The Ballina Council meeting was completed in near record time on Thursday morning with three councillors giving apologies for the meeting. Congratulations to Cr Ben Smith and partner Jacinta on the birth of baby Addison.
Council heard deputations from Mr Geoffrey Wegg, opposed to an amended DA for a residential property in Allens Parade Lennox Head (which was approved with conditions by Council); Mr Jim Pike proposed that the new Ballina Indoor Sports Centre be named after Olympian Kerry Saxby-Junna; and Mr Simon Davis spoke about the conduct of RMS principal contractors and its impacts on his local fencing business.
Councillors were unanimous in their support for Cr Eoin Johnston’s subsequent motion to write to state ministers regarding the part- or non-payment of money owed to sub-contractors on the Pacific Highway upgrade and to support calls for the implementation of the federal Murray Report into security payment laws.
Council approved the detailed design and the tender evaluation plan for the Ballina Indoor Sports Centre and agreed to receive a further report on a potential name for the Centre.
Medical rooms a fire risk
The owners of two properties used as medical rooms in Grant St, Ballina, will face criminal prosecution for repeated failure to provide annual Fire Safety Certificates after Council endorsed the commencement of legal action. Cr Keith Williams sought to add signage to the front of each building to warn users of the potential risk but staff advised that this could not be done under the current policy.
Action against tip
Numerous questions were asked by councillors about the development application for the expansion of an existing resource recovery facility in Northcott Cr, Alstonville. Most councillors had received representations from constituents concerned about dust and the compliance of the business with its current DA. Staff advised that compliance actions had been and would continue to be undertaken in respect of the premises and that significant changes had been implemented by the business since February.
Council unanimously approved donations to a wide range of Community and Sporting Groups totalling $79,000 and the donation of rates and charges valued at $68,000.
Rock wall and dredging
Two of the longest debates at the meeting involved the North Creek Dredging Project and the Lennox Head Rock Wall and Seawall Upgrade Study.
The North Creek Dredging Report noted that significant state regulatory hurdles still need to be addressed and a NSW Government grant of $230,000 did not cover enough of the anticipated costs of over $720,000 to gain an approval to commence dredging.
Cr Keith Williams moved that Council note the complementary nature of the North Creek Dredging Project and the North Creek Coastal Management Plan and seek the redirection of the funding to support the development of the Coastal Management Plan. Cr Williams argued that the regulatory approval of dredging would be easier if it was supported by a state-endorsed management plan.
‘We know we need to address a number of contributors to poor water quality in North Creek, particularly acid sulphate soils and a poorly maintained drainage network. I support dredging North Creek because I believe it’s necessary to get more salt water up the creek where our remaining oyster farmers operate, and back into the Ballina Nature Reserve. However, a comprehensive plan to improve water quality is the best way forward to ensure the success, both for the health of the creek and the dredging project’, said Cr Williams.
A rather dry report on investigations into old rock walls in the north of Lennox Head got more interesting when Cr Sharon Cadwallader included amendments for Council to step up lobbying efforts in conjunction with other coastal Councils for greater resources for climate change adaptation and mitigation.
Cr Keith Williams noted that Australia spends ten times more in disaster recovery than disaster mitigation and NSW needs to look at the resilience framework being adopted in other jurisdictions.
‘The approach recommended in the report is that we wait until disaster happens and then we reinforce the rock wall when we need to. The problem with this approach is having the rock material and the equipment ready when we don’t know when we’ll need it.’
‘The report says a rock wall will cost $29 million over three stages. However a sand pumping jetty at the Ballina Bar would cost around the same amount, but deliver far greater economic benefits to the region’, he said.
‘The beach at Lennox has receded at least 15m over the last few decades because of the sand being trapped behind the South Wall of the Richmond River. If we only build a rock wall at Lennox we will eventually see no beach at high tide due to sea level rise. Putting our resources into beach nourishment with sand from the Ballina Bar and increasing the resilience of the beach to storms may be a better long-term strategy’, said Cr Williams.
The motion calling for more action on adaptation to climate change by federal and state governments and calling on the state government to dredge the Richmond River Bar was passed unanimously.