Tuesday, 21 July 2020

How would you like your Foreshore/Pool?

“How hard is it for a local council to give the public what it wants?” asked Samantha Hutchinson in her CBD column in the Sydney Morning Herald of 4 June 2020. “Near impossible” was the answer.

No she wasn’t referring to Lake Macquarie City Council but to Georges River Council in southern Sydney which is working through a planning process to upgrade a local pool.

Georges River Council began by sh
utting down the Kogarah War Memorial Pool before the new pool had even been designed. Then in May 2020 councillors decided to build the new pool at nearby Todd Park.

Yet a planning report obtained by Ms Hutchinson revealed that “almost three-quarters of residents who made submissions asked for it to stay in its original location”.

Nevertheless, the new pool will have a water slide. Residents were asked for their thoughts on a water slide: “How many said yes? Less than 1%”.

Now Georges River is a long way from Lake Macquarie so it may be hard to see the relevance to Toronto.

But, in the ongoing saga of Council’s proposed high-rise building for the Toronto Foreshore, the community has long argued for the Bath Street site to be integrated with the foreshore parkland with improved recreational amenities.

So Council’s recent r
esponse to the question of “Why was the community not asked to provide input into which scenarios were chosen for the ‘Sustainability Review” is perplexing:

“SGS Economics are a specialist consultancy firm that were engaged as a sub-consultant… SGS methodology sought to remove as much subjectivity from the process as possible and provide Councillors with an independent analysis of the site with respect to the potential uses. The ideology behind the different potential uses is not to identify specifically what the future use will be, but rather to compare a number of different scales of use, hence why their analysis ranges from a “Do Nothing” approach right through to a “Precinct Plan”.

The scenarios being examined by the consultant are: 
1) do nothing 
2) open space, park 
3) park with cafe 
4) compliant development for community purposes 
5) 4-6 storey residential development with commercial space 
6) as for (5) but with serviced apartments, and 
7) as for (5) and (6) but with a Precinct Plan.

Even after Council had in September 2019 walked away from endorsing a proposed Precinct Plan and unanimously voted to defer further work on the proposed mixed use apartment building, we now have a consultant being paid to examine a Precinct Plan and high-rise residential and serviced apartment buildings as part of a series of ‘scalable options’!

The community has provided many suggestions for the future use of the Bath Street site, but we are not being consulted because that would be ‘subjective’. Meanwhile Council staff and the consultants are happily playing ducks and drakes with several options that the community has already rejected.

In August 2019 Mayor Fraser assured a packed public gallery that she had “listened to the community” and that any decision “will not be without proper consultation with the community and lengthy discussion about what the community wants“. Perhaps Council staff need to be reminded of this?

Westlakes ratepayers know how it feels to be shut out of decision-making that directly affects them.

At least the Georges River community was allowed to comment, even if the comments were then ignored.

The Westlakes community still has not been given any say on the future use of the Bath Street site !

Perhaps it’s time we spoke with Ms Hutchinson and the Sydney Morning Herald. They may better be able to find out what has happened to the Foreshore Master Plan and who is so determined to resurrect the high-rise apartment tower.

Naturespace and Community Hub Update

Coal Point Public School's (CPPS) parent project team is in the exciting phase of designing the Coal Point Public School - Naturespace and Community Hub. A concept plan with an education trail and play zones was shared with the Coal Point Public School teaching staff, prior to Covid-19 restrictions, and received useful and positive feedback. The project team are now developing activities for the school students to provide input into the concept plan, which they will receive early third term.

The Naturespace and Community Hub will be built around the periphery of top field, an area that currently gets little use. Once the project is completed it will get lots of use, and so it has been necessary to assess the risk posed by the trees currently growing in the area. An arborist has completed this assessment.

During the school holidays the project team marked the proposed route for the education trail with pink paint and flags. A specialist trail builder measured and recorded the alignment of the trail. His team have prepared a scoping document, which is being used to cost the trail. Further updates, community consultation and other opportunities for involvement will be posted on the project Facebook page -Coal Point Primary School Naturespace & Community Hub.

Community consequence of COVID

The COVID19 ripples are still resonating throughout daily community life, shaping the way we communicate and the availability of social activities…but it’s not all bad especially if you can master the video-conferencing technology that’s now available.

The local art group that was meeting at the hall moved their meeting to video conferencing very quickly. It turns out that the social glue that binds the group remained sticky with increased benefits of not having to pack up the art materials and no travel time. Unexpected benefits were more extensive sharing of skills and critiquing of art work with everyone being involved, more time for art and an extra art session was easily accommodated. The group continues to happily meet online.

Local yoga moved online
, downward dog from the comfort of your private space. Some studios were providing recordings for whenever the mood and time allowed, creating new flexible opportunities. Yoga is now back with face to face options.

Some of the national events that CPPA has been involved with in the past have had to make the call to do things differently this year.

National Science Week
, in August, is providing the Scinema Film Festival for free to anyone! You can stream a wide range of award-winning science films by signing up to get the films delivered to your inbox!.

