Vale, Robyn Kemmis

It is with deep sadness I inform you of the untimely death of Robyn Kemmis, who passed away this weekend while staying with family in Queensland.This is an enormous loss for the City of Sydney and our communities. Robyn was a dedicated and skilled elected representative, a tremendously effective and committed councillor who earned the respect and love of our residential, business and education communities.As Councillor, Deputy Lord Mayor and Committee Chair, Robyn has beena major contributor to the work of the Independent Team since we were first elected in 2004 to lead the City of Sydney. Robyn effectively engaged all our communities in local government decisions that affected their lives, with a particular interest in supporting local village economies and programs for young people. She has been a long-standing advocate for social justice and equal opportunity, especially for women's rights and for all our social housing communities, especially in Glebe and Millers Point. Robyn was a Glebe resident for over 35 years and a truly active member of the local community. She was passionate about preserving the area's heritage, character and community. In 2002, Robyn was awarded an honorary doctorate by UTS in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the university's mission. In 2003, she was awarded a Centenary Medal for service to Australian society in business leadership. On a personal level, I will miss Robyn's friendship, her warmth and humour, her insight and extraordinary persistence to get the best for all our communities. My condolences go to Robyn's partner Lynne, her family and friends, and colleagues who will all be as devastated as I am by this loss.

Celebrating a Fantastic 2015

It's been another year of action for our CBD and our villages and all our communities!ANOTHER YEAR OF ACTIONSince 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. Chelsea Street Playground 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. Sydney Park Wetlands 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. Meeting Prime Minister Turnbull 2015 YEAR OF THE CITY2015 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.GREEN SQUAREOur 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. Green Square Aquatic Centre 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 schools—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. Green Square Trunk Drain 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 – 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 Ashmore—another former industrial site undergoing residential renewal.STATE GOVERNMENT SUBMISSIONSAt 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. Liverpool Street TRANSPORT AND STREET UPGRADESThe 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 – 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 – 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 – 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 City Talk on Housing Affordability 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.GRANTSIn 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 café in Glebe so it could continue providing a community meeting space for social housing residents.CREATIVE SYDNEYWe 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 –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. Art & About The Hayes Theatre Company had a second very successful year at our Greenknowe Avenue theatre; as did the Darlinghurst Theatre Company at Eternity Playhouse—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 – YININMADYEMI Thou didst let fall.Our Eora Journey public art project continues with a call out in September to indigenous artists for a major public artwork to honour the Eora.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.ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENTOur 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.COP 21In 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.CITY IS FIT FOR THE FUTURELast 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.

COP21: The Paris Climate Summit

For the first time, this year's UN climate talks have forged a global agreement to curb dangerous carbon emissions and hold global warming below 1.5C.As Al Gore said in Paris, paraphrasing economist Kenneth Rogoff, "Things take longer than you think they should, but then they happen faster than you thought they could."On November 29, I joined many of you out on the streets for the People's Climate March, alongside the more than 45,000 Sydneysiders who marched down Macquarie Street. It was an incredible show of support around the world - it lifted my spirits, and those of many others, as we left Australia bound for Paris - and helped set the scene for the subsequent success of the Paris talks.On Sunday, I was delighted to get the news that nearly 200 countries had signed the genuinely historic agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions.My focus in Paris was reporting our practical experience in Sydney, that you can set and deliver on ambitious targets while overseeing a thriving local economy, and advocating for the benefits of action to national leaders."It's hard to overestimate the importance of cities in tackling climate change" - former President of Mexico, Felipe Calderon, said at the talks.I was in Paris for five days and attended nine high profile events and spoke at six of them alongside the Mayors of Paris, London, Rio De Janeiro, New Orleans, Stockholm, Rotterdam, Madrid, Wuhan, Vancouver and many other global cities, Morocco's Minister for Energy, the Governor of California and senior figures from the World Bank, World Economic Fund, the United Nations, 100 Resilient Cities, C40 Cities, the World Green Building Council, and a range of other organisations.At each event, I reported on the City's climate targets, progress and initiatives - especially our green infrastructure plans. And the response was incredibly positive, with international media particularly interested in our experience.Analysis of the media coverage found more than 270 items across a range of media outlets, including The Economist, The Australian Financial Review, The Sydney Morning Herald, Bloomberg TV, CNN, SBS World News, Nature, The Huffington Post, Le Monde and Le Figaro, reaching more than one million people.It was interesting to see the changed context for cities picked up in the media coverage. The Vancouver-based Georgia Straight newspaper wrote, "Now the focus is less on what national governments should strive to achieve and more on what cities and markets are actually doing. These messages were reinforced by a diverse range of people from Sydney mayor Clover Moore to American rap artist Akon, who is working to bring more and better lighting to Africa."As Herald journalist Peter Hannam reported, I was proud to have a positive story to tell in Paris - that the City's operations are already carbon neutral and deep emissions cuts are underway as we get on with taking action.

