Council blocks Greens amendments to add teeth to infrastructure motion

Crowded train on the Northern Line
A crowded train on the Northern Line

By Councillor Charles Jago

At Tuesday night’s meeting of Canada Bay Council (28 September 2021), Councillor Marian Parnaby moved a notice of motion entitled “Infrastructure needs in the future“. In my view, the basic idea of the motion was sound, but it lacked sufficient teeth to have any significant impact. It was a wide-ranging motion with little detail and vague recommendations which included writing a number of letters to government agencies, from whom I expect vague responses. Her motion also requested a a briefing from the NSW Department of Education on school numbers – that might be useful.

I submitted some amendments which listed major problems with infrastructure across Canada Bay LGA, following on from the first three recommendations listed by Councillor Parnaby. My proposed amendments were:

  1. THAT Council notes that the Northern rail line serving residents in Rhodes, Concord West and North Strathfield – as stated in the Rhodes Planned Precinct Urban Design Report 2018* – is currently at full capacity and will require quadruplication or introduction of mass transit to achieve further throughput, and that Council writes to the Minister for Transport requesting a briefing on achieving greater passenger throughput in the medium-term.
  2. THAT Council notes that its Social Infrastructure (Open Space and Recreation) Strategy ** indicates a current undersupply of sports facilities across Canada Bay LGA with possible opportunities for new sports fields through the redevelopment of Rhodes East, and that Council writes to the Minister for Planning, Industry and Environment seeking a briefing on options for additional sporting fields in Rhodes.
  3. THAT Council notes that the Rhodes Public School planned for East Rhodes is expected to have a capacity of 1,000 students on a 1 hectare property – a density 10 times that of Concord West Public School, and that Council writes to the Minister of Education seeking options to reduce the density of the school.
  4. THAT Council notes that the Concord Hospital stage I upgrade was designed to meet a 20% increase of population above the population level of the 2011 Census, a level which was exceeded in 2017 at the beginning of stage one expansion project, and that Council writes to the NSW Minister for Health requesting a briefing on plans for future upgrades of Concord Hospital.
  5. THAT Council notes that the NSW Government specifically promised an “on-street rapid transit system” *** from Burwood to the CBD along Parramatta Road (using light rail or buses) in the original PRCUTS documents as a necessary prerequisite to PRCUTS rezoning, and that Council writes to the Minister of Transport requesting a briefing on the options for Rapid Transit along Parramatta Road.

These amendments highlight major gaps in infrastructure which are the responsibility of the NSW Government. Unfortunately, the Mayor did not allow me to formally put these amendments, due to his error in applying Canada Bay Council’s Code of Meeting Practice (which dates from 2019). There was however some brief discussion of the amendments. Councillor Parnaby did not agree to include these amendments in her motion.

From my perspective, Council has lost an opportunity to hold the NSW Government accountable on critical infrastructure for which they are responsible, but no action whatever is visible – the government is not responding. Of course, if Council cannot speak strongly about it, we cannot expect much back from the government.

In contrast to the muted recommendations in Councillor Parnaby’s motion, the mayor moved a Mayoral minute on infrastructure contributions with much stronger recommendations. I strongly supported this motion, on a topic on which the public has little knowledge. (Basically, the government is attempting to reduce revenue to Council from money contributed by developers, meaning Council will be less able to pay its part in necessary local infrastructure. See the Greens response to this awful plan of the NSW government.) The Mayor’s recommendations included 1) a number of specific letters, 2) support for advocacy by Local Government NSW and other councils, and 3) publicity to local residents on the issue. That is the kind of action Councillor Parnaby’s motion required, and which it sorely lacked.

* See page 72 of the document. The link shows part two of the document.

** See p59.

*** PRCUTS: Parramatta Road Urban Transformation Strategy – see overdevelopment page, under “Traffic congestion (two broken promises)” heading.

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