Ballina Shire Council will vote this week on whether to move the Lennox Head markets from its current popular spot on the bank of Lake Ainsworth to an area closer to town, possibly Williams Reserve adjacent to the Lennox Head Community Centre (LHCC).
Despite the mooted move being popular with local businesspeople, who say they would benefit from the markets being closer to town, the results of independent advice obtained by the council recommend that market remain on the shore of the lake except in the height of the summer holiday season and during periods of flooding.
Ballina Greens Cr Jeff Johnson, who supports the move, says the markets, which attract large numbers of people, rubbish and parking, are damaging the local ecology.
‘Lake Ainsworth is a fragile ecosystem that is enjoyed by both local residents and visitors. The closure of the eastern road and the relocation of the markets to the Lennox Community Centre will greatly increase the amenity of the area and reduce runoff entering the lake,’ he told Echonetdaily yesterday.
‘The lake is a closed ecosystem, so everything that filters into it stays there. The most important consideration is to ensure the long-term health of the lake,’ he said.
Cr Johnson added that local businesses support the move.
‘The Lennox Chamber of Commerce is also in favour of moving the markets closer to the CBD as it provides a welcome boost to local businesses,’ he said.
But a report, which was prepared for the council by Sumbios Consulting following a workshop with stakeholders, advised against permanently relocating the market.
‘The feedback from the key stakeholders is that there is little support for change and with some further planning and communication, improvements can be made to how the markets operate,’ it reads.
‘On this basis it is recommended that Council does not take any further action on this matter at this point in time. If the council is inclined to relocate the markets, it is recommended that a final decision only be taken after further consultation.’
The report says that Williams Reserve/LHCCC site ‘is not considered as attractive as a marketing tool’ for the markets when compared to the Lake Ainsworth site.
‘Having regard to the increase in the number of markets in the region competing for stallholders, holding the market at a unique and pleasant location such as the lake is important. Lack of shade, total available
space, and atmosphere are concerns that would make the Williams Reserve site relatively less competitive with other markets compared to the lake site,’ it reads.
It adds that Council should ‘review the management plan for the lake and surrounding areas to identify mitigation measures that may be able to be accelerated to assist with the protection of the lake and riparian zone’.