Bayside council watch: April 2023

The latest on bushcare, toy libraries, a push to ban gas in new homes, and upgrades to local playgrounds.

Bayside bushcare on track for a revamp

The bushcare program helps preserve the natural environment while providing an opportunity for locals to socialise. Image: Bayside Council

A motion has been passed to investigate “opportunities to grow and improve the local bushcare program” with a focus on reviewing funding, resource allocation, and approaches to community education on land management.

“We are aware there are many in our local community who are dedicated to preserving our local biodiversity,” said Cr Jo Jansyn, who submitted the motion.

Currently, the program works at six sites across Bayside.

“This motion comes directly from feedback received from current bushcare participants who feel the current program could be improved,” she said.

Bushcare in the local area is praised for preserving biodiversity, improving water quality, and reducing soil erosion. Preserved bushland also acts as an important ‘carbon sink’ which can help mitigate the effects of climate change.

The initiative also provides opportunities for residents to socialise and recreate outdoors, as well as providing them with training and knowledge on their local environment.

From this motion, a report will be produced outlining what programs, facilities or support is needed to better the program.

Talk of Council-funded toy library

Should Bayside have more than one toy library?

Council is considering investing in toy libraries, with a motion passing to investigate what similar initiatives currently exist in the local area.

A toy library – a community book library, but for toys – aims to give local children access to a plethora of toys while easing cost-of-living pressures for parents and reducing the number of unwanted children’s toys entering landfill.

Community-focused not-for-profit South Eastern Community Connect (SECC) already boasts a toy library in Mascot, with over 1000 toys available for all ages.

For $40 a year, parents can access up to six of these toys every fortnight, with the option to borrow up to 20 toys for birthdays, holidays and events.

“With the membership, parents get unlimited access. They can borrow and return as much as they want,” said toy librarian and family support worker Genie Kang.

“It’s really important for children's development, it’s not just for fun, they learn from the toys, and they encourage children to engage with other family members,” she said.

Cr Jo Jansyn proposed the successful motion off the back of a motion by Cr Greta Werner, who suggested a feasibility study into a council-funded toy library, which failed to pass.

“It’s wonderful that there is a toy library on the eastern side [of the bay], but we may also want one on the western side,” Cr Greta Werner said.

The beginning of the end for gas in Bayside?

Bayside could follow the lead of neighbouring LGAs to ban gas connections in new developments.

Bayside Council will investigate the viability of prohibiting gas installations in new buildings, with a motion passing to seek advice from the NSW Department of Planning on the issue.

The motion was presented by Cr Greta Werner at last week's council meeting in an effort to save residents money on their power bills, reduce carbon emissions and the adverse health effects of gas on the community, and future-proof the suburb for a renewable future.

“Advocates such as Saul Griffith, say that each household can save $5000 per year on energy bills by electrifying homes,” said Cr Werner.

Saul Griffith, inventor and renewable energy advocate, has made headlines with his ambitious proposals to “electrify everything” with existing, cheap technology to rapidly decarbonise the Australian economy.

“This motion is simply to find out what we can actually do as a council to put a prohibition on gas…I think this would save people a lot of money in the future and be really beneficial for our residents,” said Cr Werner.

Advice from the Department of Planning is expected to be reported at the next Planning and Environment Committee meeting on May 10.

Upgrades for Kendall Street and Heslehurst Reserve playgrounds

The Heslehurst Reserve refurbishment will encompass the installation of fresh play equipment designed for children in pre-school and early primary school, enhancement of park seating, and improvements to the landscaping. Image: Bayside Council

Two Bayside playgrounds are set for a facelift, with Kendall Street and Heslehurst Reserve both in varying stages of development.

From a report reviewed at last week’s council meeting, upgrades to Heslehurst Reserve – which currently has equipment that’s 17 years old – will commence in spring this year and be completed by the end of the year, while council is hoping to secure a lease renewal from the Department of Education for the Kendall St site before upgrading.

An improved Heslehurst playground will pack swings and “multi-play unites with slides and climbing items, a spring rider and sensory play,” – as described by a council spokesperson in a statement.

These are just two of the 131 playgrounds that council monitors in Bayside.

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