Breakthrough climate deal in Paris

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the strong agreement forged overnight in Paris was truly historic."This is a breakthrough. For the first time, global leaders have joined together in a bid to limit global warming to 1.5°C and strike a course to a safer climate," the Lord Mayor said."This historic global deal reflects strong action already underway at the local level in cities like Sydney. Our experience shows you can set and deliver on ambitious targets, while overseeing a thriving city economy.""It's now time for our federal government to put its commitments into practice and work with the cities, states, communities and businesses that are getting on with the job - or at least get out of the way.""The biggest challenge remains moving fast enough so that emissions have peaked by the time the agreement comes into force in 2020.""We've developed a master plan to power the City of Sydney with 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030. Using wind and solar for electricity and harnessing waste for a city-wide renewable heating and cooling system, Sydney can become a 100 per cent renewable city."Research by C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group and Stockholm Environment Institute showed one third of the remaining 'safe' carbon budget will be determined by decisions made in cities like Sydney."In Sydney, we're getting on with the job of protecting against these dangerous climate threats for our community. We have the most ambitious target of any Australian government - to cut emissions 70 per cent by 2030, on 2006 levels - and we're well on track.""We're already seeing the positive effects of our commitment to tackling climate change, and through this new agreement will continue to see another wave of innovation and investment.""This agreement is a credit to the thousands of negotiators, researchers and campaigners, city, state and national leaders, businesses and advocates who fought for a deal in Paris, and for the hundreds of thousands who marched for action on climate change."MEDIA: Please contact Matt Levinson on (+61) 0499 319 385 for editors on the City's sustainability achievements: Major retrofit of 45 of the City's major buildings complete. The retrofit has cut the City's electricity use by about 6.6 million kilowatt hours (kWh) a year - enough to supply about 1000 households annually - and saved an estimated $1.1 million a year in power bills; Solar photovoltaic (PV) installed on major buildings such as Redfern Oval Grandstand, Sydney Park pavilion and Paddington Town Hall. The panels are expected to reduce the City's annual carbon pollution by around 2,073 tonnes, about five per cent of the City's total electricity use; 6,450 lights replaced with LEDs across the City's streets and parks, saving nearly $800,000 a year in electricity bills and maintenance a year and reducing carbon emissions by nearly 40 per cent; Better Buildings Partnership members, including owners of more than half the city's commercial property, supported to reduce their emissions by 145,000 tonnes, or 45 per cent, saving $30 million in the last year alone; Nearly 600 new businesses recruited to the Smart Green Business Program. This year members saved 15,000 tonnes carbon emissions; Increased businesses participating in the CitySwitch Green Office program, which covers nearly three million square metres office floor space across the city; and; The city's largest stormwater harvesting system installed at Sydney Park. The $10.5 million project will captures and cleans up to around 850 million litres stormwater a year, providing a sustainable water supply for the parks' future.

