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Byron Shire
May 18, 2021

Lake Ainsworth battle heats up

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Preserving Lake Ainsworth protesters, Don Opie and Helen Fay-Kimber. Photo Jeff Dawson

Hot weather saw some several hundred protesters angrily press their point with Ballina Mayor David Wright that Lake Ainsworth’s eastern road should remain open, at a rally on Saturday (January 13).

But the mayor declined to change his position, and that of the council as a whole, that the road should be closed to benefit the ecology of the lake and a pedestrian precinct created on the eastern shore.

The group Preserving Lake Ainsworth Inc (PLA), who say 460 people ‘signed on’ with them objecting to the road closure, argue that a large number of car parking spaces will be lost as a result of the plan and that council is looking at introducing paid parking elsewhere around the lake.

But the mayor has stated that the council has no plans for paid parking in the vicinity of the lake.

He added the group had overstated the number of parking spaces that would be lost.

PLA member Don Opie told Echonetdaily, ‘It is illogical that the existing informal car parks on the Eastern Road and Southern Road are not counted by the council. It is stated in their DA that southern foreshore existing parking numbers have not been counted for this master plan.’

‘Of course, not counting existing car parks assists if you are attempting to hide the impact of this road closure.

Mr Opie said ‘many elderly people’ had told him that despite not being disabled ‘I cannot park over there and walk down this closed roadway to enter the water where I currently do’.

Timed parking

He added that even if paid parking didn’t go ahead, ‘the DA states limited timed parking is recommended to “address the overflow from the caravan park and to cycle lake and beach users”.’

‘This loss of functioning infrastructure is a big deal.

‘Much of the year the roadway is quiet, yet it accommodates higher holiday numbers [through] its informal nature. It’s not broken why is it being closed against the wishes of the majority?’ he questioned.

But the Lake Ainsworth Interest Group (LAIG), who also had a presence at the lake on the weekend, have a conflicting view.

‘We understand that some people are worried about parking and also that some people just want it to stay how it is. However we don’t believe the area can stay how it is – it’s not safe and the long overdue environmental works need to happen,’ spokesperson Shaun Eastment said in a media release.

‘We’ve sat through many debates about the options and practicalities of bringing the area up to scratch and retaining a road and car parking.

‘It’s a narrow space and we haven’t seen a proposal that allows for the stormwater management and riparian restoration works, addresses the safety problems and still leaves space for people to sit and enjoy the lake,’ Ms Eastment said.

Filling in the lake

She added that a compromise solution being promoted by the pro-road group amounted to filling in part of the lake.

‘The compromise solution… involves reclaiming a 15-20m wide, 200m long stretch of the lake – turning water into land so to speak.

‘We don’t believe the community will be happy to see excavators digging up or filling in the lake so we can fit cars in.

‘We also don’t believe it’s a feasible option,’ Ms Eastment said.

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  1. Hundreds protest again. Adding weight to the 4,000 resident signatures on the petition to keep the road open. Also, at the protest, local indigenous elder Lois Cook urged Ballina Shire Mayor Wright to use his casting vote against the proposal.

    Yet ‘Cr Wright said the protest was also attended by supporters of the proposal.’ As far as propaganda goes, this is North Korean spin doctor stuff.Take a look at the Northern Star video of the protest.


    VIDEO: Angry residents rally over lake road closure, Northern Star, 15/01/2018

    The proposed road closure will curtail lake access by the elderly and disabled. Furthermore, everybody knows this deeply unpopular proposal is a Trojan horse for paid parking which will deny lake access to low income groups. So damaging the social fabric of the community.

    Shame on the dozen or so close the road activists for supporting this agenda.

    Shame on Cr Johnson the imaginary Mayor of Lennox Head. My question is, why is the main instigator of the road closure plan now keeping his head down? Is it because the population of Lennox Head is 7741 and 4000 residents have signed the anti road closure petition? Has Cr Johnson done the math and decided to stay quiet to boost his fading re-election chances?

    Let me offer Cr Johnson this advice. If you want to hang onto to public office and your pay cheque, then now is the time to put your hand up, apologize and pledge to vote against the road closure. Many promising political careers have been undone by hubris. Ditto Cr Wright. The unwashed masses of Ballina Shire not only visit the lake, they vote.

  2. The quotes from Mr Opie are interesting.
    This is Council land is it not? Therefore the ONLY parking is in Formal car parking spaces according to Council. Any car parked an any other part of the Reserve therefore is destroying grassland and destroying the environment and is parked illegally. Therefore those cars need to be reported to the police and booked for illegal parking.
    Ballina Council was democratically elected by the community and Council need to do their job democratically and report “informal” (as there is no such thing as informal) parked cars to police.

