In an on-again-off-again matter before Lismore Council, the fate of Nimbin’s Sibley Street, Peace Park and the Nimbin Neighbourhood & Information Centre, will be put on hold for a year.
Last November Lismore Council voted for part of Peace Park in Nimbin to be reclassified as Operational and transferred to Nimbin Neighbourhood & Information Centre.
In February this year, spurred on by Councillor Big Rob, that decision was unpicked and was meant to be reviewed at both the March and April meetings with the NNIC coming up with more information, and councillors making a visit to Nimbin to look at the site.
A report was scheduled to come to the April meeting, but flood impacts upon the Nimbin community and a request for the matter to be deferred by the Nimbin Neighbourhood & Information Centre have meant that there have been no further opportunities for councillors to consult with the Nimbin community on this matter.
A staff recommendation
Staff recommended that the matter be deferred for approximately 12 months.
Nimbin Neighbourhood & Information Centre Manager Natalie Meyers found herself back in the public access chair at last week’s Council meeting. ‘I just want to acknowledge the terrible impact that the recent two floods in a month has had on our communities, all of our communities.
‘It’s going to take a huge collective effort by all of us to recover from this terrible disaster. I’m here to support the staff recommendation regarding the boundary adjustment between 7 and 9 Sibley Streets in Nimbin.
‘We want to extend our thanks to the four counsellors who met with myself and our Deputy Chair Matt Bromley last Thursday to visit the site and talk about the options was a constructive conversation, but it’s also clear from that visit that there’s some work to be done.
Ms Meyers said the NNIC wanted to acknowledge that two earlier visits arranged with all the counsellors had to be cancelled because of the floods. ‘Good thing you didn’t come on that second Thursday because you would have been there for about a week. We would have had put you up in the pub. There could have been worse places to be…
Ms Meyers said the NNIC had always planned to revisit and redesign the concept plan once we have secured the land in question. ‘We weren’t planning around an unknown situation, but as a matter is not progressing as we thought it would, it’s clear we need to expedite the revised concept plan and consult with the community about this before we go any further.
Working to a social licence
‘We are working to our current social licence, which to date has been overwhelmingly to retain the area of land in question is open recreational space, retaining the basketball facility and the flat open area which is used frequently for various community purposes. So any new ideas or options for that site, such as putting a building on it, for example, would have to be taken to the community as a separate issue because we don’t have a social licence in relation to that conversation. But we are open as we said last week to having a conversation.
‘All of this is going to take some time to achieve especially because of the impact of the flood disaster.
‘Since the first of March, the Neighbourhood Centre has been heavily involved in the local response and recovery efforts in Nimbin. We’ve been doing around 200 occasions of service a day for the past five weeks, which is approximately double our usual service levels. We’ve been doing case coordination for impacted residents trying to navigate their way around the relief payments. We’ve been providing food relief, essential supplies, vouchers, mental health support, and we’re also collecting donations via a flood appeal.
‘We’ve been hosting additional service providers. We’re also registered with GIVIT so we’re running a campaign around people needing essential items to be replaced. And we’ve also been collecting key information for council as to the nature and extent of landslides impacts and damage to key access infrastructure.
‘So our priority right now is continuing to work on the immediate recovery issues in our community. We therefore support the recommendation that the matter be deferred until such time as we can undertake fresh community consultations around a revised plan. And we note this will take some time because of the circumstances we find ourselves in. And as we’ve stated previously, we remain committed to working constructively with council and to achieve the best outcomes for the Nimbin community and for the seven Sibley Street Community Project.‘
We don’t give away ratepayer land
Cr Big Rob reiterated a point he has been making since his first meeting as a councillor, in regards to council ‘owned’ land. ‘We don’t just give away ratepayer land, we just don’t do it.’
Cr Vanessa Ekins said she supported the deferral so that the Nimbin community have an opportunity to consult about what they would like to see in their community. ‘I have to say I’m so impressed.
The Nimbin community for decades is our most active village. They are so motivated and inclusive about talking about what happens in their village. And the fundraising that they have done to purchase Sibley house and this other block of land which they’ve raised money to purchase, is phenomenal. None of our other villages do that.
‘So I think it’s not up to us to say what happens there and, “it’s ratepayers land”. It’s part of a village, a strong, passionate village that is really engaged in what happens in their space.
‘We’ve spent quite a bit of time in this chamber talking about master planning for the Nimbin village and I think it’s really important that we respect the huge amount of energy and passion for their village that has gone into what happens in Nimbin.
Resolved last November
‘Deferring this matter, which we’d resolved to address in November last year, just does put another whole lot of work on that Nimbin community but as you heard the speaker say earlier tonight, it’s really important that that community discusses what happens to them, and it is not up to us to say what infrastructure goes where. It’s up to the community that lives there, and particularly the community that fundraised to purchase that land in the first place.
‘It’s a really important part of their village. It’s up to us to be respectful of that and respect the wishes of that community and allow them to come up with some concept designs and plans and talk amongst themselves about what they would like and then we can have a really clear view of what how to go forward with that.’
The deferral of the Peace Park reclassification report was carried with Councillors Colby, Ekins, Hall, Jensen, Guise, Bird, Gordon, Cook, Bing and Krieg, for – opposed was Councillor Big Rob.