Make a submission on the M5 St Peters Interchange

The Government has released the Environmental Impact Statement for the New M5 St Peters Interchange and it's much worse than we thought. Click to see impact on affected areas. Thousands of additional vehicles will pour out of the Interchange into surrounding suburbs like Green Square, Alexandria, Erskineville, Ashmore and Redfern that are already heavily congested. Euston Road and Campbell Road will become six lane highways, with traffic on Euston Road increasing from 5,000 to 50,000 vehicles a day.The Interchange will surround our beloved Sydney Park with high-volume multi-lane roads, worsen air quality and threaten King Street.The impacts will spread throughout the city and the project will waste more than $5 billion that could be spent on public transport. The only thing that can stop this is community opposition.We have until 29 January 2016 to get as many submissions as possible into the Government highlighting the many flaws in this project and letting them know that the community opposes WestConnex.But please also urge your family, friends and workmates to act too!Make a submission now to the NSW Department of Planning opposing the WestConnex New M5 St Peters Interchange.1. Click here to do so online: Submit in writing to:The Director of Infrastructure ProjectsPlanning ServicesDepartment of Planningand EnvironmentApplication number SSI 6788GPO Box 39Sydney NSW 2001Click here to download a flyer to share this information with your friends and family.

Paris Climate Summit

There is nothing more important than getting a strong agreement on climate in Paris at the end of the month - and that's why I'm going to be there.Some Councillors at today's City of Sydney Environment Committee meeting, which endorsed my attendance at the Paris climate conference (COP21), raised questions about its usefulness and of my attendance at it. After the tragic events in Paris over the weekend, our decision to attend is more real than ever.So I wanted to share with you why I think COP21 and Sydney's participation in it are important. There is no greater threat to the long-term future of Sydney than global warming. Cities have a crucial role to play in addressing global warming - over half the world's population live in cities (even more in Australia) despite covering just 2% of the Earth's surface, and cities generate 75-80% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. COP21 will give heightened prominence to sub-national actors, like cities, in the negotiations. Promoting the action already taken by cities is a key strategy being used to influence the national leaders involved in the conference. It is important that Sydney stands alongside other cities - including Hong Kong, London, Madrid, Milan, Philadelphia, Portland, Rio de Janeiro, Rotterdam, Seoul, Shenzhen, Stockholm, Toronto and Vancouver - our work shows that more ambitious targets are possible and compatible with strong economic growth. I've been invited to speak about our work in Sydney by a number of organisations including the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, 100 Resilient Cities and the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives. This a significant opportunity to promote the City's successes in taking action against climate change and to reinforce Sydney's status as Australia's global city. With temperature records around the world breaking ever more frequently, we need to stop increasing the levels of carbon in the atmosphere that are driving climate change. I am determined that the City of Sydney will continue to take serious action to reduce our contribution to climate change, and to advocate on the domestic and international stage for strong targets. The day before I fly out to Paris, I'll be at the People's Climate March Australia - 29 November at 1pm in the Domain - join me and send a message to Prime Minister Turnbull and the Australian delegation that we need far stronger emissions reduction targets in Paris.