  3. Once again Blake, a nice piece of scaremongering. Consistent with your other posts the the campaign in general.I guess thats one positive takeaway.

  4. The Mayor has consistently spoken about the necessity of ensuring pedestrian safety for the eastern foreshore of the Lake. Reliable information about the Council’s provisions for replacement parking and improved access for elederly people and those with a disability has been available for months/years.

    Trenchant disregard for the facts combined with gross exaggerations has been the forte of those whose focus is on the retention of that unsafe road. If there’s anger about the road situation it correctly should be about the tawdy lobbying to retain it and the gross disrespect towards the Mayor and some Councillors displayed at Saturday’s rally. Considered comments and logical criticisms are prerable mediums to insulting effergies, put-down pictures, grafitti and social-media hysteria.

    I urge people to go to the reliable sources of information – Council’s website – and make an informed decision about the future of the Lake. A few years ago when I first heard about Council’s plan to close that eastern road I opposed it. BUT then I read what Council had to say about it and listened to reliable authorities, so realised that it comes down to this: carpark or parkland. And with the latter the health of both the water and the vegitation will be improved.

    There are many residents and visitors who say they welcome the rehabilitation of the eastern foreshore per Council’s plans – it’s just that they are being responsible about voicing their views rather than joining an angry mob.


  5. David,

    It’s no good throwing your toys out of the pram.

    Repeat protests in the hundreds and 4,000 residents out of 7741 signing a petition against the road closure isn’t down to scaremongering. It is concrete evidence of wide spread opposition to the road closure. You are suggesting that the opponents to the road closure are dupes. That is very high handed and drums up more opposition.

    On the other hand, the dozen or so close the road activists consistently engage in scaremongering by describing their opponents as hotheads. Purely on the evidence of a lone nutter responsible for graffiti 12 months ago.

    Clearly, the issue is all about parking as a means to regulate access to the lake . After all, the proposal involves closing down the largest car park in Lennox Head and not replacing spaces in full. So, there will not be enough parking spaces during the busy summer period. Necessitating the introduction of paid parking. We all understand that for the sake of your agenda you cannot admit it.

    The Lake Ainsworth Interest Group said ‘We’ve sat through many debates about the options and practicalities of bringing the area up to scratch and retaining a road and car parking.’

    This sound a bit obsessive and rather confirms that closing the road is the long running project of a dozen or so wowsers. Can I suggest they get out bit more and enjoy the lake along with the rest of Ballina Shire.

  6. Blake
    You clearly are passionate about your position. All I said was you were scaremongering. You’re the one calling people names.I urge everyone putting in a submission to read whats on offer by both sides. Make an informed contribution to the debate. The councillors will consider it and vote. I’ll accept the decision. I hope you will too.

  7. Blake – you and other save-our-road proponents refer to your pertition and seem to imply that it is the gold standard. It is not, as any political observer let alone political scientist will tell you that petitions have to be correctly formed which Mr Carter’s original one was not. Psychologists will also tell you that when people are hyped up at a rally or becasue they are told they will lose something (regardless of the facts) they will lose their cautions/inhibitions and sign. In fact some people have said that very same thing – in their own words. I know someone who has written asking for his name to be removed from one of those petitions.

    As for claims of majority by those wanting to retain the road – there is NO reliable measure of this across the Shire. Many who have signed are visitors and children. To date Councillors have not been provided with complete and accurate copies of said petitions. What is a reliable measure of community opinion is the fact that votes for Councillors supporting Council’s plans (incl. road closure) increased at the 2016 council elections (comparted with the previous election).

    Try to resist the temptation to justify your position by spurious claims.