Community planting
National Tree Day this year
may have been cancelled by 
Planet Ark, but this is not deterring landcarers from popping a few plants in the ground around this time of year…it’s a good time for planting.

We’ll have 80 plants at Burnage Reserve on Thursday 30th July between 8am and noon as part of the regular Landcare session. If you’d like to lend a hand whilst out on your morning constitutional feel free to drop by and help with planting. Everyone is welcome, there’ll be suitable spacing, and morning tea is at 10am, BYO beverage.(The image is from 2001...those plants have grown)

COVID-19 is also mobilising and connecting community groups that can see the possibilities of a seismic shift in the way society operates, a window of opportunity to change direction, and build on the changes COVID has inspired.

Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE), an internationally recognised climate change think tank, has recently commenced the Hunter Diversification research and engagement project - which will run 2+ years. BZE has also released the Million Jobs Plan showing that 115,000 new jobs can be created across the Hunter over the next 10 years, with rapid start up in industries such as Hydrogen & Green Steel manufacturing, Home Retrofits, Fly Ash Reuse, Electric Buses and Land Regeneration.

With energy production and mining a core part of our community, alternative employment opportunities that will fill the gap after coal will be needed. The Hunter Case Study of the BZE Million jobs plan can be viewed online 

Magical MoM Moments

A bunch of Mother of Millions
Landcaring resumed on 4th June with social distancing and enthusiasm. The moist soil is providing great upper body workout as we enthusiastically release the natives that have been getting overrun.

We’ve been welcoming new members to the landcare team, saying farewell to others and enjoying the company of all.

Whilst Landcare hours for January-March were an impressive 399, the April-June tally was 150, and it doesn’t take long turn the weedy tide though.

A current project at Gurranba Reserve is reducing the Mother of Millions (MoM) motherlode. The Lake Mac Landcare Resource Centre has provided our group with a tip pass to deal with this non-compostable camouflaging conqueror. Last week on a beautiful

Thursday morning the landcare crew bagged up 180kg of MoM.The slow paced methodical removal was mentally soothing, the sheltered lakeside location allowing the warming sun to work its mood enhancing magic, making the morning a blissful experience. When we thought it couldn’t get any better ‘The Goods’ morning tea, sponsored by Matt Cook of Excelsior Plumbing, made for a memorable and magical session.

Anyone can get a taste of the MoM magic moments, all you need is a bag and a few spare minutes to collect the leggy succulent. Tied-off bags can be left near the black plastic on the Gurranba headland as we’ll be making another trip to the tip while we still have the pass. Please only MoMs in the bag.

Thank you to John Sharples for capturing the camouflaging capacity of this worrying weed.

Empowering Homes solar battery loan offer

The 2283 postcode is one of the lucky ones in the NSW Government’s program to help homeowners access interest-free loans to install solar battery systems. These systems provide clean, renewable energy and can help you cut your energy bills.

Eligible households can get an interest-free loan of up to:
  • $14,000 towards a solar PV and battery system (repayable over a range of terms up to 8 years), or
  • $9000 towards retrofitting a battery system to an existing solar PV system (repayable over a range of terms up to 10 years).
For more information 
call Service NSW on 13 77 88 or visit the website

There are also a number of energy rebates available to the community. To find out more and check your eligibility, visit www.energysaver.nsw.gov.au/households.

Business support is available too, visit www.energysaver.nsw.gov.au/business to find out more.

Plastic Free July...what will you choose to do?


The Toronto Area Sustainable Neighbourhood Group (TASNG) has quite a few projects on the go:
  • An exploration into excessive packaging is being undertaken;
  • Plastic free cafes are being encouraged;
  • Canvassing of future footpath suggestions is underway; and
  • Assistance is being offered with regenerating the Toronto Wetlands adjacent to the Workers Club
  • As part of an Eco-Angels City-wide event, a clean up is planned for Sunday 9th August, 10am-noon.

Plastic Free July – what will you do?

COVID-19 has seen an unfortunate upswelling in plastic litter. Plastic free July is a chance to do something about it. plasticfreejuly.org

Join the Citywide Eco-Angels clean up

TASNG’s 10am Sunday morning clean-up session on 9th August will be radiating out from the Lions Park Toronto at Fennell Bay Bridge, aiming to clean up the lake foreshore as far as the eye can see and the legs can wander in two hours. We’ll be meeting at north end of Lions Park. Bags will be provided, along with gloves, yellow vests and sanitiser, everything you need for a meaningly morning of plogging (picking up whilst walking) whilst maintaining socially distancing .

Choose nude.

Take3 for the Sea is asking everyone to choose nude produce in July. A simple commitment to avoid fruit and vegetables wrapped in unnecessary plastic packaging, bags or wraps.
130,000 tonnes of Australian plastic pollutes our ocean and waterways every year. Can you do your part to reduce it?

Rethink your bin liner

There haven’t always been bin liners. 

Is Plastic Free July is an opportunity to try something different? 