Cities Matter

Australia's capital cities account for 64 per cent of the nation's GDP, house over two-thirds of Australia's workforce, have supplied 1.5 million people with new jobs in the past decade, educate 80 per cent of all tertiary students in the country and are forecast to house another 10 million Australians by 2056 - 72 per cent of all future population growth.Get it right for our capital cities and you'll get it right for the nation.Unfortunately other levels of government have been slow to recognise the growing importance of Australian cities and the previous Federal Government's Major Cities Unit was shamefully abolished by the Abbott Government.But finally, we have a Prime Minister who understands what can be achieved when cities are made national priorities and who supports innovative industries and public transport.When I became Lord Mayor, I wanted a plan that could continue no matter who was in Town Hall, Macquarie St or Canberra. So we undertook the largest ever community consultation in the City's history. Sustainable Sydney 2030 was the result and is the cornerstone of everything we do.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.We actively encourage design excellence in private development and our own public projects. We have an innovative design excellence program that requires a competitive design process for all major buildings—a world first.Through this program over 100 projects have been awarded bonus floor space for design excellence, and a number have been recognised internationally. In the last ten years, our public infrastructure projects have won over 85 national and international awards.It's all contributed to Sydney's growing reputation and international profile for city design and liveability.And while there are inevitably dissenters, our local government area is now one of the State's fastest-growing residential areas and in the five years leading up to 2011, 2,000 new businesses opened and more than 50,000 new jobs were created - most located in our village areas.Sydney city is undergoing a huge period of accelerated growth and investment. Based on current trends, $30 billion to $40 billion will be invested in development across our local government area over the next decade. The value of developments the City is assessing has tripled in the last few years - last year we approved a record $3.9 billion worth of residential, commercial and hotel developments.This week, we've heard some argue that building heights are holding our city back - they aren't. While I think there's room for higher limits in some areas, and City staff are investigating options for increasing heights where they don't compromise the ground level experience of the city, contemporary trends suggest very tall slender towers are becoming outdated for commercial workspaces and record levels of investment show there's strong interest in the current market.Where we come unstuck is congestion - it already costs our economy $5 billion a year and by 2020 it will soar to $8 billion.After 16 frustrating years of inaction on transport by the previous NSW Government, the City did our own research with the world's best minds in transport and city design to develop a transport policy.The answer is not more roads - experience across the world is that new roads only lead to more congestion. When workers from Western Sydney travel to the city centre, about 90 per cent use public transport. They need vastly improved public transport networks, not new toll roads, which with end-of-trip parking factored in, could cost up to $240 a week per commuter.Successful global cities are environmentally sustainable, guided by the principles of design excellence with efficient transport options so people can move around easily, they are actively serviced with community infrastructure, parks and green spaces with a rich variety of choices and activities, offer a lively social and cultural life and a safe and diverse night-time culture.As custodians we not only need to be providing floor space for business, hotels for visitors and homes for our residents, we also have a responsibility to create places that our community can connect and be offered diversity of experiences.This is because places that are good for people to live are also good places to work and do business.The City of Sydney has a strong track record in delivering high-quality development that supports our economy while creating lasting benefits for our community, but we can't do it alone.In our three tiered system of governance each level of government has a role to play. It's time for a new era of co-operation and co-ordination between City, State and Federal Governments to ensure Australia becomes more competitive, innovative and productive.

100 Resilient Cities Summit

I met with Mayors in the 100 Resilient Cities network on 1-4 October in Bellagio Italy to explore ways our cities can better respond to acute shocks like earthquakes and severe storms, as well as chronic stresses, such as ageing transport infrastructure and declining housing affordability.Funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, 100 Resilient Cities is creating a global network of cities using the framework of "resilience" to build and share solutions. The network currently has 67 member cities that are home to over 130 million people. It will grow to 100 member cities this year.Sydney joined the network in December 2014 and is working with other local councils and the state government on a resilience strategy for our metropolitan area.Using funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, the project focuses on urban resilience—"the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses, and systems within a city to survive, adapt, and grow no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience."The 100 Resilient Cities Leaders' Summit was an opportunity for Mayors to share experience and knowledge, and build connections so that we can continue to cooperate on innovative solutions.A common concern was homelessness and housing affordability, a growing problem for Sydney. Diverse housing and public transport are vital, especially for essential low-paid city workers forced into outlying suburbs. A response in many cities is to require minimum levels of affordable housing in new developments.Cities such as Amman (Jordan), Athens (Greece) and Thessaloniki (Greece) face an acute humanitarian and political crisis due to waves of refugees and growing conflict, such as neo-nazi riots. I was personally struck by Amman's approach to treat refugees "as guests", despite 1.6 million refugees arriving in Jordan since 2010.And cities that experienced acute shocks—such as Christchurch's earthquake and Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans—are showing how to build long-term resilience through practical solutions that meet multiple needs, such as flooding mitigation that also provides new parks and energy infrastructure that reduces greenhouse gas emissions.While travelling I took the opportunity to stop over in other cities to seek out new ideas for Sydney. I spend a day in Milan in transit to Bellagio and a day in Dubai on my return to Sydney.Like Sydney, Milan is Italy's economic engine room. I was struck by its walkable city centre, with light rail, underground metro and many stone-paved pedestrian-only precincts. Its streets were full of people enjoying shopping and outdoor dining. Bike riders and pedestrians shared the footpaths and public spaces without conflict.In 2012 Milan introduced road pricing to manage congestion, with income invested in public transport, walking, cycling and policies to reduce air pollution. In the first year, the program provided over €13 million to increase metro and surface public transport services, and to expand the BikeMi bike hire scheme.

