Questions remain unanswered and handballed while secrecy still surrounds Council’s negotiations with Resilience NSW over plans to create housing for 180 people affected by flooding in Brunswick Heads.
Two locations were announced by Mayor Michael Lyon last week; one is located behind the Stan Thompson Oval on Tweed Street, ‘which will accommodate more than 45 self-contained temporary housing units for up to 160 people’.
The other is located at Torakina Road and Excelsior Drive, Bayside, which will host ‘ten self-contained units accommodating more than 20 people’. The site is next to the Lilly Pilly Community Preschool and Bayside Park.
Short notice was given for two ‘community drop-in sessions’, which were undertaken on September 13.
The Echo asked the mayor where he was sourcing the numbers from regarding how many locals are in need of urgent accommodation.
He did not supply a source, but replied, ‘In terms of the numbers of displaced Byron Shire households in need of temporary accommodation, it is a moving target, as people’s situations change, but we know that it is upwards of 500 households that were displaced’.
The Echo asked ‘Given the plans to house 160 people on, or near, a former tip site behind the Stan Thompson Oval, can you please supply documents that prove that this is safe?’
The mayor did not supply any documents and replied that, ‘The old STP site (125 Tweed Street) has been remediated and the housing is located on land that is not mapped as flood-prone’.
The Echo asked, ‘In the interests of transparency and honesty with the public – Why won’t Council release the other sites Council put forward to the NSW government?’
The mayor replied, ‘The process for a pod village is set by the Housing Taskforce, a process which Council is asked to observe. This includes not disclosing the locations of potential sites until such time as due diligence and the pod village authorisation process is completed. A few have been mentioned at various times in the press, such as Lot 22 in Mullum, or the Mullum Hospital site, and the reasons why they aren’t suitable’.
When asked why Council-operated caravan parks were not considered as an option, he replied, ‘Council caravan parks have been considered as an option but are not suitable for what is required’.
The Echo also asked, ‘It appears that “temporary accommodation” can be extended indefinitely (past two years) as the definition and loopholes are vague. Is that your understanding?’
The mayor replied, ‘Everything else sits with Resilience NSW, but in terms of timeframe, I want to see this rolled out as quickly as possible’.
The September 7 letter sent to Bruns residents by Dominic Lane, deputy state recovery controller from Resilience NSW, said that ‘most people that end up moving into the Brunswick Heads communities will have lived in the Byron Shire before, or very close to it’.
The letter also says, ‘Temporary accommodation may be located on the property for up to two years, depending on housing needs and availability, while people plan for permanent housing’.
The letter also says that works have commenced, and are expected to take approximately 16 to 20 weeks.
‘The sites will be fully supported with all utilities, power, water, sewerage and garbage collection. Once operational, there will be on site management’, says the letter.
For more information about the installation of the pods call Service NSW on 13 77 88.