Here are some ideas from TASNG’s Waste Worrier;
  • Be bold and bare, just rinse out your bins;
  • Reduce your rubbish by recycling more;
  • Return the scrunchable soft plastics at Coles and Woolworths;
  • Use a newspaper bin liner...various folding methods are on YouTube;
  • Use the compostable bags supplied by Council; and
  • Ask the supermarkets to cut down on unnecessary plastic packaging, especially over fruit and vegetables …go nude.

Give a hoot

The comings and goings of our fine feathered friends are foremost in the thoughts of many locals.

Wildlife Carer Catherine highlighted the harmful effects of rodenticides on owls and other birds.

Research in WA has also shown that up to 70% of boobook owls had detectable levels of rodenticides and 18% had lethal levels... this is most likely occurring in most suburban/regional areas throughout Australia. People are using the rodenticides near where I live, and I've had a few rats dying from poison in my yard. In 2018-19 our local boobook had 3 chicks and I hate to think of them dying from these poisons. I didn't see any chicks from last year's breeding season, so this is concerning. I have also sighted a masked and barn owl here in the past.

An ABC Article from 2017 further explains the impacts of rat poisons. 

If rodenticides must be used – first generation anticoagulant rodenticides are preferred because they break down more quickly than second generation anticoagulant rodenticides

When purchasing look for active ingredients:
  • FGARs (less toxic) - Warfarin, Coumateralyl (Ratblitz)
  • SGARs (more toxic) - Brodifacoum, Bromadioline (Ratsak & Talon)
We are very fortunate to still have these birds of prey in our area and whilst we have rats they have a meal, hopefully it won’t be their last. 

Do you miss the Powerful Owls?

Local bird-O Rod Mackay shared some Powerful Owl (PO) info.

Did you know POs will tend to eat the flying foxes, which spooks them and they relocate.

It’s been happening the last few years. All the bats in Blackalls would amazingly disappear about late April when the POs came back to the area to breed (April- September).

They were also responsible for clearing the bat population out of the Botanical Gardens in Sydney a few years back.

This is the first year for about six that we have had no POs around-disappointing, but that happens. Hopefully they will be back again next year.

PO’s have bred in our community and they may be encouraged to return if we employ measures to protect these owls from disturbance or harm. There are only 6000 Powerful Owls and pairs in Australia and locally we have one of them. 

The Birdlife Australia Project has a great fact sheet for managing vegetation for powerful owls. The information below is sourced from this.

The Powerful Owl is a majestic threatened bird species that lives only along Australia’s east coast. They produce very small clutches of only one or two chicks.Protecting breeding by avoiding disturbing vegetation is vital.

The spaces owls use are made up of native and non-native plants. Broad-leaf Privet (Ligustrum lucidum), a non-native evergreen shrub and a serious environmental weed, is particularly important to owls in many of the areas they roost and nest. In fact, privet is the only tree species supporting owls in many of the urban areas where they nest in Sydney.

Privet provides shelter for the favoured prey of Powerful Owls, and it forms a vital element for owls by providing cover that lets owls roost during the day, and the cool environment owls need to persist in summer. In many cases, these owls would be unable to breed without privet. A thick shrub layer is important for new chicks, which must climb home if they have a fall when learning to fly.

Powerful Owls are creatures of habit. They like to nest in the same hollows and roost in the same trees each year, and an individual pair of owls may do this for up to 30 years. Powerful Owls are particularly sensitive to disturbance during the breeding season between April and October. Disturbance in the core part of the territory where owls are raising their chicks may cause adult owls to abandon both the chicks and the nest. Changes to the tree canopy, cutting vegetation near the nest tree, fire and tree/branch falls near the nest tree have all been documented to cause Powerful Owls to abandon nesting.

Whilst bush regeneration is sometimes the only way to restore good function in bushland, if ill-timed or too enthusiastic it can cause great harm to owls and other wildlife. When bush/land care activities are taking place in a known Powerful Owl territory the following actions are essential to protect owls:
  • Protect all hollow-bearing trees;
  • Remove woody weeds in a mosaic pattern to retain habitat for owls and small birds;
  • Avoid clearing of any vegetation that provides protected roosting sites for adults;
  • Avoid vegetation trimming that opens the canopy in riparian zones (up to 15m from creek/river); and
  • No works are to be undertaken within 100 m of an identified nesting tree or recorded observation site during the breeding season.

Call for Creative Community Carpenters

The CPPA is looking for ideas and support to construct a lockable letter box and to create a street library for the Progress Hall.

The street library will be on the front porch of the hall under the meter box , so some weather protection is provided, and the letterbox needs to be durable and lockable.

The street library concept is a growing trend for book lovers to share books/ You put one in and take one out.The actual libraries can be creative masterpieces reflecting the interests of the area. So if you’re looking for a project…look no more. There are tips and plans for building a library at https://streetlibrary.org.au/build.

DA's In Play to 13/7/20

The CPPA endeavours to provide a summary of active applications in our area as outlined in the table.

Please consult LMCC’s website for a full listing:

DA=Development Application, BC= Building Information Certificate TA=Tree Assessment, CC=Construction Certificate, CDC= Complying Development Certificate, REF= Review Environmental Factors, SC=Subdivision Certificate.