Thursday, 25 October 2018

Foreshore petition to be presented on 29/10/18

Councillor Wendy Harrison will present the Toronto Foreshore Protection Group’s (TFPG) petition of 5157 signatures to Councillors on Monday 29th October. The petition is objecting to Council’s proposal for a multi-storey development on public land at Bath Street and seeking reclassification of the land to community parkland.

The TFPG is urging the community to attend the council meeting at 6:30pm to emphasise their support for the petition’s intent. Councillors and staff will be meeting within the next fortnight to discuss the Bath St site and the outcomes of the community consultation process.

Since April this year the TFPG has been collecting signatures at markets and events with
Nico Marcar finalising the petition
many local businesses also providing opportunities to sign. It’s been an amazing show of community support to protect the foreshore land at Bath Street from overdevelopment.

The TFPG have been rigorous about checking the validity of signatures trying to remove duplicate or erroneous entries, and even with a small margin for unforeseen errors it’s still over 5000 rate payers whose preferences are not being considered by the majority of Councillors.

Along with the petition, a submission will be delivered to Councillors detailing the history of the site, the actions of the TFPG and the issues around progressing the Bath St Development Application. The intent is to provide Councillors and Council staff with a detailed report of the group’s understanding of Council’s proposal to allay their concerns that the group is misinformed and to also provide positive recommendations.

The online petition provided an opportunity for people to post a comment, 194 people did!

Julie “We have so little foreshore in Toronto, please keep what little we have for our community to enjoy”

Richard “The proximity of this site to the foreshore makes it unsuitable for high-rise development. Council’s should be focused on long-term community needs, such as providing and safeguarding public spaces, rather than being proponents of commercially driven developments that remove public spaces. This site should be community land.”

Annette “Foreshore land is so scarce and special for everyone. No way I say”

Robert “Public land means public land”

Michele “I believe that there should be as much open space near the waterfront as possible so that everyone can use it. I don’t believe that our council should be ‘investors ‘ , that is not its role.”

Nigel “If the local community doesn’t want it, don’t build it!”

Natalia “The foreshore and parkland are very important part of the surrounding communities, don’t get rid of public space just to bring in more people! The area is already growing rapidly and they don’t have enough public space to go around as it is, there will only be MORE need for public space if more people come live in the area. If you develop an area, please develop responsibly, not stupidly.”

CPPA to speak at LMCC’s Public Forum on 29/10/18

Suzanne Pritchard will be speaking at the Public Forum at Council Chambers on Monday 29/10/18 at 5:30pm sharing the outcomes of the Threatened Species project, thoughts on
the Lakemac 2050 Strategy and  ideas to unify the environmental assets of the Toronto community. The address that was delivered is here.

Annual Squirrel Glider Nestbox survey

Hunter Intrepid Landcare and the CPPA will be teaming up for Squirrel Glider Surveying
Delight on the Saturday 3rd of November from 10am.

We’ll begin the morning, heading out onto the idyllic West Ridge of Coal Point to survey the presence of the Vulnerable Squirrel Glider (Petaurus norfolcensis) in nest boxes, as well as moving and replacing unused boxes to other spots within the reserve, before breaking for lunch and finishing up.

This event is at no cost. Lunch is provided.  


9:50am - begin arriving at the Progress Hall, 197 Skye Point Road, Coal Point – park at
Gurranba reserve. Landcare banners will be flying at the parking area. WHS induction

10:15am - car pool to Whitelocke St West Ridge Reserve entrance. From there we’ll survey the boxes containing previous evidence of Squirrel Glider activity, and move any disused boxes around the West Ridge Reserve.

1:00pm - begin carpooling back to the progress hall for lunch platters from Woolworths, and finish.

Requirements:: Long pants, hat, good sturdy shoes, drink bottle, keenness.

Please RSVP to Suzanne, so we know how many people are coming and for catering.

Another year of TASNG activity!

The Chair’s report – Nico Marcar

The Toronto Area Sustainable Neighbourhood Group held their AGM in October.

Once again TASNG has had a successful year thanks to the dedicated work of our committee, project leaders, members and friends. We maintain our broad focus in three areas: Recycling & Waste Management, Cycling & Pedestrian and Landcare. We maintain strong links with the Coal Point Progress Association (CPPA). The Chair acted as Treasurer in 2018.

