It’s unclear what the NSW government is paying in rent for its first ‘mini-village’ for disaster survivors, but one suggestion for spending the council revenue is being heard today.
In agenda notes for today’s ordinary Ballina Shire Council meeting, staff said the rental lease between the state government and the council for land on the Wollongbar Sports Field included a confidentiality clause.
‘Any public discussion on this Notice of Motion should not refer to the rental figure, unless Council resolves into confidential session,’ the notes said.
Terms of the lease were to remain ‘strictly confidential’.
Staff also explained the government was paying rent to the council on a monthly basis and had ‘the option to terminate with one month’s notice’.
‘Whilst the lease is for a period of two years, the full receipt of the funds may not eventuate if the lease is terminated early,’ staff notes read.
The NSW government announced earlier this month $350 million in funding for up to 2,000 temporary emergency ‘housing pods’, which so far appear similar to so-called ‘dongas’ used on construction and festival sites.
Wollongbar ‘way of life’ under pressure, says Greens councillor
Greens Ballina Shire Councillor Simon Chate didn’t refer to the lack of guaranteed funds in the confidential deal when putting forward his motion for money raised to be spent on a new bike path to Alstonville.
Cr Chate’s notes said while the government’s planned emergency accommodation in the form of up to 130 temporary ‘housing pods’ on the sports field for disaster survivors was an ‘essential and appropriate response in the current climate’, the community of Wollongbar needed to be acknowledged.
An expected influx of people, infrastructure and vehicles to Wollongbar would, he said, add pressure on existing village infrastructure and the ‘way of life’ there.
The Greens councilor called for ‘appropriate compensation’.
Call for urgent investigation of new bike path on ‘very dangerous’ route
The track between Wollongbar and Alstonville would run along Pearces Creek Road, a route the councilor described as ‘very dangerous’ for bike riders and pedestrians.
Yet, he said, it was the only available option for pedestrians and cyclists travelling to and from Alstonville.
‘Many cars travel along this road at between 60 – 80kph and pedestrians and cyclists risk their lives by having to travel on the road itself,’ Cr Chate wrote in notes for his motion.
The motion also called for the council to urgently investigate and cost the path project, and for any remaining funds to be directed to other areas of benefit to the Wollongbar community, such as footpaths.
Council plans already underway for new bike path
Staff notes on Cr Chate’s motion said there were plans for a new shared pathway already in a draft Delivery Program for 2022/23 to 2025/26.
The program included $110,000 for path works on Pearces Creek Road in 2025/26, as identified in the Pedestrian Access and Mobility Plan (PAMP), staff said.
But staff said the council was required to make sure there was a shared access way from the Pearces Creek Road entrance to Alstonville before it started building the new pathway through the sports field.