Our Submission to IPART

Yesterday we submitted our "Fit for the Future" proposal to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART). IPART will now assess whether the City has the capacity to deliver services to the community in a sustainable and efficient way. We have demonstrated in this submission that we are indeed "Fit for the Future" and should not be amalgamated with our neighbouring councils. Click to read the submission. You can read the submission here. An amalgamation at this time would seriously and negatively impact on the City's capacity to deliver during a period of significant development and urban renewal that relies on our expertise and financial investment. Here are four reasons why the City is "Fit for the Future":1. We have scale and capacityThe City of Sydney is a leading council that delivers high quality services and infrastructure while keeping rates and charges low. It has exceptional demonstrated capacity and a proven ability to plan, fund and deliver world-class services and infrastructure that meet the economic, social, cultural and environmental needs of our city and its communities.2. We are sustainableThe City of Sydney's demonstrated effective governance, strong finances and skilled personnel are critical for securing Sydney's continued transformation as a modern global city and to capitalise on unprecedented development investment potential over the next decade.3. We are in a period of unprecedented investmentThe local government area is expected to experience unprecedented development investment over the next decade, subject to the City of Sydney's continued efficient delivery of infrastructure and professional expert services, especially in planning and approvals.4. Amalgamations are disruptive without demonstrated benefitThe financial benefit of an amalgamation is marginal compared to the risks of a loss of business and development confidence due to an uncertain investment climate and disruption to city operations and critical infrastructure projects.This submission recommends: The City of Sydney has scale and capacity to be Fit for the Future. No major structural should change be undertaken to the City's boundaries at this time. Priority action is needed to deliver important reforms to the NSW local government legislative and regulatory framework for governance, financing and collaboration/coordination. To enable integrated strategic planning, local government areas excised and transferred to state agencies (Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, Barangaroo Delivery Authority and UrbanGrowth NSW) should be reintegrated into the City local government area. TELL IPART YOU SUPPORT THE CITY The NSW Government wants to create a mega-council. IPART has also asked the public to comment on their council's submission. If you don't want the City of Sydney to be swallowed up by a mega council, make sure you make a submission to IPART by 31 July using one of the three options below. Your submission can be as long or short and as formal or informal as you like. Use IPART's web form Email IPART at Make your submission in writing. Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal Local Government Division Review of Local Council Fit for the Future Proposals PO Box K35 Haymarket Post Shop NSW 1240 If you choose to email or write to IPART, let them know if you wish for your name or entire submission to remain anonymous. IPART will publish submissions with names unless otherwise directed.

Storm-proofing Green Square

Today I announced that work has commenced on a 2.4km underground stormwater drain to reduce flooding in Green Square during torrential rain events.The torrential storms in April were a graphic reminder of how vital this trunk drain is to make this area a great place for thousands of people to live and work safely. The drain will allow us to safely develop the Green Square town centre - our major new residential, retail and cultural hub.HistoryWhile this urban renewal area was announced as far back as 1996, when I was first elected as Lord Mayor in 2004 the project was virtually moribund. The City took the lead and reviewed planning and financing. Before and after shots of flooding in Green Square. The complexities and challenges were extraordinary - the land in the Town Centre was in 18 different lots of ownership, split between state and local government and private land owners, and the land was heavily contaminated from former industrial uses. There was no funding allocated for essential infrastructure.Flooding in particular was a fundamental problem preventing the area's renewal. In numerous meetings over years I told successive Ministers that this drainage project was a critical linchpin to providing thousands of new homes and jobs in the area. Agreement was finally reached in 2014 and development is underway.Although storm water is a Sydney Water responsibility, the City is funding more than half of the the trunk drainage - putting in 53 per cent of the total cost - to ensure the project goes ahead. Map of the area. The routeThe tunnel route, from Link Road to Alexandra Canal, was chosen to minimise impact on residents, businesses and the environment. Most of this route runs through, or under, property owned by the City of Sydney and on Sydney Water land between Maddox Street and Alexandra Canal.Construction of the drain will begin in mid-2015 and is expected to be finished by the end of 2017.MicrotunnelingWe're using a microtunnelling machine to install pipes underground without disturbing the surface. The machine digs an underground tunnel into which concrete pipes 2.15 metres in diameter are installed. Pits are constructed at either end of each section to launch and retrieve the machine.Tunnelling machines are traditionally given a name and the Green Square machine has been named "Mary Veronica" in recognition of Mary Veronica Neilson. Mrs Neilson was the area's first female alderman (1945 - 1948) and first female Mayor (1946 and 1947) when she served on Waterloo Municipal Council.Developing Green SquareThis area was once Sydney's industrial heartland, but now a lot of the industry has left and new jobs and residents are moving in and making this our fastest growing village. That's why it's important we flood-proof the area.At a cost of more than $90 million, this project is a key component of the City's $440 million transformation plan for new infrastructure and community facilities to ensure Green Square neighbourhood is a great place to live, work and enjoy.While this drain will solve one of our problems, we need the NSW Government to urgently increase its investment in high-growth areas like Green Square, so essential infrastructure such as public transport, schools and child care keep up with growth. 