This year we initiated a Repair Cafe project, in collaboration with Warners Bay SNG, the Boolaroo Women’s Shed and Upcycling Newcastle. Credit goes to Stephen Dewar, Lois Simpson and Cathy Stewart (Warners Bay SNG) for spearheading this project and successfully obtaining a Council Environmental Sustainability Grant. Two repair cafes have been held so far in Toronto and two in Warners Bay. Activities have included repairs to clothing, basic bicycle maintenance/repairs/checks and sharpening of garden hand tools.

Since developing plans in late 2017 for beautification of the entry into western Toronto with a native plant garden on Awaba Road, we now have sign off from Council, RMS and other agencies. We have received generous funding support from Centennial Coal, Origin Energy, the Toronto District Garden Club and Bunnings. Construction will commence shortly.

In April TASNG joined other community groups (CPPA, RMYC and Rotary Sunrise) to form a Toronto Foreshore Protection Group (TFPG) coalition to halt Council’s plans for a multi-storey development on Toronto’s foreshore at Bath Street, next to the RMYC. Numerous discussions and meetings with Councillors and Council staff have occurred. The TFPG organised a successful public meeting in September attended by over 450 people. A submission along with over 5000 petition signatures will be presented to Council.

With the CPPA, we continue to monitor DA applications in the area and work with residents to voice concerns over excessive development. It was very pleasing that our efforts were rewarded when the NSW Land & Environment Court rejected the development proposal at 2 Brighton Ave. Unfortunately, we were unable to stop Council’s acceptance of the excessive height of the 37 unit, non-compliant development at 151-155 Brighton Ave.

With the Alliance, we continue to be a strong voice for the abolition of single-use plastic bags locally and throughout NSW, engaging with businesses and supermarket chains in Toronto and other Lake Macquarie towns. With the Five Bays and other SNGs, ‘swap bag’ stations have been set up as well as lobbying of Cafes to use recyclable take away coffee cups. We again took part in Clean Up Australia day.

We continue our active campaign to develop a shared pathway between Kilaben Bay and Rathmines, with support from the Rathmines SNG, and have placed this issue, along with the need for other cycle path connections, with Council’s Active Transport Advisory group.

We are mindful of the need to engage more with residents of Kilaben Bay and Toronto. With Council, Disability Links, Five Bays SNG and others we have now organised two, well attended (100-150 people) community picnics on the Toronto Foreshore (Nov ‘17 and Feb ‘18) and a conversation cafe at the Toronto Library. Our next picnic is to be held in November.

Staying Engaged (TFPG)- Linda Ireland

If that title has caught your eye you probably think this is an article about marriage. Sorry. It’s not. Well not exactly. It’s about a separation. Only in this case the separation isn’t between a couple. It’s between the constituent and the politician. It’s what we might better term “disengagement”.

Most separations are fraught. There’s bitterness, resentment, name calling, accusations of unfairness, divided loyalties, an unconcealed regret at having chosen that party and trusted that person with the big decisions affecting your life. Then there’s the loss of trust.

When people lose trust, cynicism sets in. You hear expressions like,

” Those pollies are only in it for themselves.”

“They’re all as bad as each other.”

“Why bother voting. Nothing’s going to change.”

Expressions like these are symptomatic of political disengagement. It is unsurprising that so many Australians feel this way, given the goings on in politics in recent years. The problem is, being disengaged is a luxury which our democracy cannot afford. Take the 18 year old who shrugs their shoulders and expresses no interest in their first chance to vote. Disengagement has already set in before the first vote is placed. If it leads to inaction, nothing ever changes.

A robust democracy requires that all citizens of voting age make informed decisions at the ballot box. What a robust democracy we would have if we all made our representatives more accountable for the decisions they make on our behalf. How many of us take the time to write to a politician or a newspaper or online forum expressing our concern at government inaction or inappropriate actions?

Decisions are made regularly at a local, state and national level. These have impacts on our lives and the environment in which we live. We sometimes get mad about these decisions and feel frustrated and helpless. We express our outrage at the club or across the dinner table, but not enough of us convert outrage into action.

Political engagement starts at the local level.

At the moment we are seeing a group of local citizens expressing concern about Lake Macquarie City Council’s decisions around multi-story buildings on the foreshore. These people see something which they think is not in the best interests of the community or its foreshore and are actively engaged in fighting for this community. They see the loss of potential recreational space and the setting of precedents for such buildings around a foreshore whose special appeal is the very absence of such high-rise buildings, as issues worth getting involved in. They are urging those in the community who share their concerns to become actively involved through emails and phone calls to local councillors. A recent meeting of well over 400 people suggests there is the will in the community.

