Sydney Parks Art + Architecture Exhibition

(7pm 26 April 2012, Boutwell Draper Gallery Redfern)

Thank you, and hello, everyone. I would like firstly to acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the 200 nationalities who make up our City.

As many of you here this evening will know, it is a high priority for us at the City that greening Sydney and creating open spaces, and we need to create spaces, that are not just functional but that are truly memorable, that can live up to the beauty of our harbour and natural foreshores.

In the years since my team was elected in 2004, we have worked to renew the city's natural and built environment.

Our separated cycleway network has given people an alternative transport choice, one that is being increasingly adopted by commuters as well as leisure cyclists.

And we've created a series of award-winning places that have set new standards for parks and open spaces. We've done this by calling on the expertise of our Design Advisory Panel to help us select the best possible teams of architects and landscape architects to devise new parks and re-imagine existing ones.

Those of you who - like Peter and I - are long-term residents of Redfern will know what an impact the transformation of Redfern Park and Oval, along with our streetscape work, has had in this area.

There are many others across the LGA, spaces such as Paddington Reservoir Gardens, the Glebe foreshore, Pirrama Park, Sydney Park, and Prince Alfred Park just down the road here.

There are also beautifully designed public amenities such as the Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre and the Surry Hills Library and Community Centre, as well as numerous playgrounds, pocket parks and rain gardens and an extensive tree-planting program which together are making the city a greener, more sustainable city and a place which offers its people a greater chance for healthy and connected community living.

They are wonderful assets for our community now, and a tremendous legacy for the future.

They've been made possible by the talents and the work of the design professions.

Your skills and insights are central to our vision for Sydney, and project by project, you are helping us make the transformative changes the city deserves. They are also the changes we need to make to make the city sustainable into this 21st century.

We are lucky, as a city, to have the wealth of creativity that is here to help us articulate and achieve our vision for this wonderful place.

It continues to be a slow to convince other levels of government of what we could achieve together - by returning George Street to people, for example. But with your help I believe we will get there in the end.

As this exhibition so convincingly shows, there is no shortage of ideas out there. I congratulate Boutwell Draper and everyone who has taken part on a stimulating and thought-provoking exhibition.

I'm pleased to formally open "The Greening of Sydney".