Positive Outcomes: June Council Meeting

Read the Resolutions, Reports & Minutes of the June 21 Ordinary Meeting, click here.

 Community Outcomes for Sth Byron

Report No. 16.3

This is been an exciting, innovative and to be honest- quite nerve-wracking experience. We decided to take a risk and to give ourselves a tough goal: to decontaminate an area, provide a community outcome and enhance the environmental values within the old South Byron STP site, without selling the land and by working alongside a private group or consortium.  We are well on our way to realising this vision and creating this reality.

There are a few great proposals submitted and we will now explore these more thoroughly and bring them forward to the community for feedback.  Proposals going to the next stage include establishing a school, a wellness centre, aged-care and affordable housing.

This area has never been open and available for the community, and currently we can only enjoy its view from outside a fence; soon we should finally gain access to the site. It would be irresponsible for council to spend around $2 million to decontaminate an area and then only open it up  as open space with an ongoing cost to maintain, especially when we have an opportunity to decontaminate it without rate payers money and to get community benefits and environmental benefits. Also, the money we save or generate can then be used instead on better stormwater infrastructure or wider catchment rehabilitation to make Byron will more  flood resistant and environmentally rich.

Pleasingly, those behind proposals to establish an environmental centre on the site will be engaged to see if this great outcome could occur on a better site, with both greater environmental qualities and without decontamination- these conditions currently exist at the Valances road STP and West Byron STP.

 Set for Solar & Shade Solutions

Report No. 16.1

Well, we are now seriously on our way to delivering large solar projects within the Shire. This will be the first of many solar projects that will be even larger, more community-owned and realise even greater emission reduction outcomes.  Oh, and this 100KW of ground mounted solar in the public carpark behind Council’s admin building in Mullum will also provide shade for cars and be a visible testament to the intent and values of both council and our community.

 BioEnergy: Collect, Convert, Generate

Report No. 16.4

Council is making great progress to realise a large-scale bioenergy facility at one of its sewage treatment plants (STP’s). Originally envisaged for the Brunswick Valley STP Valances Road, it has been shown to be more effective and appropriate to be held at the West Byron STP.

It gives us the opportunity to deal with our organic waste, including grease, fats and oils  from across the Shire to turn it into a renewable energy source.

It is a particularly innovative and exciting project and now that we have shortlisted a group of firms who can bring this to life we will provide funds for a more thorough feasibility study.

Groups Get Hand Up

Report No. 13.5

It was great for Council to be able to support some fantastic local community initiatives. Many groups don’t require a lot, but when funding is scarce it is very difficult to make great things happen. Now, with our support of $5000, Council has a chance to watch these groups projects become terrific realities.

The three groups are: Byron Youth Theatre, Shedding and Sprung Integrated Dance Theatre.  These groups are focused on those in our community who are often neglected, our  youth, those feeling isolated and our physically and intellectually challenged.

Exercising the NO muscle

Report No. 13.26

Being willing to say no to inappropriately scaled developments paid off for council recently when we reached a compromise and achieved a positive outcome in lessening the impact of a proposed development of three dwellings within the Heritage area in Byron Bay.

Now, instead, there is to be a more appropriate two dwellings on the site. Legal proceedings are never a great reality, but sometimes they are necessary when we need to defend our planning rules in court on behalf of the community.

When we do, we usually win and usually we achieve a better outcome, and we are soon to do so in this case.

Managing Rural Weddings

Report No. 13.11

Living in an rural area myself, I know only too well the complexities within the issue of the growing number of events and weddings in our rural areas.  It is too simplistic to just say no, shut the door and wish away what is currently and increasingly occurring, no matter what we think about the activity. Likewise, it is irresponsible to just accept what is happening, open the door and let whatever is happening to continue and grow.

We are seeking to strictly guard this door and seek to put conditions in place to see whether any venue and location can hold events without impacting either neighbours or the rural environment, for example, one proposed condition for a 500 metre buffer between dwellings would alone ensure around 90% of currently used properties would not be allowed. However, the proposal still looks to leave it open for those who can prove they can operate acceptably to be able to do so.

This is a similar issue to holiday letting whereby just saying yes or no can’t manage the realities facing us- and where trying to manage the reality and steer it in a direction that makes it as bearable as possible is hard but preferable.

If the State government is open to our proposal, we will again seek more feedback from the community.

Honouring the First Australians

Notice of Motion No. 9.2

The Uluru Statement from the Heart is one of the most powerful and moving pieces of writing created in Australia for many decades and it was hard to keep my emotions in check when reading it aloud in the chamber. It achieves the almost miraculous- combining the views and hopes of activists both indigenous and non-indigenous with the wisdom and support of indigenous elders.

Created by over 250 elders and indigenous representatives from around the country, including Michael Mansell, Pat Dodson and the granddaughter of Vincent Lingiari, I was honoured to bring this notice of motion to support both the words and the intent. Though some indigenous activists don’t support this as they don’t support indigenous rights being enshrined within the Constitution, instead preferring a stand alone government,  the overwhelming support from organisations and individual Australians who want to honour, value and walk alongside our  indigenous mob is clear.

This is a breathtakingly important document that needs the support and implementation from our community, council and nation.

Managing Our Coastal Zone

Report 13.9

Well, after a decade of near misses and stalled take offs we are finally close to having a Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP)  within Byron Bay- covering the area from the Main Beach car park to Cape Byron.

When gazetted by the State Government, it will enable us, as a community, to look into the future with confidence and to be able to  protect our coastal areas, our town, and find a way to create more beautiful and functional spaces along the strip that connects our town to our beach.

Hopefully the gazette will occur shortly, so then we can work alongside the community to design how we want this area to look and function.

New GM Takes the Helm

Mayoral Minute 8.2

When it was announced at an all staff function a few days ago that Mark Arnold would be the new General Manager,  staff erupted in applause and cheering. He is the quiet guy who gets things done respectfully, clearly and successfully. I and the other councillors can’t wait to work alongside Mark to keep trying our best to get great outcomes for the community- welcome aboard Mark.

The Resource of Waste

Notice of Motion 9.1

The Northern Rivers has an opportunity to turn the concept of ‘waste’ on it’s head and instead consider it a resource.  New industries, new economic development and better environmental stewardship come with new ways to deal with what we discard.

With the advent of the Chinese refusing to be our dumping ground, we now have an opportunity to deal with our waste and to turn it into functional and usable products. This will lead to generating new, smart jobs, and generating resilience within our community.  Byron joins Tweed with the intent of zero landfill and zero waste and now the wider Northern Rivers councils will soon also get on board to see how we might make this happen.

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