be removed.  If this is indeed what happens, the community will be required to put in many submissions if we want a chance of retaining these trees.

It would be great if we supported each street, each area when each comes under threat, even if we don’t live there, because the lumberjacks will be in your area & perhaps your street eventually.  This is one issue where the community could seriously help & benefit each other without much time & effort.

A submission need not be a large document.  It can be a few lines, a paragraph or more & you can write whatever you want.  I have noticed that submissions received from the community are taken seriously both by Council staff & the Councillors.

If just 1% of the LGA sent in a submission, not only would we probably set a record for mail submissions, we would also probably rewrite the agenda when it comes to greening the LGA.

If we do nothing, then we are going to be living in an area where 59% of our trees will be gone, which will affect us in many ways   (see the pages 100 Tree Facts & About Street Trees on this site for more information about this).

Another serious effect of denuding the LAG of mature trees is our urban wildlife who will be drastically affected.  Much of the current trees do not provide food or shelter for them.  I doubt they could withstand the removal of so many trees.  Imagine no birds, except maybe the resiliant Indian Mynas.  Imagine no possums.

Last Friday, I was called to Excelsior Parade Marrickville, home of ‘The Pride of Excelsior.’ (see Shame Page) “Energy Australia are pruning the trees.”  I arrived just as they were finishing.  Whether due to recent bad publicity plaguing the energy companies or just a good crew of contractors, they had done a good job.

Energy Australia removed only what was necessary

I always give credit where when it’s due. This is one such occasion.  I have been worried about these trees knowing that Energy Australia were due.  This time there were only a few branches on the road & they had taken care not to over prune.

Interestingly, a small crowd had gathered to assess the work, indicating that others hold these trees in high esteem as well.

The trees are Brush Box, large & old, just the type that Council have recommended to be chopped down & replaced in their Tree Strategies Issues Paper (see last post).  No one knows when these trees were planted, but the housing was built in 1915.  Older residents said the trees went in around that time.  They form a canopy over the street & support a myriad of wildlife.  Everyone who comes to this street mentions the beauty of these trees.  Even the real estate agents mention them in their advertising when a house is up for sale & I am sure the house prices reflect their presence.

A Fire-Wheel tree (Stenocarpus sinuatus, Wheel of Fire, White Beefwood, White Oak for those of you who like botanical names) had to be topped for the cables.  This native species of tree can grow to 40m, but more commonly to 15m in cultivation.  Question is, why was this tree planted under electricity wires around 5 years ago? It will continue to grow & by the time Energy Australia return, the trunk will have grown taller.  Routine pruning will then turn this tree into a flat umbrella & Council will probably chop it down.  In Los Angles, Fire-Wheels are classified as heritage trees & they are described as a ‘fragile tree.’ So, well done Energy Australia.  Thank you for leaving the trees looking beautiful.  I am sure the community will be happy you did.

Integral Energy butchered these street trees in Valentine Ave Blacktown

Not so for the residents of Valentine Avenue Blacktown & Browning Crescent Lalor Park, who complained about the pruning practices of Integral Energy contractors recently.  (see my posts More butchering of street trees & Bakers dozen or it dozen matter).  Curious to see just how bad the damage was & to compare with what has happened in Marrickville LGA, we took a trip there last weekend to see the trees. What a shocker!  They were butchered & the residents were entitled to complain.

Compare the two trees

The visit was worthwhile on a number of fronts.  I now know that Blacktown Council took action to prevent savage over-pruning, whereas in cases of severe over pruning in Marrickville LGA no action seems to have been taken.  Marrickville Council also can intervene in the future, rather than sit back & allow our assets to be destroyed.

Tree-lined M4 which must assist local wildlife

I haven’t been on the M4 for a while.  After leaving the eyesore of Parramatta Road, which seriously needs the intervention of multiple councils, we reached the expressway.  This has become a green corridor as the trees planted for the Olympics have grown & now present a tall, lush, green screen.  It is quite an achievement to make a highway look nice, but they have done it.