Building a More Resilient City

Today, in a Sydney first, experts and representatives from almost all of Sydney's 41 councils have come together to develop a long-term plan to help build a resilience plan for our city. The plan will look for ways to better cope with extreme events like April's torrential storms, as well as long term stresses such as housing affordability and other threats, such as terrorism.We have never had General Managers and other senior representatives from all Sydney councils come together before which makes today's workshop event especially significant. We showed in the storms earlier this year how we could help each other, sharing trucks and resources and we would like to continue that cooperation to prepare for future significant events.Today's workshop will set objectives for Sydney's participation as one of the Rockefeller Foundation's 100 Resilient Cities. The 100 Resilient Cities Challenge was launched in 2013 as a $100 million commitment to build urban resilience by the Rockefeller Foundation.Through the 100 Resilient Cities initiative, Sydney has received support to recruit a Chief Resilience Officer to lead development of a Sydney Resilience Strategy.As part of our application to join the initiative, we identified a number of challenges that Sydney faced in becoming a more resilient city - heatwaves, infrastructure failure, flooding and terrorism. We also identified a number of stresses - aging infrastructure, inefficient public transport, unaffordable housing and homelessness.But these are not set in stone and at today's workshop we will discuss the critical issues for Sydney and how we can tackle them together. Today's workshop will guide the Resilience Officer's work.Councils across Greater Sydney have communities, knowledge and issues that are unique to their local areas. By sharing information about key threats we may face and tools we have for addressing those threats we can take a practical and cooperative approach. This is also an opportunity for an open and constructive discussion about the stresses that cities will face.We are stronger together for local action on critical issues such as housing affordability, terrorism and extreme weather events. Today we will be sharing information, expertise and insights in an important conversation to shape Sydney's resilience for our children and grandchildren.Read more about our participation in the 100 Resilient Cities program here: (L-R) Chris Derksema (City of Sydney Director of Sustainability), Elizabeth Yee (Vice President, Strategic Partnerships and Solutions, 100 Resilient Cities), Lord Mayor Clover Moore and Nicola Thomson (Regional Manager, 100 Resilient Cities).

Green Square is Here Day

The City is hosting the Green Square is here community event this Saturday (27 June) and you're invited.Come along to Beaconsfield Park from 10am-2pm to learn more about what's happening in Green Square, meet City staff and get to know your neighbours.Green Square is transforming our southern precinct into a vibrant and sustainable urban development. From its industrial past, Green Square is emerging as a place of innovative housing design, business and retail, and new and old communities proud of their area's past and future.The City has committed $440 million over the next 10 years to deliver quality infrastructure and community facilities in Green Square. We've started our early works for the Library & Plaza, working alongside other developers in shaping the new Green Square Town Centre. Come along on Saturday and see what the streets in the new town centre will look like and speak to City staff about the new community facilities in the area, including the new Library & Plaza, as well as Gunyama Park and the Green Square Aquatic Centre. Our new Aquatic Centre at Gunyama Park, Green Square. As this community grows, transport and other state-provided infrastructure will continue to be a pressing issue. I recently met with the State Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance to once again highlight the needs of residents in this rapidly growing area.We're also working with residents who are experiencing the impacts of construction, and coordinating with Urban Growth NSW and private developers on a comprehensive community relations program during construction periods.I hope to see you on Saturday.Read more details here: 

Refurbishing Reconciliation Park in Redfern

On the weekend I was very pleased to open the newly refurbished Reconciliation Park in Redfern.I was first compelled to run for South Sydney Council because I was concerned about the lack of parks in our local area. Creating this space was one of the first things I did as a Redfern Ward Alderman, so it is a special park for me.I worked with local residents and South Sydney Council to build the initial park and playground on vacant land bounded by George, James and William streets in Redfern. I worked with David Humphreys and Rodney Monk, who were known as the Public Art Squad, to create a community mural in the park titled 'Think Globally Act Locally'. The mural jointly won the Sir John Sulman Prize for art in 1985.When the park was upgraded again in 1997, it was named Reconciliation Park in acknowledgement of the special place that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have in this country and of our on-going commitment to bringing about that reconciliation.When we embarked on this new upgrade in 2012, we asked students at Darlington Public School for their ideas, some of which are incorporated. There is a new playground with a lovely bespoke tree house that includes a perforated roof, a slide, monkey bars and swings.The new playground and the relaxing green space makes for a wonderful space for our diverse community, especially families with young children.I thank everyone who worked to make it a reality: Jane Irwin, Landscape Architect, who designed the park; Fiona Robbe, Landscape Architect, who ran the students ideas session and produced the play equipment design; Wilson Pederson Landscapes, our trusty construction team; and Lisa Dodd and Roxana Vlack from our City Projects team. There are more than 330 small parks and playgrounds across the City area and we're constantly upgrading them for everyone to enjoy.

