It's been another year of action for our CBD and our villages and all our communities!
Since 2004, we've completed over 250 major projects including parks, playgrounds, childcare, pools, libraries, theatres, community and cultural spaces. We're now working on 370 projects as part of our ten-year plan.
This year we've renewed St James Reserve in Glebe, Reconciliation Park in Redfern and Chelsea Street Playground in Redfern.
We've installed a fantastic new children's bike track at Sydney Park, and developed a design for The Crescent at Johnston's Creek which includes new skate facilities.
We've completed O'Brien's Lane Reserve Park in East Sydney, and the Franklyn Park Community Space in Glebe has had a complete makeover with a new roof and floor, an accessible bathroom and kitchenette.
We're about to go to tender for the Newcombe Street closure in Paddington, adding new trees, paving and a grassed area.
We've just completed consultation for Kepos Street Park in Redfern and we'll tender for the construction of four new basketball courts at Perry Park in Alexandria early next year.
We hope to complete Quarry Green in Ultimo by the end of this year and O'Connell Park in Newtown by March next year.
The East Sydney Community and Arts Centre is under construction opposite Eternity Playhouse in Burton St and will include improved facilities for 'out of hours' school care, a multi-purpose hall and wonderful renewed park.
Work underway on the Juanita Neilsen Centre includes great public art commemorating its namesake, outdoor play space, a gym, increased community hire spaces and improved street activation.
We've contributed funding to improvements at our partnering Animal Shelter in Sutherland, where our abandoned pets go because it has the lowest kill rates in Australia. Since 2012, the Shelter has rehomed 202 dogs and 612 cats.
Residential development at Harold Park is almost complete and by the end of 2018 there will also be 76 affordable rental housing units.
The exciting Tram Sheds redevelopment is underway and we've started work on the new parkland connecting to Glebe foreshore to complete 27 hectares of continuous harbour foreshore parkland.
This year we launched Sydney's largest stormwater harvesting system. The $11.3 million upgrade of Sydney Park wetlands is providing a sustainable water supply for our park. We've created beautiful new landscaping and wetland habitats, water cascades, pathways, lighting, picnic areas, bridges and viewing platforms for the whole community to enjoy.
Providing child-care for the ever-increasing number of young families remains a priority, with new council owned centres due to be opened by the end of next year in Darlinghurst, Glebe, Green Square and Alexandria. We've actively encouraged private childcare centres and at March 2015, 95 childcare centres were offering 5,055 childcare places across the LGA. Development applications approved or under assessment could add a further 2,588 places.
We also actively encourage design excellence in private development as well as ensuring it in our own public projects. City planners work closely with our Design Advisory Panel and developers to guide outcomes, including public benefits like child-care centres, public art, creative spaces, end-of-trip cycling facilities and car share.
Over the past decade, our projects have won more than 85 national and international awards. This year, awards include:
- The 'Facility of the Year' award for Prince Alfred Park Pool by the Australian Recreation Institute; and
- The 'Excellence in Innovation' award for "Middle Ground" our after-school care program by the Network of Community Activities.
2015 YEAR OF THE CITY
2015 has been the year that cities have finally been put back on the agenda. The Prime Minister says that cities should be national priorities and that he supports innovative industries and public transport.
We are participating in the Rockefeller Foundation's 100 Resilient Cities Initiative along with cities including London, Paris, New York and Singapore. We're working with the State Government, businesses and local councils to develop a comprehensive resilience strategy for metropolitan Sydney.
The George Street light rail and the massive redevelopment of Green Square are now under way.
Our policy is to balance meeting state targets to provide homes for future populations and at the same time protect existing heritage areas by focusing new developments in former industrial areas.
Investment in Green Square has grown to $13 billion, while its estimated number of residents has increased to 61,000 by 2030, with around 22,000 jobs in the Town Centre.
Our commitment has been to get good design for residential development and great public domain, beautiful parks and community facilities for our resident and worker communities.
We've committed $540 million for roads, stormwater, footpaths and street furniture and facilities including childcare, a new library and plaza, new parks and playgrounds, an aquatic centre, affordable housing and creative spaces.
There is an urgent need for light rail and we invested more than $40 million to secure the transport corridor, even though it is a State Government responsibility. It is welcome that now the Transport Minister, Andrew Constance, has recognised this need and City staff are now working with Transport NSW to assess funding and route options.
We also know Green Square will need new primary school facilities. We've identified possible sites and are looking to the State Government to fulfil its responsibility.
