Thursday, 23 April 2020

The foreshore and Bath street: local democracy, LMCC-style

On 23 April the Westlakes community ‘celebrated’ the second anniversary of the stalemate on Toronto’s foreshore.

On 23 April 2018, without any public consultation, Council decided to go ahead with a 4-6 storey ‘mixed use development’ (= apartment tower) on the Toronto foreshore at Bath Street, next to the Yacht Club. All other options were immediately set aside and Council locked in.

Then on 23 September last year, after sustained community opposition, including a 5,000+-signature petition (which Council treated contemptuously), a well-attended public meeting, much letter writing, a tortuous freedom-of-information request and sustained lobbying, the Mayor and Council finally relented and agreed to defer the Bath Street development and incorporate the site into the Foreshore Masterplan.

Seven months later we are still waiting for tangible signs of progress from LMCC.
On March 11 this year Howard Dick and Nico Marcar met with the Mayor and Laura Kendall, Director of Organisational Services, on behalf of the Toronto Foreshore Protection Group.

They were astounded to learn that the option of a commercial development, which Council had deferred in September last year, was still a live option for a Sustainability Review now under way.

To try and understand why LMCC was still spending money on consultants to review an option on which Council had already deferred ‘all work’, Howard and Nico wrote to Ms Kendall (cc. The Mayor and CEO) on April 8 and received a prompt reply (April 9).

Most of Ms Kendall’s reply, understandably, defends the position of Council staff in implementing Council’s September 2019 six-point resolution.

Two particular points, however, may well deserve community scrutiny.

First, “It would not be appropriate for me, or any other Council officer, to exclude specific options from the sustainability review based on political unpopularity.”

Second, “It is a complex resolution, with six parts that need to be implemented in a logical sequence. To do otherwise would likely create further uncertainty in the community in the medium and long term, and involve inefficient use of public resources.”

*Readers may best judge for themselves how to interpret these sentiments but on the face of it they suggest that LMCC has little commitment to democracy in local government.

To recap, in April 2018 Council took a very important decision affecting the community without any community consultation. In August 2019, Council responded to community opinion and the Mayor apologised. Now the commercial development option has been resurrected, contrary to Council’s decision, and notwithstanding that it is ‘politically unpopular’. And resurrection of this toxic ‘option’ is justified on grounds that responding to the Toronto community’s demand for recreational open space might create ‘uncertainty’!

Meanwhile, the community still awaits the draft Foreshore Masterplan, which seems to have been subordinated to a Sustainability Review. ‘Complex’ begins to seem like an excuse.

Strange times indeed.

Because local government elections have been postponed until September 2021, the current Council will be in place for the next 17 months. Plenty of time to assess who is running the show in Lake Macquarie and in whose interests.

Didn’t someone once say that the price of Liberty is eternal vigilance?

* The correspondence can be read in full on the TFPG website

An online Annual General Meeting

The AGM this year will be held by video conference on Sunday 17th May 3-4pm. You can join in by phone or computer. Please RSVP to coalpointprogress@gmail or 0438596741 so that access to the meeting can be provided.
The Committee has been very stable with a core of four pledging to return. We’d really like some
new faces to inject different perspectives into our discussions and share the running of the organisation.
We’re seeking someone to coordinate the hall bookings and would like to do more social activities and get set up for significant fundraising as well.  If you’d like to contribute to your community through the CPPA please join us at the AGM or have a chat to one of the committee members.
The AGM will address only the items required to ensure good governance. 
If there is a special issue that any member would like to raise it would be prudent to do this when face-to-face discussions can once again be held.
The AGM agenda for the 17/5/20 is:
1.     Welcome
2.     Attendance & Apologies
3.     Confirmation of minutes of previous Annual General Meeting held 11/3/19
4.     President's Report
5.     Treasurer’s Report
6.     Nomination of Returning Officer
7.     Election of Office Bearers and up to six other Committee members
8.     Confirmation of Public Officer- Suzanne Pritchard
9.     Nomination of Auditor- Veronica Lund
10.  Close of meeting

A caring community

Since the March Chronicle there’s been a mighty shift in what it means to be a part of a community. The CPPA Committee contemplated the role we can play in the current crisis, utilising our strengths in local knowledge and a hand-delivered communication channel.