Fit now and for the future: Council endorses submission to reform process

Last night we held an Extraordinary Council Meeting to consider the City's submission to "Fit for the Future", the NSW Government's scheme to slash the number of local councils.Council endorsed the City's submission that we are fit for the future and should not be amalgamated.BackgroundLate last year, the NSW Government launched its Fit for the Future local government review process, designed to reduce the number of councils in NSW. The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) has been tasked with reviewing all council proposals, which are due by 30 June 2015. I called last night's Extraordinary Council Meeting to discuss our submission to IPART.The NSW Government's ProposalThe Government has proposed the creation of a 'mega-council' for the City to include Botany Bay, Randwick, Sydney, Waverley and Woollahra - a local government area with a population of over 500,000 (the size of the state of Tasmania), but with no increased responsibility or authority. None of the councils or local communities involved support the proposal.The NSW Government has not produced any evidenced that amalgamations lead to better efficiencies or financial outcomes - our evidence shows an amalgamation of the City will negatively impact on the state's economy.Our submissionOur submission demonstrates that the City has scale and capacity to deliver for our local residential and business communities, and for global Sydney, in partnership with the State Government.This is in line with what the vast majority of our local community wants. A statistically sound, random survey carried out by an independent company on behalf of the City found overwhelming opposition to a larger City of Sydney council area.What's at risk?We were amalgamated in 2004 so we know they take three to five years to be fully complete. During that time a significant focus of the organisation must be on the actual amalgamation itself, rather than fully focusing on delivering projects, infrastructure and services.The impact of another City amalgamation at this current time would put hundreds of millions of private investment at risk and impact negatively on Sydney's future prosperity and the NSW economy.A decline in construction activity of just one per cent over the next decade due to disruption or delays would have a negative economic impact in excess of $300 million.We are "Fit"Leading independent financial auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers have said that the City is a "benchmark against which other councils could be compared" and the NSW Government's own Treasury Corporation (T-Corp) rate the City's finances as "strong" with a "positive outlook" - the only NSW council to receive this rating.In the last eleven years the City has: Approved development worth $24 billion; Seen 2,000 new businesses open and 50,000 new jobs created - 40 per cent of all jobs growth in Sydney metro was in our area; Overseen the completion of 8,000 homes in the five years to June 2014, with a further 17,600 approved, but not yet complete; Upgraded 57 unused laneways with a network of plazas where shops and bars thrive; Invested more than $34M every year in the entertainment and cultural life of our city; Provided over 1,000 childcare places, with work being fast tracked to provide another six childcare centres by 2016; Upgraded 105 parks; Fostered new business sectors leading to 90 small bars, 20 food trucks and 24,000 car share members; Completed over 250 major projects including playgrounds, childcare, pools, libraries, theatres, community and cultural spaces - more than any other NSW council - we're now working on 370 as part of our ten-year plan; Won over 85 awards for the design excellence and sustainability of our projects; and Supported the NSW Government's homeless services with a $14 million investment over 10 years. Read my Lord Mayor Minute, endorsed by the Council, here: 

City of Sydney: Fit Now and For the Future

The City of Sydney is finalising our submission to Fit for the Future, the NSW Government's scheme to slash the number of local councils.The Fit for the Future process will decide the shape, size and role of your local council for many years to come. You've told us through our extensive community consultation that the City should retain it's current boundaries and not be amalgamated. Our submission will clearly demonstrate that we are fit now, we are 'fit for the future', and we should not be amalgamated.City of Sydney Councillors will hold an extraordinary council meeting tomorrow (Thursday) evening to discuss the City's submission.This meeting will be public and you are welcome to attend.Extraordinary Council Meeting on the future of the City of SydneyThursday, 18 June at 6:00pmSydney Town Hall Council ChambersThe NSW Government is intent on creating a mega council, by amalgamating the City with Woollahra, Waverley, Randwick and Botany Bay. You can help stop this by sending a clear message that you support our plan to remain as we are.I hope to see you on Thursday night. 