It's an enormous challenge to get the State to recognise the need for new inner city schoolsâ€”there's little progress on the Government's commitment for a new secondary school and it reneged on its agreement to buy the City's depot for a new Ultimo School, despite a substantial discount and offers to further reduce the price if the redevelopment included more child care.
Another state responsibility at Green Square, trunk drainage, took years of advocacy on our part before the current government responded. The City is funding more than half of this essential project, despite it being another state responsibility; we can't build planned infrastructure without it because of the serious flooding. (Remember April's severe storms.) This $100 million project should be completed late 2017, as will our water harvesting system for the retail and residential precinct in the Town Centre â€“ the largest scheme of its kind in Australia.
Future residents may be able to work close to home, as we are protecting the land adjacent to Green Square for industry, business, jobs and affordable rental housing. By 2030, up to 9,000 more workers are expected in this area.
We've completed Ebsworth Street in the Town Centre, the first inner city high street built in over a century; and we've started construction on the stunning Green Square Community Library and public plaza, with detailed design underway for the Aquatic Centre and Gunyama Park.
By the end of next year, the Creative Centre and Community Shed will be housed in heritage buildings on the former South Sydney Hospital site. These will accommodate community uses ranging from art workshops and studios, theatrette and rehearsal space and a hall.
These new facilities respond to needs across our southern areas and a new east-west link road will provide quick access from Alexandria, Erskineville, and Ashmoreâ€”another former industrial site undergoing residential renewal.
At a time when open space is increasingly important, Moore Park continues to be threatened by secret deals for development, new sports stadia and car parking, and the Centennial Parklands Trust has released a disappointingly limited plan for Moore Park's future that continues to treat it as a cash cow.
The Trust should go back to the drawing board. We need a long term plan that protects our precious park and responds to the needs of surrounding residents, including Green Square on its southern boundary.
I am increasingly alarmed about the planned WestConnex motorway. The Environment Impact Statement now on public exhibition confirms that the St Peter's interchange will pour traffic into already congested streets of Green Square, Alexandria, Erskineville, Ashmore and Redfern. Sydney Park will be surrounded by multi-lane freeways and King Street, our most successful main street, is threatened.
Please make a submission on these important State plans for WestConnex and Moore Park. Details are on the fliers available on the tables here today.
There is also a petition about Surry Hills light rail. The City wasn't involved and didn't have a say about the choice of the Devonshire Street route for the light rail from Central to Moore Park, and we want to make sure the route is adequately landscaped and there are adequate stops. Currently there is only one at Northcott. In the other areas there are multiple stops. I looked at light rail in Paris and saw how valuable a grassy verge and other landscaping are for quiet and attractive light rail.
TRANSPORT AND STREET UPGRADES
The City has now completed 110 km of our 200 km cycling network including separated cycle ways, shared paths and other interventions in smaller streets.
The loss of College Street is a blow, but we are committed to re-instating it after completion of the light rail. And completed this year were Castlereagh and Liverpool Street cycleways, the Wilson Street cycle route to Leichhardt and City South, and the Broadway bicycle connection. The Bourke Street shared path in Waterloo is underway.
We continue to provide free courses on cycling in the city, bike care and maintenance.
And the growing numbers of bike trips that have doubled over the past five years â€“ are being supported by businesses increasingly providing end-of-trip facilities. More people riding means less congestion for those who need to drive.
Our support for car share has seen the market grow and reduce the demand on parking â€“ there are now 26,000 car share members using just two per cent of on-street spaces.
Each car share vehicle replaces around 13 private vehicles, which is around 8000 vehicles not parked on our streets. That's an enormous benefit especially as some areas of our city have more resident permits than on-street spaces available.
We're improving pedestrian links in the city centre and continue to advocate for pedestrians to be given better priority over through traffic â€“ especially as 92% people are pedestrians.
We're undertaking a $50 million program to improve lighting along footpaths in the CBD. And we are installing 62 new smartpoles with LED lights and more than 12,600 square-metres of granite paving, along eight major routes including Castlereagh, Elizabeth and Pitt streets. We're rolling out a suite of new street furniture, with new trees and rest areas for shade.
In Chinatown, a new pedestrian plaza, a boulevard linking Haymarket to Darling Harbour and extensive street upgrades will create more space and better access.
And we completed the work needed to connect Barangaroo Reserve to Millers Point by expanding Munn Reserve and upgrade neighbouring streets with new trees, footway widening and new crossings.
HOUSING AFFORDABILITY AND HOMELESSNESS
Housing is another State responsibility and we are very concerned about the growing lack of affordable housing. In March, we held a summit with 140 key experts, followed by a packed City Talk for the broader community.