More Concerns about WestConnex

Residents have contacted me raising serious concerns about work at the Alexandria landfill site where the WestConnex spaghetti junction is proposed to be constructed.Their concerns relate to the removal of asbestos, the route being used by trucks to access the site, and whether work is outside the scope of existing approvals.I have asked the NSW Environment Minister Mark Speakman to stop work on the site until the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and WestConnex Delivery Authority (WDA) host a public meeting to provide information and answer residents' questions.If you share the concern, contact Minister Speakman and let him know the community needs a public meeting on this issue:Environment Minister, the Hon Mark Speakman MP Email: Phone: (02) 8574 6390The NSW Government still hasn't provided detailed traffic information to explain how roads around St Peters in Erskineville, Alexandria, Green Square and Newtown can handle the number of vehicles that will use the planned interchange.Additional traffic will be funnelled onto streets where there is already serious congestion, including Green Square where there will be 61,000 residents and 22,000 workers by 2030.WestConnex will worsen traffic congestion and won't improve access to CBD jobs as the government claims. Eighty-nine percent of Western Sydney workers commute to Central Sydney by public transport.There is still no business case, traffic modelling or comprehensive environmental impact statements for this $15 billion white elephant.The public deserves a detailed explanation about why this massive project is needed and how the costs can be justified.

Do the Shooters call the shots in Sydney?

Today, it's been reported the Shooters Party wants the City of Sydney carved up to create a tiny CBD Council.It's hard to see why a couple of elephant shooting cranks who attracted less than half a per cent of the city vote would have any say in what happens with the global city. Until you see their Facebook page (now deleted), where they called me, "one of the most gun-hating politicians anywhere in Australia."But the Shooters have forced through shooting in national parks and the legislation that gave business two votes and residents just one - so this latest harebrained scheme has to be taken seriously.The plan to divide the City of Sydney shows how out of touch the Shooters and Fishers are - while they want to take the city back to the '70s and '80s we're planning for the future. The city is currently undergoing a huge period of accelerated growth and investment. Based on current trends, $30 to $40 billion will be invested in development in our local government area over the next decade.Contact the Premier, and the Local Government Minister, and let them know that you want the boundaries of the City of Sydney to remain as is. NSW Premier Mike Baird MP Email: or via this form: Phone: 02 9976 2773 Twitter: @mikebairdMP Facebook: Minister for Local Government Paul Toole MP Email: Phone: 02 8574 7000 Twitter: @PaulTooleMP Facebook: The Sydney Chamber of Commerce has come out strongly against this proposal, describing it as "politics at its worst."It's worth reading the comments from Executive Director of the Sydney Business Chamber, Patricia Forsythe, in full because they really cut to the heart of the issue: The proposed legislation should be rejected by the NSW Government as it has nothing to do with improving the City of Sydney and everything to do with the agenda the Shooters first revealed with their dodgy two votes for business legislation last year. The argument the Shooters are running, that reduced boundaries would encourage investment by business in the development of the CBD, ignores the fact that the private sector is showing confidence in the future of the city with billions of dollars' worth of investment including new hotels, commercial and residential buildings already approved or at application stage for the CBD. The Sydney Business Chamber, and other business groups, advocate for fewer local councils across the Greater Sydney Region, so it would be illogical to propose or support, at the same time, shrinking the boundaries of the CBD. The City of Sydney's submission to the NSW Government's Fit for the Future Inquiry, revealed a council that is providing services for business, big and small, and demonstrated its ability to manage major developments such as Green Square. If it was broken we would argue for change, but the City of Sydney staff work closely with key business groups on projects that are in the interest of business. It was regrettable that the NSW Government backed the specific changes to the business vote for the city, introduced by the Shooters, instead of putting up their own proposal and we would urge the Government to consult with business on this proposal. Excising parts of the city and merging them with adjoining councils ignores the reality that in future years parts of the city that are predominantly residential will represent new commercial centres to support the CBD. PricewaterhouseCoopers said the City of Sydney is a 'benchmark against which other councils could be compared.' The NSW Government's own Treasury Corporation (T-Corp) rates the City's finances as 'strong' with a 'positive outlook' - the only NSW council to receive this rating. There's just no sensible economic reasoning or business case for these massively disruptive proposals.In 2013-2014, the City oversaw $3.95 billion of development, over four times more than the nearest council. Last year we determined 2,677 development applications and their modifications and have consistently been in the top 10 for development application assessment times while processing the highest value and some of the highest numbers of complex applications.The last time the Liberals shrunk the city council boundaries, the council almost ended up bankrupt. Why risk that happening again when the City's booming? There's just no sensible economic reasoning or business case for these massively disruptive proposals.If the Premier wants to work out what's best for the city, he should ask the people who live and work here - unlike the Shooters' Borsak, we did, and 80% of the City's residents and 70% of businesses said they like the City of Sydney the way it is.