Stamping out illegal accommodation providers

Today we announced the formation of a City investigation squad to bolster efforts to shut down illegal accommodation providers. The squad includes former members of Scotland Yard and the Australian military police. It will target providers who exploit visitors - mainly students and young people on working holidays - looking for cheap, long-term accommodation.These unauthorised and unsafe places put our visitors at risk. We are particularly concerned with fire safety, unauthorised building works and anti-social behaviour. At the press conference announcing the squad's work. The team was established in March and has so far seen: Rooms turned into makeshift bathrooms and people sleeping in laundries; A three-bedroom house with 58 beds and 19 illegally constructed bedrooms; People sleeping in bathrooms and in one case, a pantry; One-bedroom apartments with up to 10 people living in each apartment; Sixteen people living in a two-bedroom apartment; Apartment kitchens with serious cockroach infestations; Disconnected smoke detectors; and People sleeping in an apartment building's fire stairs with fire doors damaged or left open. The team has so far executed more than 20 search warrants at properties across the city, obtaining evidence and gathering witness statements with the assistance of the NSW Police Force.It is led by City Investigative Specialist Roy Cottam, a former Senior Detective who has worked with Scotland Yard and the Police Integrity Commission in NSW. He also lectures on criminology, organised crime and leadership with a number of universities.We are the first council in NSW to establish a specialist investigations team using a multi-agency approach to investigate reports of illegal use of property. We also have an educational campaign targeting universities and tertiary institutions to advise students about safe rental choices.Young travelers and students from all over the world who are attracted to Sydney often book accommodation online, only to arrive and discover unacceptable squalor. This new team will help us discover and prosecute those who are breaking the law and exploiting our visitors.

Social and affordable housing for Glebe

On Sunday I joined Housing Minister Brad Hazzard and CEO of Bridge Housing John Nicolades at Cowper Street in Glebe.Five years after the Labor state government announced that existing social housing on the site would be bulldozed to make way for a mixed redevelopment, work is now getting underway to deliver new housing.This site will be transformed into a modern housing development with a total of 495 units - 247 market dwellings, 153 social dwellings and 95 affordable dwellings plus three retail units. With Brad Hazzard and John Nicolades at the site. The increased amount of social housing on the Cowper Street site will be more accessible for older people in our community, as well as people with a disability.Sydney is facing a housing crisis and all levels of government need to work together to deliver more housing choices in the inner city as the price of real estate soars.Nurses, teachers, police officers, cleaners and bus drivers - the people who help make the city run - are increasingly finding they can't afford to live in it.A diverse housing supply is fundamental to the cultural and social vitality, economic growth and liveability of Sydney.Together we need to look at new models of large-scale affordable rental housing - housing that is delivered through partnerships among private developers, institutional investors, the not-for-profit sector and governments.Other global cities, such as New York and London, are tackling housing affordability through proactive policies and strategies backed by significant funding commitments.The work in Glebe is a good example of what can be done, but we need to do much more of it. I look forward to helping the State Government ensure that more affordable and social housing is made available in our city.

Education Minister dumps inner-city primary school

The Department of Education has given the City of Sydney and the community last-minute notice that it will not proceed with purchasing land in Ultimo for a new primary school.In December 2014, three months before the state election, Education Minister Adrian Piccoli announced that:Agreement has been reached for a new public school serving the inner city to be built on a site to be purchased from the City of Sydney on the corner of Wattle, Jones and Fig Streets, Ultimo.This agreement was reached after the City offered the Department an additional $8.5 million discount on the cost of the site. Despite the publicly-owned land being valued at more than $100 million, the City agreed to sell it to the NSW Government for $74 million.The Education Minister's broken promise is failing the parents and children of Pyrmont and Ultimo. This betrayal from Adrian Piccoli leaves parents and children from across the inner-city in limbo.City of Sydney staff have been working in good faith since August 2013 to make sure that this land could be sold to allow for a new primary school. Since the Minister's announcement in December that the purchase of the land would go ahead, our staff have tried repeatedly to finalise the sale.The Department and the Minister were always aware that the site would require remediation. That is standard practice for any inner-city building site, especially ones like this that have been used for commercial or industrial purposes.This backflip raises the question: was the Minister ever serious about this purchase, or was it simply an attempt to make the issue go away in the lead up to the March election?The City and the Department of Education had already carried out contamination assessments onsite, including soil and groundwater investigations, to determine the required remediation work needed to meet current standards under the Contaminated Land Management Act. The City also prepared a Remediation Action Plan (RAP) that was reviewed and endorsed by a site auditor accredited by the NSW Environment Protection Agency (EPA).Remediation costs were agreed to be $9.5 million, based on a scope of work that substantially exceeds guidelines from the EPA for an educational use. The Department of Education is now claiming the cost would be $53 million.The City had also negotiated for an 80-place childcare centre to be constructed on the site, along with the primary school. The childcare centre was to be owned by the City and provide much needed childcare for local parents.There is strong and continuing growth in the number of families with young children in the City. Forecasts indicate that in the next four years the number of primary-school aged children living in our Local Government Area will increase by 1,171.The Pyrmont/Ultimo area has the highest population density in Australia, with over 14,000 people per square kilometre.Stamp duty from the development boom in Pyrmont/Ultimo has already delivered the NSW Government huge contributions; it's time they delivered adequate services to this community.