Council is now finalising a Housing Issues Paper with options for action, but we know the crisis will only be solved with government policy and the government and industry working together.
During 2015, we've continued regular meetings with social housing tenants and we've increased funding for Redfern Legal Centre to support and advise tenants being evicted in Millers Point.
And we continue to be the only Council in Australia with a dedicated homelessness unit. During April's severe storms and in November's heat wave, we worked with state agencies and service providers to provide shelter in our community facilities as well other support.
In 2015, we gave 472 grants worth $14.5 million to suport local businesses, community groups and cultural organisations.
Some of these diverse projects include installing small scale solar on apartment buildings; training for Asylum Seekers Centre volunteers; providing phone apps to support young people struggling with alcohol; funding for a domestic violence awareness campaign for the LGBTIQ community as well as; as well as more than 60 events in Sydney Art Week, and the Chippendale BEAMS Art Festival.
I donated $10,000 from my Lord Mayor's Salary Trust to the Haveachat community cafÃ© in Glebe so it could continue providing a community meeting space for social housing residents.
We invest over $34 million each year into the cultural and creative life of our city including funding for major events like the Sydney Writers' Festival, Sydney Film Festival and Mardi Gras.
After 13 years of the popular Art & About festivals that jam-packed temporary public art events into a single month, this year we transformed it into a year long calendar of creativity.
We also launched Art Money, a scheme to provide interest-free loans to buy art works from City galleries; made 17 council venues available for rehearsal spaces; and we're looking at changing our regulatory framework to make it easier to set up new creative spaces.
Four retail and 14 office spaces on Oxford Street are part of the City's Creative Spaces program. $2.29 million has been spent on local goods and services since April 2012 and more than 109,095 people have visited the spaces â€“supporting our young creative talent and the Oxford Street economy.
We're delighted that Object: Australian Design Centre has moved into our William Street creative hub, where we also provide six low-cost, live-in artist studios.
The Hayes Theatre Company had a second very successful year at our Greenknowe Avenue theatre; as did the Darlinghurst Theatre Company at Eternity Playhouseâ€”with a spectacular 55 per cent increase in its subscriptions.
We have also established a new non-profit company to manage the City Recital Hall with a Board led by Renata Kaldor and comprising people with expertise and experience in business, fine music, the arts and the law. The Board is charged with increasing and broadening the use of the Recital Hall and opening it up to new audiences.
With the support of the RSL, the Australian Government and the NSW Government, the Coloured Diggers Project and others, we unveiled a public artwork to commemorate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service men and women in Hyde Park â€“ YININMADYEMI Thou didst let fall.
As part of our work to diversify the City's late night economy, our small bar count is up to 100 and there are 20 food trucks in operation.
We extended the Safe Space project, a joint initiative between the City, NSW Government, The Salvation Army and Thomas Kelly Youth Foundation to help reduce late night violence.
And our Sydney New Years' Eve and Chinese New Year once again showed the world that Sydney stages celebrations like no other city. Our Chinese New Year Festival next year will expand across the city centre.
Our program of free City Talks this year included former European Commissioner for Climate Action, Connie Hedegaard, and world-renowned Parisian architect and light rail expert, Thomas Richez.
Our economic development team is continuously looking to new opportunities and challenges.
Having focussed on retail, working closely with our Retail Advisory Panel, tourism and visitor accommodation, we are now turning to tech start-ups, international education, and further supporting our village businesses in key precincts such as Kings Cross, Darlinghurst, Redfern, Glebe and Pyrmont.
We've strengthened our relationship with China and host numerous international delegations keen to learn how we do things. Sustainable Sydney 2030 has been used by other cities in developing their own plans, including Wuhan, a city of over 11 million people.
In paris I joined 1000 city delegates including mayors from major cities around the world to show what cities have already done, are currently doing, and have the potential to do, to reduce emissions.
For the first time the COP included a focus on the work being undertaken by cities to tackle climate change.
I attended nine high profile events and spoke at six of them about the City of Sydney's determination to play our part.
Last week I welcomed the government's decision to leave the City of Sydney's boundaries unchanged.
This decision means we can get on with the job of working with the state and federal governments on the big projects that will keep Sydney's economy booming and get our public transport moving again.
I'd like to thank our City staff under the leadership of Monica Barone who do such a fantastic job across the whole range of our activities.
I hope that 2016 is a great year for our city and communities.
The unexpected death of my exception Deputy Lord Mayor Robyn Kemmis just after Christmas is a great personal loss, and a great loss for our community and Counil. We are grateful to have known and worked with Robyn, and a memorial will be held for her later in February at Town Hall. I will let you know of details nearer the date.