A second temporary ‘mini-village’ for flood affected people is to be set up soon in the Ballina Shire, Mayor Sharon Cadwallader told The Echo on Monday.
‘It will be a large village, bigger than the one at Wollongbar,’ Councillor Cadwallder said, before declining to say exactly how many people the new village would cater for.
The mayor said final numbers would depend on need but that the village would include a variety of housing options from caravans to two and three-bedroom modular homes.
The modular homes were being manufactured by prison workers further south in Grafton, the mayor said, and were to have arrived already.
Delivery this week had been delayed, she said.
Wardell temporary village to include schools
An official lease between the council and the government over the land being used in Wardell for the temporary village wasn’t required, unlike the arrangement in place for the first temporary village on the Wollongbar Sports Fields.
The council didn’t own the land in Wardell, rather, it was Crown Land and Jali Land.
A nearby golf course was excluded from the temporary village take-over, Cr Cadwallder said.
The new village would include a pre-school and a primary school that would likely cater to many survivors and displaced persons from the Cabbage Tree Island flood, Cr Cadwallader said, as well as other people from the broader region around Wardell.
Rebuilding of the public primary school in Wardell would happen at the same time, the mayor said, with demountable classrooms to be used on-site in the meantime.
The mayor said she wasn’t aware of any plans for retail outlets such as general stores to be included in the new temporary village at Wardell.
Shops would require commercial leases whereas the village was a publicly funded project, the mayor said.
People staying in the village would continue to have access to a goods distribution centre in Ballina indefinitely, she said, confirming there was no set date for the centre’s closure.
Another temporary village was planned for Ballina, the mayor said, but plans for the project weren’t as well-developed as those for the Wardell village.
Flood inquiry ‘not just a talk fest,’ says mayor
The mayor had not long returned from a visit to Canberra, where she’d thanked the government in some respects but also made clear the severity of the crises Ballina has faced in recent times.
That clarity included disappointment over the delay and initial discrepancies of federal disaster recovery payments.
The mayor also spoke as part of a Ballina Shire Council submission to a state upper house inquiry into the government’s response to the flood events throughout New South Wales in early 2022.
She said she was 100% confident the inquiry committee led by Labor’s Walt Secord was taking submissions seriously and that recommendations would be implemented with urgency.
‘It’s not just a talk fest,’ Cr Cadwallader said.
‘We’ve had a rollout of support – the sewage infrastructure fund, the back to home grants extension, the temporary housing villages, rates support,’ she said.
‘Every time I turn around there’s another level of support for our flood affected communities.’
Ballina mayor keen for upstream sewage repair to take priority
The government most recently announced a $145 million fund to repair sewage infrastructure but the Lismore City Council was quick to claim what it called the ‘lion’s share’ of the fund for repair to catastrophic damage at the East Lismore Treatement Plant.
‘We had switchboards and things like that that went under water,’ Cr Cadwallder said, ‘but ours would be at the lower end of the scale’.
‘We’re very happy for people upstream to have their systems repaired first,’ the mayor said, ‘so we can start to rescue our tourism industry and so it’s safe for the community to swim and for marine life’.
The mayor said she wanted the community to know the Lismore plant was no longer pumping raw sewage into the river system.
The effluent was disinfected but ‘not as disinfected as it should be’, the mayor said.
When the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Commisson was first announced, the mayor had said she wanted longterm housing to be a priority as well as drains.
Speaking this week, the mayor said social housing was still a priority but that ‘checks and balances’ had to happen and delays were therefore inevitable.