Congratulations to Sarah Boese (pictured) on her stunning mural, ‘Pandora’s Box’ unveiled outside of the Box Factory on December 1.
Welcome to the latest edition of my e-Newsletter. On Tuesday night, at our last meeting of Council for the year, we dealt with a range of issues including protection of the Park Lands, divestment from fossil fuels and the use of the old Le Cornu site. Key discussions and outcomes are summarised below:
Board and Committee appointments and Council Governance
At the meeting Council made the following Board and Committee appointments:
- Central Market Authority: Cllr Houssam Abiad
- Rundle Mall Management Authority: Cllr Franz Knoll
- Festival Centre Board: Lord Mayor Verschoor, Cllrs Khera and Simms (Minister will choose one name)
- Adelaide Parklands Authority: Cllrs Moran, Martin, Donovan and Simms (with Lord Mayor presiding)
- Capital City Committee: Lord Mayor, Cllrs Abiad, Hyde and Donovan (proxy)
- Reconciliation Committee: Cllrs Donovan, Knoll and Simms
- Council Audit Committee: Cllr Martin
A range of other Boards and Committee appointments will be made in the New Year.
Council also resolved to return to a Committee Structure which will meet fortnightly, between Council meetings.
Divestment from Fossil Fuels
In April 2015 during my first term on Council I proposed that Council investigate divesting from fossil fuels. This was pursued again by Councillor Phil Martin in August of this year and Council resolved to prepare another report on the impact of giving preference to banks and other financial agencies which do not invest in the fossil fuel industry. This would only apply where there is a competitive rate of return and in compliance with Council’s treasury policy.
Administration researched the matter and recommended that divestment be adopted as part of a revision to the Treasury Policy presented to Tuesday night’s meeting.
Given there would be no financial disadvantage to the City of Adelaide by adopting this policy, I was optimistic that Council would finally divest from fossil fuels. I moved that the revised Treasury Policy be adopted (seconded Councillor Martin). Unfortunately, Councillor Khera moved to amend the motion so that the Treasury Policy be adopted with divestment from fossil fuels omitted. His motion was seconded by Councillor Houssam Abiad. Councillors Franz Knoll, Simon Hou, Mary Couros, Arman Abrahimzadeh and Alexander Hyde supported the amendment and hence defeated the motion to divest from fossil fuels.
I thank Councillors Martin, Moran and Donovan for their support of divestment. Indaily have published a useful summary of the debate here.
This outcome is very disappointing and represents a missed opportunity for Council. By backing Administration’s recommendation, Adelaide could have joined 33 other Councils across the country (including Melbourne, Freemantle and Hobart) in divesting from fossil fuels and become the first Council in SA to take this stance. Despite this setback, I will continue to pursue this matter and look for opportunities for Council to lead the way in the area of environmental responsibility.
Adelaide Oval Hotel
Cllr Anne Moran moved that “Council oppose the Adelaide Oval Stadium Management Authority Plan to build a hotel on the Park Lands and asks the Lord Mayor to immediately write to the Premier and Members of State Cabinet setting out Council’s position on the development while also foreshadowing the inclusion of the matter on the agenda of the next meeting of the Capital City Committee.” I seconded the motion.
As stated at the meeting, I consider the plan to be “commercialisation of our public space, bank rolled by the State Government.” The Advertiser provided a useful summary of the debate which can be accessed here. The motion was carried unanimously and it is encouraging that Council has taken such a strong position.
88 O’Connell Street (the former Le Cornu site)
Cllr Couros moved two motions in relation to the use of 88 O’Connell Street in North Adelaide (the former Le Cornu site). The first related to looking at ways to open up car parking at 88 O’Connell Street and the second was a proposal “for administration to prepare a report on how a temporary activation, similar to a box part concept, could be established… to attract complementary and non-competing operators to North Adelaide.”
I asked administration about the kinds of businesses that would be considered “non-competing” given the existing offering on O’Connell Street (retail, coffee shops, wine bars and restaurants). I am also concerned about the potential of any temporary activation to delay development of the site. I decided not to support the motion on that basis but will await the additional information provided in the future report with interest.
I did not support the motion in relation to car parking as I understand residents have some concerns about the impact of this.
Improved Waste Management
Cllr Donovan moved that administration “prepare a report reviewing waste management services provided by Council, prepares a waste management policy for Council which provides options for waste services (including organics) for city businesses (the policy would also address applicable fee for service models, including reducing fees for strata groups).”
I supported the motion and look forward to seeing Councils’ report. There are lots of opportunities to improve waste management in the city (including recycling!) and I congratulate Cllr Donovan for putting this on the agenda. The motion was passed unanimously.
City of Adelaide Golf Links
Councillor Martin proposed that Council “publicly release an extract of the Golf Course Master Plan… which is currently the subject of a confidentiality order.” Given community concern about the future of the Park Lands, I supported Councillor Martin’s motion so that the community can view the draft plans. More background on Cllr Martin’s proposal is provided in this Advertiser story: Unfortunately the motion was defeated on the Council floor.
Still waiting for a Skate Park?
Adelaide’s skating community is still waiting for a permanent skate park and this starting to look a lot like ‘waiting for godo!’… I asked Administration to provide an update on efforts to secure State Government funding for a permanent site.
Administration advised that a draft City Skate Strategy is currently being finalised to present to the Parklands Authority and Council in March/April next year. Once a site is selected, Council will have further discussions with the State Government about funding and design and construction will be sought for 2019/2020. I will continue to pursue this issue in the New Year.
Edmund Wright House
Like many residents and ratepayers I was saddened to see that the State Government has decided to sell the historic Edmund Wright House on King William Street. A city ratepayer recently contacted me about littering and graffiti on the building.
I asked Administration to provide an update on the current status of the ‘for sale’ process and whether they had advocated for the government to put in place a maintenance program to prevent further damage.
Administration advised that tender for the property closed on 4 October and that no formal announcement has been made. Administration will engage with the relevant State Government agency and raise Council concerns about the presentation of the building.
Bikeway Network Implementation?
Cllr Donovan asked administration to provide an update on the progress of the Bikeway Network Implementation Plan as outlined in the Smart Move Action Plan. Administration advised that they are working their way through the Smart Move Interim Action Plan (2016-18) actions and the preparation of the Bikeways Network Implementation will be considered as part of the 2019-20 business plan and budget.
I share Cllr Donovan’s interest in this area and will continue to advocate for more bikeways in the city.
Crows on the Park Lands?
You may have seen media reports about the Crows seeking to move their Club House onto the Adelaide Park Lands. I do not believe that the Parklands should be privatised in this way. As I said to the Advertiser: “I’m sick to death of private enterprise trying to sink their teeth into our parklands.” At this stage, Council has received no formal proposal from the Crows.
It is clear that privitisation and commercialisation of our public space will be a key issue for this term of Council.
New Contact Details
My new Council phone and email have been set up. If I can assist you with a local issue, please do not hesitate to contact me on: R.Simms@adelaidecitycouncil.com.au or 0466 829 909.
From January, I will be based in Town Hall on Tuesdays. If you would like to arrange a time to meet please let me know!
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As this is my last communication for the year, I want to wish you and your family a safe and happy Christmas season. I look forward to working with you in 2019!
Please note, the views in this newsletter are my own and do not purport to be those of Adelaide City Council.