Activities at our Hall have ceased due to gathering and distancing constraints. The CPPA and TASNG committees along with the Art group are meeting online. Landcaring has been officially called off by LMCC.

We sincerely hope everyone is keeping safe, appreciating the beautiful bushland suburb we live in and finding ways to support our neighbours, friends and family.

Here are our suggestions for sharing and caring locally:

Send your neighbour a contact card.


Introduction Card
Have you thought about dropping a hello card into
Connection Card
your neighbour? Everyone loves a letter that’s not a bill. The connection card in this Chronicle makes the introduction easy. Knowing who lives across the road may ease concerns of isolation. There's also a simple introduction card or a piece of paper will do.

Do you need a hand or want to lend one for shopping? 

The CPPA is setting up a register to connect ‘at risk’ locals, who need a hand with shopping, with those who don’t mind picking up a few extra items when they’re out. The CPPA will collect names and phone numbers and put people in touch with each other, the rest will be up to the helper and the recipient. Phone m: 0438596741 or email Suzanne
The Lake Macquarie Sustainable Neighbourhood Alliance has contact cards 

Explore our amazing bushland tracks and landcare sites and some not so obvious access points. 

Did you know you can walk:
  • Into Toronto along the foreshore from Ambrose Street gaining access from the lakeside reserve.
  • Along the Coal Point Ridge by joining the track at the crest of Whitelocke Street…exploring the Water tank mural is always fun.
  • From the Carey Bay Shopping Village to Puntei Park by a pathway at the rear of the shops.
  • From the Fire station on Ridge Rd to Kilaben Bay along the firetrail.
There is an online brochure ‘Wandering around the Coal Point Peninsula’ which shows the access points to many hidden treasures within our community and some greater detail in a post on a footpath strategy from 2011 

Safe Walking
 True. Walking on the right hand side facing the oncoming traffic lets you see approaching traffic and enables you to make sure that drivers have seen you. Be extra careful where the view of oncoming traffic is obscured.

Go on a Fuzzy Fauna Hunt.

Put out a stuffed or toy animal in your front window or wherever is visible from the street so when families are getting exercise they can get involved with a Treasure Hunt. The CPPA is supplying the wildlife for The Carey Bay Shopping Village which will be changed each week. You can post pictures of your findings on our Facebook Page or the Bear Hunt Lake Mac group

Join a real bio-adventure. 

This is an online identification game that will open your eyes to the amazing and beautiful life all around us in our bushland suburb. The CPPA has set up team, if you want to join it get in touch.

By taking photos of as much life as you can you score ‘game gold’ for every sighting, with extra gold if you can identify what you’ve found. And even more gold if you can find something rare or interesting.

QuestaGame is a fun experience with nature, friendly competition learning about life in all its forms, and it helps protect biodiversity as all sightings are shared with CSIRO’s Atlas of Living Australia.

Donate to Pampercare. 

If you’d like to help out those doing it tough and rough you can donate vouchers or gift cards to the Pampercare project by dropping them in at the Woodrising Neighbourhood Centre. They helped 11 local families in March.

Volunteer for Toronto Meals on Wheels 

Meals on Wheels are always ready to welcome new volunteers to support the work they do. If you’re interested in becoming one of their volunteers go to and follow the links to join as a volunteer by completing the paperwork. You could be delivering meals, or even catching up with people over the phone in the Have-a-chat program to support isolated elderly people in our local community.
From the Meals On Wheels GM, Damien Isaacs: We’d like to remind everyone that we are here to support the community. People over 65, people living with disability, and anyone in the community who may need a little bit of support with a meal or two per week delivered – for whatever reason.

Birds about and abundant - Rob Palazzi

The recent rains and cooler weather looks like producing a good flowering on the Spotted Gum (Corymbia maculata) in our reserves. This species appears to be very appealing to the nectar/pollen eaters in the bird world. The several reserves with good stands of this tree - Stansfield in particular - had high numbers of Rainbow Lorikeet and Musk Lorikeet this morning. It should be interesting to watch how these numbers develop in the next month or so.