I also discovered that Blacktown, Seven Hills & Lalor Park are as green as Eastwood.  There are tall trees everywhere, many of them Eucalypts & it is impossible to count the trees on the horizon. I think Blacktown Council has done well regarding street trees. I found other articles about the recent pruning of street trees & in other locations the Blacktown area.  From the Blacktown Sun – http://www.blacktownsun.com.au/news/local/news/general/pruning-vandalism/1729453.aspx & another from the Blacktown Advocate – http://blacktown-advocate.whereilive.com.au/your-news/story/why-is-energy-australia-mutilating-blacktowns-trees/ & from the Cumberland Courier – http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/your-news/comments/why-is-energy-australia-mutilating-blacktowns-trees/

During my research I was stunned to read that Blacktown City Council gives away 70,000 trees every year free to residents as part of the Visionary Greening Of Blacktown Program.  It’s working.  Then I came across “more than 7,000 native trees have been planted in Fairfield as part of Blacktown City Council Council’s Regenesis Project.” (Aug & Sept 09) http://www.streetcorner.com.au/news/showPost.cfm?bid=11987&mycomm=WC A look at Blacktown Council’s web-site revealed more.  Over 500 residents & businesses people helped plant 23,370 native trees, shrubs & grasses over 8 month period ending June 09. http://www.blacktown.nsw.gov.au/news-and-events/news-releases/wow-23370-trees-planted-since-october.cfm

The Sikh temple & a street in the new housing estate

Even the Sikh Centre, a massive temple, has been given an Environment Grant ($4,200) to rejuvenate the local streetscape, as this is a new housing development with building still under way.

Blacktown City Council has done a Tree Inventory & they also have a Significant Tree Register.  Our Council has  neither & at present have no intention to do so.

I’m going to stop now because I sound like I have set up the Blacktown City Council Fan Club.  http://www.bccfanclub.org.au for your free t-shirt! (NOTE: no such web-site) This research started because I wanted to know why our Council ignores what happens to our street trees & Blacktown Council doesn’t.  Now I can see why.  It’s also good to know what other Council’s are doing about street trees & over-all greening of their municipality so we know what is a reasonable expectation.

Back to the Brush Box trees on Excelsior Parade.  These trees are also at risk of being damaged by passing trucks.  Residents in the area are campaigning on a number of issues & one of their concerns is that long semi-trailers on Excelsior Parade will destroy the trees.  Considering the damage heavy vehicles have caused to trees in the nearby Carrington Road (see post –https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/01/05/5th-january-2010-saved-by-the-land-environment-court-maimed-by-trucks/) I think their concerns are justified. To view their concerns go to the Council Gripe web-site at – http://councilgripe.com/content/marrickville-council-police-inaction-re-traffic-safety-warren-road-marrickville

Top right shows the overhead cables cut across the corner-the trees here were scooped out even though they were a fair distance from the cables

The Marrickville Council Tree Strategy Issues Paper was up for voting last night & what a doozey of a meeting it turned out to be.  It’s clear there are very strong & opposing views about public trees & the community cannot afford to be uninvolved when our turn comes to contribute.

Some good news before I report on this.  Council unanimously & with much enthusiasm voted in favour of the creation of a new community garden in Denison Street Dulwich Hill.  3 residents spoke in favour of setting up a community garden citing the many benefits it will provide to the community. Council then went on to say that any resident can apply to have a community garden set up in any council owned disused space or reserve in the municipality.  There is mention of this on council’s web-site.

Now back to the Trees Strategy Issues Paper (TSIP).  3 residents addressed the meeting.  While each speech addressed different issues, all of us were against the recommendation to remove 1,000 trees per year for the next 5 years.  Although the TSIP says Council intends to plant replacement trees, their own report states a significant percentage of new tree plantings fail.  Since 1972 Marrickville LGA has planted approximately 42,500 street trees.  Today we have 20,000 street trees.  The numbers speak for themselves.

