Delivering on child care

We know there is a desperate need for childcare in our city and we’re using every lever available to increase supply. One such lever is the Childcare Development Control Plan (DCP) we introduced in 2013, which was the first of its kind. The DCP makes it compulsory for all new buildings over a certain size to provide space for a childcare centre. Our planning staff have also been negotiating the inclusion of childcare centres through Voluntary Planning Agreements (VPAs) with developers when they propose new developments. Recent approvals include a centre in the proposed Haymarket Library building, as well as two other centres in the proposed redevelopment of the George St Cinema site. All three will be handed over to the City to run as a result of the VPA. We’ve also been busy building our own centres – four new centres in Alexandria, East Sydney, Annandale and Green Square are due to finish construction by the end of this year. All this work has resulted in a net increase of 967 new operating places, over 2,000 places that have been approved or are under construction, 368 places currently under assessment and 220 places subject to a design competition – overall it’s an increase of more than 3,500 places. This means we will meet the demand for new spaces – making the City of Sydney one of the few Governments in Australia to prioritise and meet this important need. By the end of 2016, the City itself will own 27 centres, making us a substantial provider of child care facilities. As a result of our work over the past 12 years we have created a more liveable city and many young families are choosing to stay here, which is terrific and we know how important childcare is to those families – that’s why childcare continues to be a priority for the City. Pictured above: Construction nearing completion at the East Sydney Early Learning Centre

Bold new climate targets

Despite the longest election campaign ever, there has been little said on climate change. That is a shocking omission. Climate change is the single greatest challenge we face and it’s starting to bite – the monster storm along the East Coast, the shocking new evidence of bleaching coral on the Great Barrier Reef, the fact that for 13 months straight we’ve set new global temperature records every month. At the City, we're doing everything we can to slow this dangerous warming and have again raised the bar with ambitious new targets. Our new plan, Environment Action 2016 – 2021 (which we adopted at Council this week_ charts a course for the next five years that will see us use 50% renewables by 2030 and have net zero emissions by 2050. Across our area, we’ve worked with businesses and the community to slash emissions (19%) without compromising our booming economy (37% growth), meeting the targets we set in Sustainable Sydney 2030. We have been carbon neutral since 2007 – the first Australian government to do so.  Some of the key initiatives of Environment Action 2016 – 2021 include: An energy retrofit program for apartment buildings (important because 75 per cent of our residents living in apartments); $10 million to accelerate the uptake of renewable energy across the LGA; A trial of battery storage for solar energy at one of our depots; A competition to encourage Sydney’s first net zero emissions buildings; Completing our cycling network and connecting it with 10 regional cycling routes; Facilitating a private water utility to deliver recycled water to the wider Green Square area (278 hectares); A new waste strategy to achieve 70 per cent recycling and recovery of residential, commercial and industrial waste in our LGA; Planting 600 new street trees and 1300 new trees and shrubs in City parks each year until 2021; and A Heatwave Response Plan to deal with our largest natural killer, heat, with our climate continuing to warm. Read Environment Action 2016 – 2021 online and offer your feedback here: Together we can ensure that Sydney has a sustainable and prosperous future.

Celebrating NAIDOC Week in the City

This year’s NAIDOC Week theme, ‘Songlines: The Living Narrative of Our Nation’, encourages us to learn about the Dreamtime – when ancestral spiritual beings shaped our rivers, lakes, plants, land formations and living creatures. Our program of events celebrating NAIDOC Week continues to grow, and this year everyone who comes to Hyde Park for NAIDOC in the City will be able to learn a lot about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures through displays from the Australian Museum, the Powerhouse, the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence and others. There’s a terrific range of music performances and also a wonderful emphasis on activities and fun for kids – whether it’s a Dancestry workshop with NAISDA and Muggera Dancers or story-telling with Anita Heiss. NAIDOC Week is a great opportunity to recognise and celebrate our Indigenous cultural fabric – something we do every day at the City. I hope you enjoy this diverse program for NAIDOC Week and take the chance to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the country. See the full program here:

“I’ve always said: The truth will set you free, but first, it will piss you off.”