These same weather conditions have caused a rapid increase in insect populations. These food sources have brought out some of the smaller birds. On the West Ridge there were some very busy Grey Fantail, Brown Thornbill, Spotted Pardalote, Golden Whistler, Leaden Flycatcher and a family of Variegated Fairy-wren. Worth keeping an eye (and ear) open when out walking.

On 7/4/20 Rod Mackay also noted “I have never seen so many (Musk Lorikeets) along with their cousins the Scaly- Breasted, Little and, of course, Rainbow varieties.

Also, there are a pair of Brahminy Kites hanging out on the Lake at present- they don’t normally venture this far south, but good to see them circling around and trying to stay out of the way of Whistling Kites!

While you may not be seeing the Musk Lorikeet, you have probably been hearing them. The usual contact call is a shrill metallic screech, higher than the Rainbow Lorikeet, in flight and when perched. They constantly chatter when feeding.You can listen to them on the Birds in Backyard- site.

Owl Breeding season 2020 has begun

The big hoot has begun in NSW with owls a-callin’ and action all about. Many pairs are already sitting together and owls are in and out of hollows. This has all started about a month earlier than we have seen previously, and in line with breeding activity the 2019, young are beginning to disperse. This early breeding season is not unexpected given the change in climate we have been experiencing.

Whilst the presence of Powerful owls in our community is a wonderful thing, in order to keep them here they need to feel safe and undisturbed. DO NOT walk towards a breeding hollow under the tree! Ideally you don’t want the male to see you at all. A safe viewing distance is 30-50m at all times for your safety and the owl’s comfort.

Fresh look at our lake delivered in a just-released title

A new book that takes us on a poetic paddling journey around Lake Macquarie, exploring up its creeks and down its historic by-ways, has been released by acclaimed author Scott Bevan.

Scott, who has previously written books about his kayaking journeys down the Hunter River and around Sydney Harbour, said he wrote The Lake: exploring a splendid sheet of water to shine some light on “a stunning Australian jewel”.

Scott has a long connection with Wangi Wangi, and six years back wrote a biography of Archibald Prize-winning painter and former Wangi resident, Sir William Dobell.

There’s something about Dobell in The Lake, with the famous artist part of the local story, alongside fishermen, environmentalists, boatbuilders, historians and adventurers, and many other lake characters.

In his kayak, Scott takes us on a journey right around the 174-kilometre shoreline of Lake Macquarie. We travel in and out of its dozens of bays and villages, around its islands and up its creeks. He even joins a pair of intrepid paddlers to kayak through a pipe into a ‘sunken forest’.

And there’s a trip around the ancient fossil remains of a prehistoric forest at Fennell Bay.

Along the shores of Carey Bay, we read tales of the private zoo that once existed there. It’s hard to imagine that the roar of lions could once be heard across the water.

In Scott’s book we learn much about the lake’s history, diving into events that have shaped not just this place, but also the region.

Scott is taken by a long-time Coal Point local to the site of the entrance to the lake’s first coal mine, Ebenezer Colliery. Its owner, the Reverend Lancelot Threlkeld, made a name for himself by taking on the coal monopoly held in NSW at the time by the Australian Agricultural Company.

Threlkeld also made a significant mark in Australian Indigenous archives. Having created a mission to work with the Aboriginal people, Threlkeld wrote books with an Awabakal leader to document the local language.

The Lake also looks at the challenges the lake faces as it flows into the future, including the very current issue of the Toronto foreshore, making references to earlier debates that raged when local waterfront land was first sold in the late 1800s. Scott was familiar with this private-versus-public issue, as he also wrote about foreshore alienation in his previous title The Harbour.

Scott’s book invites us all to think about the many facets of Lake Macquarie, and to remember that it is still worthy of the observation of one 19th century visitor who called our lake “a splendid sheet of water”.

The Lake: exploring a splendid sheet of water ($35) is available in a limited release first edition through Scott’s local book talk events, when they are able to resume. Also, they can be purchased through with shipping options that include free local doorstep delivery. The online shop link is

To include an author signing and/or personalised inscription, send details to

DAs In Play April 2020

The CPPA endeavours to provide a summary of active applications in our area. Please consult LMCC’s website for a full listing.

DA=Development Application, BC= Building Information Certificate TA=Tree Assessment, CC=construction Certificate