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Byron Shire
November 30, 2022

No argument: Nimbin folk need a new loo

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At Tuesday’s Lismore Council meeting Cr Adam Guise moved a motion that Council seeks grant funding from the NSW government to construct an accessible toilet block at Peace Park, Nimbin.

Gwen Trimble was one of the speakers for the project during public access. Ms Trimble said the need for additional public toilet facilities in Nimbin was identified and acknowledged by the community some years ago. ‘Funding requests have been made regularly through the Nimbin Advisory Group (NAG), the Nimbin Neighbourhood Centre, The Friends of Nimbin Pool and the general community.

‘However, we have repeatedly been unsuccessful in budget discussions. Council considered the project would be too expensive.

‘In the last 18 months, a cost-effective design was identified. The NAG used its seed funding to take the project one step further and had plans drawn up and submitted to council staff for costing. The project was then submitted for consideration for this year’s budget, but with council in the dire financial situation it is now in, despite its merit, our project was again unsuccessful.

Saffin’s on the case

‘So as I see it, this is the situation – One: there’s no good argument against the need to construct an accessible toilet block in Nimbin; Two: a NAG member Nick and his wife, Nicole, prepared a comprehensive briefing on the community need for additional public toilet facilities in Nimbin and presented it to the State Member Janelle Saffin.

‘She has pledged her support to lobby the New South Wales State Government for one-off funding grant to cover the construction and maintenance of a toilet block.’

During the debate, Cr Adam Guise reminded those in the chamber that the issue had been before Council many times before. ’To me, it should be a no-brainer. It should be as simple as this Council saying “Yes, we back our community. We back seeking funding for this essential asset”, And let’s get on with it.

‘Let’s stop quibbling over what is an essential public service for a high tourist town community. You’ve heard tonight that an accessible toilet is long overdue. What’s there is inadequate. You can’t have a single accessible toilet attached to the community centre that is only open during certain business hours be considered a public toilet.

Put it on the books

‘We’ve heard that even the local member is on board with advocating for this and, I expect in terms of there being a state election coming up, that there will be money and grants thrown around. So I asked my fellow councillors please use this opportunity now to advocate on behalf of the community and put this on the books.’

Cr Elly Bird said she was very happy to see this on the agenda. ‘I definitely give my unwavering support. It’s been a long time coming. We heard Gwenn Trimble outline the lack of accessible toilets in Nimbin. And that is failing our community. And I’d say a failing of the requirements of our disability access inclusion plan.

‘I think Cr Guise is absolutely correct. With an election on the horizon, it’s an opportunity to put forward projects and proposals that council supports and to seek grant funding for those particular projects.

An amendment

In a two-pronged nod to Janelle Saffin, Cr Rob proposed an amendment that Council support the local MP to continue to lobby for the loo and not let a ‘Greens MP candidate (Cr Guise) try and take credit for something that’s already been done by Labor MP, this council is not supposed to pick sides’.

Cr Andrew Gordon supported the alternative motion speaking against the first (Guise) motion, as we are in an election cycle. ‘The winning candidate, I think, without doubt will be Janelle Saffin in this electorate, and I wouldn’t mind betting that the state government will change as well. So if we’re going to have an application, we must have it from a winner rather than from a local government that might just write a letter. ‘I’m not being disrespectful Councillor Guise, I wish you the best.’

Council voted on the amendment, to endorse and support Janelle Saffin MP’s efforts to seek funding from NSW government to construct an accessible toilet facility at peace park in Nimbin and team Krieg – along with Cr Rob and Cr Cook voted for the amended motion.

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