That headline quote came from Gloria Steinem last week, lighting up the Eternity Playhouse in conversation with Leigh Sales at our very special CityTalks discussion on gender equality. Leigh then moderated a panel with Gloria and myself, Senator Penny Wong, Larissa Behrendt, Kay Koplovitz and Narelle Hooper.

Court victory against illegal accommodation networks

This week our Illegal Accommodation Strike Force secured the conviction of the landlord responsible for operating an illegal hostel disguised by a Chippendale shop.

Supporting public art in the city

It felt a little surreal to wake up on Thursday and see the Daily Telegraph attack me for removing public art. "There is absolutely nothing wrong with public investments in art," the Tele said in its editorial – I’m so glad they’re finally on board!

Celebrating Sydney in Guangzhou

This Sunday I fly to Guangzhou, China, leading a 100-person delegation to mark the 30th anniversary of our sister city relationship. The delegation includes businesses traveling with the Australia China Business Council, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and representatives from the University of Sydney, University of Technology Sydney and 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. 

Three new childcare centres to open this year

More and more families are choosing to make their home in the inner city – it’s a real endorsement of the work we’ve been doing to make the city liveable.

Teaching our children about nature and sustainability

TV personality Costa Georgiadis surprised children at Alexandria Child Care Centre this week by turning up with a new worm farm to show them how food scraps can help create new life in urban gardens.

Supporting fashion in the City

The City is once again supporting Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia, to promote Australian designers on a global stage. I also encourage you to visit The Design Residency (72 Oxford Street, Paddington) where graduates from Raffles College are displaying their runway collections.

This Sunday: Quarry Green launch

This Sunday I will launch the upgraded green space at Quarry Green in Ultimo. We’ll have entertainment and refreshments and I’d love for you to join us in enjoying this beautifully revitalised park.

WestConnex - a disaster for the east and west

The future of the Bays Precinct urban redevelopment is in doubt after new images of a massive spaghetti style interchange being planned for Rozelle as part of the WestConnex project were revealed. Click to read the SMH story on the new interchange. Neighbourhoods around the Rozelle interchange including Lilyfield, Rozelle, Leichhardt, Annandale and Glebe, will be severely impacted with flyovers and off ramps pouring traffic onto local roads.The Government's own documents make it clear that congestion will increase on the ANZAC and Sydney Harbour bridges as a direct result, overwhelming these vital links.This just reinforces that WestConnex is a disaster for our city - east and west.The massive spaghetti style interchange planned for Rozelle threatens the future of the Bays Precinct urban redevelopment - instead of a thriving digital hub, we'll get congested roads and polluting vent stacks.An interchange planned for Camperdown will overwhelm Broadway and Parramatta Road with increased traffic. If it's built, WestConnex will have a disastrous impact on the people who live and work in the inner city and inner west. It will massively worsen congestion and severely impact air quality.A new report shows that any benefits of the $16.8 billion-plus WestConnex motorway will be outweighed by its spiraling costs and the worsening congestion it will deliver to local roads.The independent report - commissioned by the City of Sydney from SGS Economics and Planning - dismisses the Updated Strategic Business Case released by the NSW Government as 'a confused document filled with contradictions".At $16.8 billion, WestConnex is nearly triple the combined cost of recent motorways built in Sydney - the M4, M5, Harbour Tunnel, M2 and Eastern Distributor would cost $6.1 billion in total in today's dollars.Additional stages of WestConnex under development could see the total cost reach more than $30 billion. This makes it one of the most expensive road projects ever undertaken in the world. So you'd hope it comes with some big returns!But the estimates show that most drivers will only save less than five minutes and the road network around the toll road and some sections of the tunnel will reach capacity as soon as 2031, only eight years after completion.The figures also show that on key corridors, public transport is quicker than driving and will be in the future.It is an appalling return especially when you consider what else that money could be spent on - public transport which is so badly needed in western Sydney, land for homes, schools and hospitals.It's time for all construction work on this project to be suspended until the Government can prove that WestConnex provides NSW taxpayers with a better return on the billions being invested on it than potentially cheaper options such as public transport or demand management.

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