Creative Spaces and the Built Environment

Today at the University of Sydney I spoke at the City's forum on Creative Spaces and the Built Environment.The forum brought together experts within the fields of building, planning, access and safety with those working within the cultural, creative and knowledge sector.The knowledge and cultural economy in Sydney is growing fast and we need to make sure our city can support it. More than 85 per cent of creative industries are small businesses, and this sector contributes nearly $45 billion to our national economy. Around 40 per cent of those initiatives based in Sydney.That's why we're building our understand of the regulatory issues impacting upon creative spaces and increasing the number of those spaces in the City.We've already started the process. In order to support and encourage our artists and creative thinkers to live and work in the city, the City of Sydney has developed its Accommodation Grants program and adapted our properties on Oxford and William Streets to host creative start-ups. We've given old shops, offices, warehouses and even a car park a new life by adapting them to house designers, film makers, musicians, screen writers, architects and artists.And recently we gave a grant to the Sydney Fringe Festival for a pop-up theatres trial. The Fringe plans to use around five shopfronts in Newtown and Erskineville as temporary theatres during this year's Festival. The grant will help the Fringe meet the costs of negotiating the approvals process. We hope that this will feed into the development of a temporary theatres license, similar to the licence that's used at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. A City of Sydney live/work creative space. During our consultations for our Creative City Policy we were often told that lengthy, costly and seemingly "irrational" regulatory processes were a deterrent to many cultural initiatives. Small and medium creative spaces talked of the difficulties they had in complying with the Building Code.Applicants and consent authorities are often faced with a lack of clear criteria against which to assess the impact of new initiatives such as performance spaces, micro-manufacturing workshops, studios, galleries and pop-up retail spaces. This leads to increased costs and prolonged assessment periods - benefitting no one.As our cities shift from manufacturing and industry to being drivers of our knowledge and cultural economy, we need our regulatory frameworks to adapt, without sacrificing safety, access or amenity.

The Truth the Tele Won't Print: Grants for a More Liveable City

Today's Daily Telegraph dedicated two full stories and its editorial to criticism of the City's Grants and Sponsorship Program. The program provides funding and support for initiatives that contribute to cultural, social, environmental and economic life in the City. Grants and Sponsorship Program and Funding We know our local community and businesses have a broad range of skills and talents, so we work with individuals, organisations and businesses to bring our vision of a sustainable city to life. By providing cash and in kind support, we help build a wide range of initiatives and projects that make our city diverse, welcoming and a wonderful place to live, work and visit.The Telegraph's criticism focused on grants which were unanimously approved by City of Sydney's Councillors. In 2013/14, the City awarded over $13.1 million through our Grants and Sponsorships Program, including $6.9 million in cash and $6.2 million value-in-kind.One such grant helped 1 Million Women establish a three-month trial to encourage its 82,000 members to reduce home-energy use. Another, $8,730 to the UTS Housing Bike Club, paid for two cargo and 15 community-bikes to help more than 1,200 students with 3,500 accommodation moves a year, cutting down on transport costs.We supported major festivals and events, including Australia's largest corroboree; the Bingham Cup, the international gay rugby competition; Sydney Fringe Festival and the Walsh Bay Arts Festival.We've also helped launch and grow local community events like the East Side Ride, the Newtown Festival and the Surry Hills Festival. And we've partnered with local groups to fund vegie patches, art workshops and pop-up cinemas.Applications for grants are assessed against the City's Grants and Sponsorship Policy and must meet one or more of our key priority areas: Celebrating Culture and Creativity Supporting the Economy and Business Ensuring Environmental Sustainability Building Community The City is a unique place. We provide services for over 200,000 residents, 20,000 businesses and nearly one million visitors a day. Supporting community initiatives is one way we ensure our global city is a liveable, enjoyable and interesting place to be.If you'd like to know more, of if you've been inspired and would like to apply for a grant yourself, visit the City's website here:

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