It is so important to find time to stay politically engaged in the midst of our busy lives. If we take the time to find out about candidates standing in our electorates and what they stand for, if we take the time to make those we vote for accountable for the decisions they make, then we are playing our part as engaged members of our Australian society both at a local community and broader level. Now that’s an engagement worth celebrating!

Ultimately, who is responsible for the kind of society that we have and the legacy we leave for future generations?

Keep a lookout for your trees!

A neighbour’s experience

In late September someone was out and about poisoning large trees in the Coal Point
area. Directly opposite the Progress Hall at No. 292-294 Skye Pt Road two large, 150 year old gum trees were deliberately poisoned via having large holes drilled in the base and Glyphosate poured in. Grass around the base of both trees was also killed. Council was informed but did not respond. The trees have already lost their canopies and look lost, what is not understood is how an ‘Arborist’ had attended unannounced and decided that at least one should be removed, without speaking to the owners.

As the owners we are determined to ensure the perpetrator/s cannot gain or profit from their bad deeds and the tree is not felled, it will be utilised as a Registered Hollow with the Sydney Botanical Gardens (as have a few other Hollows nearby) for study. The trees may have to be trimmed of some outer limbs for safety’s sake but the main trunk and ‘stumpy’ hollowed limbs should last a very long time. There is a sign on the tree, denoting that it is classed as ‘Significant’.

The owners tried a remedy from the Marrickville Community Tree Watch website for saving poisoned Gum Trees, watering in quantities of sugar around the drip line and trunk in an effort to save the only green limb on the lower part of the tree. Hopefully the rain assisted too, fingers crossed.

The incident has been reported to the Police and it is being recorded as Malicious Damage. If you saw anyone in the vicinity of the tree please report it to the police. 

What does it mean for us all…

Our leafy suburb provides a refuge not only for local wildlife but also as a beautiful place
to live; mental health benefits from being around greenery are well documented.

Trees also provide additional value as air conditioners, providing shade but they also protect surfaces such as paintwork, asphalt roads and footpaths from deterioration.

Trees are personal and community assets; by maintaining and protecting old trees we are increasing their value and that of the community. Trees add thousands of dollars to property value and you only have to look at the expensive suburbs of Sydney and they have one thing in common…big trees.

The value of trees also lies in their capacity to store carbon and with the recent IPCC report reiterating that global temperatures have been rising rapidly posing grave risks for humanity, every tree is part of the insurance policy protecting our planet.

Climate change is very real and very present. The CPPA President recently attended the Society of Ecological Restoration conference to present the findings from the Threatened Species project and it was very clear and reiterated throughout the event that climate change is here and not something in the future.

Tein McDonald - “Reversing climate change is mission critical but so is protecting and restoring biodiversity”

Bruce Pascoe “Don’t despair otherwise you are condemning the next generation, we must have hope, keep working and encourage the rest of the world"

By striving to maintain the integrity of our bushland suburb we are doing our bit, one tree at a time.

DAs In Play

DA419/2018 114-120 Cary St (next to Mcdonald’s) 

124 Dwellings, 2,872m commercial space, 293 parking spaces

The Hunter and Central Coast Regional Planning Panel met for 30 minutes on 30/8/18 . Key issues discussed included:
  • Site and surrounding uses and buildings, including heritage items, SEPP 14 and bushland. 
  • Height non-compliance (3 height controls, 10, 13, 16m), significant non-compliance will need very careful consideration and justification 
  • Clause 4.6 and visual impacts, whether Planning Proposal warranted 
  • No Floor Space Ratio control 
  • Separate access for commercial/residential, RMS views to come 
  • Rear Road widening – not reserved, though desired by Council engineers. Not proposed 
  • Site area, urban design and SEPP 65 Panel review process 
  • Consider measures to address bulk and scale

DA Done

DA/1835/2016 - 151 Brighton Avenue, previously Lifestyle marina now ‘Foreshore’ Mixed Use Development- Approved

Council endorsed the development standard variation under  Clause 4.6 of the Lake Macquarie Local Environmental Plan 2014, providing a maximum building height of 15.2m, exceeding the development standards of 13m and 10m.

It was with considerable community disappointment that the DA was approved and the building height allowed to be exceeded. This sets a worrying precedent for the foreshore not only in Toronto but across the city.

Some more parting comments from the petition...

Denise “The future needs open space not a crowded private waterfront.”

Arun “I live in the 2283 postcode, enough with blocking out the  Lake already!!”