Art from the Heart of the Cross

Last week I was pleased to launch the Sydney Medically Supervised Injecting Centre's Art from the Heart of the Cross exhibition. The project aims to provide a safe and positive avenue for self-expression to those who use the Centre's services.As local member for Bligh I shared the community's serious concerns about the number of young people injecting on the street and dying of overdoses in back lanes.In 1997, following the Police Royal Commission, I was a member of the NSW Parliament's Joint Select Committee into Injecting Rooms. The Committee took compelling evidence from families whose children had died from overdosing, and information on effective action in other countries.While the Majority Committee Report recommended the trial of injecting rooms not proceed, together with crossbenchers Ian Cohen, Ann Symonds and John Mills I compiled a minority report calling for a scientifically rigorous trial of safe injecting rooms as part of an integrated public health and safety approach.Following a harrowing front page Sun Herald photo of a young boy shooting up in Caroline Lane, Redfern, Premier Bob Carr committed to a Drug Summit if Labor won the 1999 election.The Summit brought together MPs, members of the legal and medical professions, church and community groups. My Motion to establish a supervised injecting centre received majority support.Since the Centre's opening, residents and business operators in Kings Cross no longer see people slumped in doorways, streets and parks. St Vincent's sees much fewer overdose victims and most importantly, many lives have been saved.It's an incredibly valuable service. Support it by going to Art from the Heart of the Cross, which runs until 18 September:

Sydney Park Wetlands to be Renamed

We're giving the four recently-upgraded Sydney Park wetlands new names that commemorate the area's Aboriginal history.The new names represent species of bats, birds, lizards and grasshoppers in different Aboriginal languages and are an important way to promote awareness of local Aboriginal culture.City historians researched Sydney Park and considered names of Aboriginal origin that reflect the biodiversity of the park and its wetlands. The City also worked closely with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Panel and the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council to identify appropriate names.These names will be open for public feedback later this month before the City takes the results to the Geographical Names Board of NSW for consideration. Wirrambi Wetland - meaning 'bat', relates to the newly-created habitat for microbats at the park. Guwali Wetland - meaning 'shag' or 'cormorant', recognises the waterbirds that were part of the local pre-industrial landscape; Bunmarra Wetland - meaning 'lizard', refers to the growing blue-tongue lizard population in the park. Gilbanung Wetland - meaning 'grasshoper', is an insect prevalent in the park. Since 2004, we have invested over $23 million in transforming a derelict former brick-making site and rubbish tip into a much loved, attractive regional park.The wetlands create a haven for native frogs and birds and encourage bush regeneration. We have just completed an $11.3 million storm harvesting project with a picturesque series of water cascades, stepping stones and informal paths to enjoy the water and wildlife.

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