Other points raised that I recall were:

  • Essential that the councillors themselves be knowledgeable about the value & benefits of public trees & tree management before voting to remove 59% of trees within Marrickville LGA.
  • The need for education, communication & consultation with the community about trees.
  • Climate change, the heat island effect, the benefits of trees, the value of mature trees, strategies to look after trees to retain them, history & continuity that mature trees bring, the streetscape & character of Marrickville LGA, supporting increasing the tree canopy, better choice & placement of street trees & the need to care for this significant asset.
  • The recommendation not to establish a Significant Tree Register was also very disappointing, as was the lack of a Tree Inventory.  It is essential the Council knew what its only appreciating asset was & an inventory would serve to keep a record of our history even if trees were removed.
  • The good points were acknowledged as was the work staff had done to prepare the TSIP.

With 3 minutes & a maximum of 6, all 3 of us felt pressed to cover everything needed in this time-frame.  You should try it at least once in your life.  Speaking at Council is much harder than I expected it to be.  You can read my speech here – Speech-MC-9_2_10

Clr Thanos seemed to take affront at the residents’ speeches saying that he was proud of Marrickville, proud of the tree planting that has happened, speaking at length about how we had misunderstood the TSIP.   Well, all 3 of us read it, the Greens understood the same message, as did Labor’s Clr O’Sullivan.  He also said we were using the issue of trees to pursue our own agenda.  For me this was true.  I am trying to save public trees inappropriately earmarked for removal, yet somehow he made my motivation sound like I was scum & he did this from the safety of ‘privilege.’

Clr Thanos needs to understand it is poor form to criticise residents after they have addressed Council suggesting they have no pride in their community & somehow want to take it down.

I will speak for myself, but I know the other speakers were taken aback with his comments.  I also know they care deeply about this issue & have spent a great deal of their leisure time over the years working to help improve this locality.

Melaleucas targeted by TSIP

Deciding to follow what is happening at Council, find documents on Council’s packed web-site, download documents that are often large, read & analyse them, devote time to preparing a speech, spending the evening at Council, the nerves associated with this & putting opinions out in the public arena, are not small things.  Public speaking is classified as the number 1 biggest fear people have, so I ask, why would we do all these things if we didn’t have pride in our LGA & if we weren’t trying to help bring improvements for the community?

Clr Thanos debated & debated.  Clr O’Sullivan added some valid points in an amendment.  She spoke of how she finds herself clinging to shade when she walks in her area because of the heat island effect.  She also spoke about how climate change has become a significant issue & that there have been advancements in tree care & approaches to public trees since this report was last submitted in 2007.  She cited other Councils & suggested that experts be brought in to educate about current trends.

Eucalypts targeted as well

Clr Hanna reasonably suggested that residents be consulted about what tree species to plant outside their houses & said if they had a choice in the matter they would more likely care for the tree.

The Greens spoke about their tree policy, done with consultation with some members of the community, but this was lost in the ensuing melee, which was again disappointing.  Clr Peters reminded us that it has been 17 years since Council has reviewed its Tree Policy saying this current TSIP was not productive.  Clr Olive & other members of the Greens tried many times to discuss certain points of the TSIP, but this was stopped by Clr Thanos with Clr Tsardoulias in the Chair ordering the Greens to stop for points of order.

The Greens suggested their amendment & Clr O’Sullivan’s amendment were really saying the same thing.  Eventually, this was passed.  1,000 trees get to live for another 6 months while a working party of councillors work on this TSIP.

It was unpleasant to be in the Gallery due to obstructionism from Clr Thanos & Clr Tsardoulias.  I gather this is accepted as the culture of this kind of workplace.  Just last week a Strathfield Council made the news due to a Councillor arguing with residents in the Gallery.  Eventually, this argument was continued out in the street. To read the Inner West Courier article – http://inner-west-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/strathfield-council-in-chaos/

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