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Byron Shire
June 1, 2023

Byron GM refutes Butler Street Reserve allegations

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Conceptual plans of a Butler Street interchange show a single storey building that includes a cafe and a plaza. Image Byron Bay Bus lnterchange memo.

Outgoing Byron Shire Council general manager Ken Gainger has told The Echo that a number of claims made by resident Paul Jones regarding plans for Butler Street Reserve were ‘grossly inaccurate.

Gainger said, ‘Mr Jones claims that the Butler Street Reserve will be developed as a “high-rise transport infrastructure”. The bus interchange is a single-level structure as clearly depicted in the concept plan pictured with the article.’

‘He also claims that the council has for many years undertaken “lucrative leasing of the Reserve for the Byron market and other activities”. In fact the council leases the Reserve to the Byron Community Association (monthly Sunday markets) and the Byron Farmers’ Market for a fee of $6,846 pa and $9,516 pa respectively, hardly lucrative.

‘Mr Jones also says that “The proposed bus terminal, carpark and CBD development are totally inconsistent with the Plan of Management in place and prepared for the Reserve in 2002”.

Bus interchange

‘The proposed bus interchange is not a council project; it is a state government project and the Butler Street Reserve is state owned (Crown) land. The state is not governed by a PoM for the site.

‘The carpark was established by the council with the specific approval of the Department of Lands.

‘The reference to CBD development makes no sense – the PoM only relates to the Butler Street Reserve, not the Byron CBD.

‘Mr Jones ends his hyperbole by saying, “despite all this council as development proponent sees fit to establish a bus terminal directly adjacent to a medium-density residential area” – Council is not the development proponent, the state government is.

‘Council did not apply for the bus interchange funding; the first it knew of the proposal was the media announcement made by the NSW deputy premier leading up to the last state government election.

‘Please, Mr Jones, don’t treat Echo readers with such disrespect – perhaps a little research would be useful before you put pen to paper in your seemingly endless campaign to resist change.’

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  1. I wonder what is grossly inaccurate Mr Gainger, your Masterplan call for 3 storey CBD expansion zone into Butler Street Reserve and on page 28 clearly demonstrates and suggests multi-storey carparking facilities on the reserve. His dismissal of the income generated on the reserve as insignificant should be considered in relation to the completely insignificant utilisation of funds on upkeep or development of the reserve. Further, the markets activity on the reserve helps to fund the activities of the community centre in no insignificant way, a community centre that normally would be funded directly by the Council. The reserve is in fact quite lucrative for the many small business activities taking place there via market activity. The State Government is funding a transport terminal for Byron Bay Country Link trains, I understand it was our Council who steered the State onto the Butler Street Reserve and as such Council are directing traffic. The State first proposed the project on the rail land. Mr Gainger is here engaging in further deception and I stand by my claims as made.

  2. The possible use of the Butler Street reserve land as a council owned multi-storey carparking facility is just one of several possible uses for this public asset. It is a totally separate issue to the State Government’s proposed bus interchange. Whilst the Byron Town Centre Masterplan does not focus on the area past the railway corridor, any sensible consideration of Byron’s future must consider the option of extending the CBD zone to include Butler St and the Bypass. As for the claim that Council would be funding the Community Centre were it not for the markets, well that is just wild speculation. The $100,000’s required to run the Community Centre is well beyond the capacity of our impoverished Council to fund. We are already losing several $100,000 every year on the sports center! So, what is so bad about the above proposals? If you live on Butler Street, then you may, like Mr Jones, strongly object to these proposals for personal reasons. Fair enough. But if the rest of us want to see the Byron CBD become a pedestrian dominated, sub-tropical outdoor village, then the cars and buses must be kept out. A carpark with two levels below ground, and two above, with artistic facades and tree plantings, could remove 1000 vehicles from the CBD. The revenue for Council would be significant and long-term, ensuring the funds needed to provide residents with the amenities and roads we all want. The ridiculous sight of massive coaches negotiating their way around the clogged streets of Byron would be a thing of the past, just like the days I remember in the 80’s when all coaches stopped at Ewingsdale Hall, and visitors had to get a taxi into town. The tourists are not going away. Byron is not going back to the golden years some of us remember in the 1980’s. Either we accept this reality and make some tough decisions (and investments), or the gridlock and alienation of locals from our beloved Byron Bay will only get much worse. Byron Bay has the capacity to raise a great deal of public revenue for the rest of the Shire, as well as employ a large % of the local population. It is our Golden Goose. We have to care for it, nurture it, feed it, encourage it, an guide it. In return, our beautiful residential areas will have the parks, playgrounds, paths, roads and community facilities that we are all missing out on now.

  3. The GM says ‘the council leases the Reserve to the Byron Community Association (monthly Sunday markets) and the Byron Farmers’ Market for a fee of $6,846 pa and $9,516 pa respectively, hardly lucrative’. Thus, demonstrating that he knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. Just like the Mayor and his cronies in the animated movie Nut job 2

    The GM also alludes to a ‘seemingly endless campaign to resist change. But he has that back to front.

    Over the last 12 months the councils seemingly endless campaign against on our way of life (i.e. paid parking, the effective closure of Broken Head beach to the public, the commoditization of the sports oval, white anting the markets, chopping down trees) has managed to unite, hippies, surfers, National Party Voters Greenies and shopkeepers as well as the chambers of commerce of Brunswick Heads and Bangalow. That’s some feat.

    Make no mistake, after building on the bus station starts; all of the earlier proposals will be put back on the table. Including paid parking, the closure of Broken Head and the commoditization of the sports oval. They have only been temporarily suspended to head of growing protest.

    Nevertheless, if enough locals and market stall holders protest, the proposed bus station will be canned due to the councils’ re-election fears.

    Sticking with that theme. How about Mandy Nolan for Mayor? I never have the vim to get through her columns but I reckon her position on everything must be on the record. Also, she has been a key figure in the Byron Shire Spring of 2017. Organizing protest against paid parking in Brunswick Heads. But mostly, she is qualified for the job because she wouldn’t want it. For as Thomas Moore pointed out in Utopia (1516); anyone who seeks to run for public office should be automatically banned from it


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