  8. My submission to Ballina Council as a Lennox Head ratepayer for 15 years —-I agree with closing the eastern road at Lennox Head and giving it priority for pedestrians.
    1- A fire escape soft surface road from the Recreation Centre suitable for emergency vehicles should remain on eastern side.
    2: Wombat crossings or speed limiting devices or design on the western road as vehicles speed along that section .
    3: No Parking signs placed along most of the western road to stop access to lake on western side .
    4: No Lake Access signs or fences to stop people using the middle western to north western part of lake edge.
    5: Loading Zones spread around lake perimeter road to allow for drop off and pick up of people and gear.
    6: Mobility impaired ramps with associated parking.
    7: Wildlife Zone and sign for vehicle drivers on western road. Maximum speed 40kmh.
    8:Vehicle beach access restricted to only BALLINA Shire residents or approved businesses via leases.
    9: Increase vehicle beach access fees .
    10: Paid Parking for premium lake perimeter car parks and 4 hour limit 24/7. (To deter campers , caravan park patrons and give all a fair access to lake ). Resident exemption sticker ,get Byronites to pay.
    11: Bank erosion control and fences to keep the public out of regeneration areas
    12: Soft surface crossings from car parking area to lake . Bitumen is very hot on feet.
    13: Designate the whole south western road from Surf Club to north caravan park boundary as a Shared Zone . Designed to protect children and give priority to pedestrians instead of cars.
    14: Nose In angle parking for maximum car parking. Allow for longer camper van parking zone close to Surf Club .
    15: Allow for a pathway for bicycle riding on eastern perimeter with bike parking racks scattered all around the lake.
    16: Water bubblers spread around the lake.
    17: Ensure toilets are available in eastern , western and southern sections.
    18- Remove all lighting around lake or provide lighting that does not cause ‘lighting pollution ‘.Apply the appropriate Australian Standards https://www.lightingcouncil.com.au/files/Major%20revision%20of%20obtrusive%20%20lighting%20standard%20AS%204282.pdf

  9. The Preserving Lake Ainsworth group should be aware that the Councils submissions process is the necessary legal response to earlier protests and the petition with 4,000 signatures on it.

    The council are banking on the unwashed masses who use the lake being: 1. Too dumb to understand the importance of the submission process. 2. Too lazy to make a submission opposing the proposal. Let’s show them differently. Submissions close on January 29th.

    Can I suggest that the Preserving Lake Ainsworth group door knock and 1. Provide residents with the Council website address and deadline. 2. Hand out a proforma which opponents can email to the to the Council website 3. The best option is for residents to sign a paper copy of the proforma at the door and for it to be taken and delivered by hand to the council by the Preserving Lake Ainsworth group.

    The proforma might state that:
    I ……..……….. of ……………………………………………………………….. am opposed to the Lake Ainsworth South Eastern Precinct Project because it hinders public amenity. Particularly lake side access by the disabled and elderly. I would also like to point the council towards the 2017 petition opposing the eastern road closure signed by over 4,000 residents.

    Leave a gap for the residents to state other reasons for opposing the road closure.

    Signature and date

    Do not mention paid parking. It’s not included in the proposal (funny that).

    Several hundred submissions will see the project abandoned.

    Sadly, another petition stating that it specifically opposses the Lake Ainsworth South Eastern Precinct Project is needed. Perhaps it could be circulated as the PLA door knock.

    Don’t give up. This is the home stretch.

  10. I should add that the proforma and petition could be circulated in Ballina. As Shire residents they have an equal interest in public amenity The same applies to the wider North Coast community

    Wowser denotes a person who saps all the fun out of any given situation.

    So, by any reasonable measure, describing a dozen activists aiming to stop several thousand people from picnicking and swimming in a lake as wowsers is accurate and quite polite.

  11. K Lavender

    ‘Blake – you and other save-our-road proponents refer to your pertition and seem to imply that it is the gold standard.’

    If the close the road lobby had a petition with 4,000 signatures on it they would be flying it from a mast at the surf club

  12. One last thing.

    Perhaps Preserving Lake Ainsworth could apply for an extension to the submissions period on the basis that it unfairly spanned the holidays.

    The 12 close the road activists have suddenly gone very quiet.

    • Blake. I think the people that care about this issue have decided to do something more productive than argue with you. ie they will write a submission. Thanks for the motivation.

  13. Blakes final response
    After giving this issue more careful consideration, I propose that until January 29th

    1. The Preserving Lake Ainsworth group daily walk around the lake offering picnickers and swimmers a proforma/ submission to sign on the spot.
    2. Daily set up a card table or two to provide visitors with submission/ proformas to sign on the spot and give information.
    3. At the same time circulate a petition that specifically states it opposes the Lake Ainsworth South Eastern Precinct Project
    4. Call the media and organize a gathering at the council office on the day you deliver the submissions to the council.
    5. Perhaps arrange another lake protest on Saturday 27th January and collect hundreds more submissions from protesters on the day.

    Much easier than door knocking and will deliver thousands of submissions.

    That said, it also makes sense to knock on the doors of residents who you know will be happy to sign a submission form.

    This is what the submission process is for. Let’s do this….

  14. David,

    “Blake. I think the people that care about this issue have decided to do something more productive than argue with you. ie they will write a submission. Thanks for the motivation.”

    Very Kind. But should Preserving Lake Ainsworth collect several hundred signed submissions from swimmers and picnickers at the lake this will be enough to stop the road closure. So then they will owe you a bottle of wine. Be sure to share it with the other close the road activists whose comments have contributed.

    Sincere and polite thanks for the motivation


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