Ballina Greens councillor Jeff Johnson is calling for a report into the decline of public open space in the shire and wants Ballina Council to develop a plan to increase open space to provide for the needs of a growing population.
According to a recently released report, in the last 10 years the amount of public open space held by local councils across NSW has reduced by almost 20 per cent.
Just last year Ballina Shire Council controversially sold vacant foreshore land to the North Coast Accommodation Trust, which operates an adjacent caravan park, for what critics claimed was well below market value.
As well, Cr Johnson pointed out a large proportion of Porter Park in West Ballina was recently reclassified to make way for the construction of a childcare centre.
A similar proposal now exists for Crawford Park in Alstonville.
Cr Johnson said he was concerned that even though the Ballina Shire population is expected to increase significantly over the next 20 years, ‘Council doesn’t appear to have a plan to increase the amount of public open space. Quite the contrary; public open space appears to be undervalued when compared to Council’s other land holdings.
‘Council needs a plan to increase public open space as our population increases,’ he said.
Cr Johnson plans to put a motion to tomorrow’s council meeting to commission a staff report about the decline in public open space in Ballina Shire and recommending Council adopt a strategy for ensuring that as its population increases the amount of public open space also increases.
The most recent Measuring Local Government Performance Report, released this month, blames the recent statewide loss of public open space on increased population growth and financial pressures on councils.