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Advisory Board Meeting Minutes
Inaugural Advisory Board Meeting - 8 November 2002
Councillor Nick Lalich - Mayor of Fairfield
Clr. Lalich welcomed everyone to Fairfield City Council. He encouraged people to visit the award-winning Clear Paddock Creek environmental improvement project. He wished the Great Kai'mia Project every success and hoped it would lead to many fruitful partnerships by bringing people and government together. A big thank you to the Mayor and staff of Fairfield City Council for hosting the first meeting of the Great Kai'Mia Way Project Advisory Board, on Friday 8th, November 2002. The event was well attended by both government and non-government organisations, including the Gandangara Aboriginal Land Council and two peak user groups:- The Confederation of Bushwalking Clubs NSW and Bicycle NSW.
Introduction to the Project
Dr. Miriam Verbeek - Chair, Sutherland Shire Environment Centre
Dr Verbeek thanked Cr Lalich and thanked people for agreeing to join the Advisory Board.
SSEC's aims to enhance management and understanding of the environment in Sutherland Shire and its bioregion; it is an independent non-government organisation funded through donations, fundraising, and project-specific grants.
It is coordinating a 12 months feasibility study to consider all aspects of two components of the Way - Georges and Woronora Trails. The third section - Botany Bay Trail - has been the subject of a pre-feasibility study, and work will continue when funding becomes available. SSEC is working in partnership with Georges River Environmental Alliance (GREA).
Why trails? Sensitively located routes, linking bush and urban areas, provide a valuable opportunity for people to explore their natural and cultural heritage, simply by indulging their desire for recreation. People are using the bush anyway. By being pro-active and locating trails where they will do least damage, we hope to reduce the harm to the bush by indiscriminate access.
Four concurrent themes of the project:
The functions of the advisory board are to:
- Research and document the natural and cultural features (including existing and planned tracks and trails) of the river valleys to locate a suitable route or routes.
- Ensure high level of community (stakeholders) involvement in route planning and research developing partnerships for further involvement in implementation stage.
- Create opportunities to use the project to increase sustainable use of the environment and care of cultural heritage.
- Set up a funding strategy for the implementation of the trails network.
- Provide advice about management of the project.
- Help integrate the efforts straddling jurisdictions.
- Avoid duplication of effort.
- Ensure that we are all working together to achieve environmental and social goals.
The Georges River Foreshores Improvement Program
Mr Symington explained that the Great Kai'mia Way Project had received funding under the GRFIP scheme. This PlanningNSW initiative had supported several environmental projects which had led to a distinct improvement in the health of the Georges River. The GRFIP faces an uncertain future with no grants planned for 2003 - 2004. He urged all stakeholders to actively support the next round of funding for GRFIP by contacting their local MP.
The Great Kai'mia Way Vision
Dr. Peter Tralaggan - Georges River Environmental Alliance
Dr. Tralaggan spoke passionately for the need for a long term vision to protect remaining bushland of the Georges River catchment, on Sydneys urban fringe, from development.
He explained how coordinating the tracks and trails system has a vital role to play in achieving this, by saving a riparian corridor for public amenity, which could be adopted by statutory planning authorities.
Explore the Woronora Way Project Update
Nick Benson - Project Co-ordinator
Nick had begun "ground truthing", i.e. researching existing and potential track infrastructure, loop tracks and links to settlements, public transport and amenities.
Issues: concerns of individual property owners, avoiding sensitive wildlife habitats, where bicycle access was appropriate, antisocial behavior.
The study area - 20km long by 2km wide - allows for in depth analysis, fully inclusive of community contributions.
The Georges River Way Project
Bob Symington - Project Co-ordinator
Bob is forming four project working groups, based on local authority boundaries, which will include relevant stakeholders:
He has toured the river system by boat to look at existing foreshore amenity projects, as well as some of the barriers to movement created by foreshore residential development.
- WG1 lower reach (north) Cantebury, Kogarah, Hurstville and Rockdale
- WG2 middle reach Bankstown, Fairfield, Holroyd and Liverpool
- WG3 upper reach Cambelltown and Wollondilly
- WG4 lower reach (south) & headwaters Sutherland and Wollongong
Advisory Board Members
It was asked if Gandangara LALC had been included as one of the stakeholders. Yes, they had been invited to join the project from the start, through the Explore-the-Woronora Steering Committee, and that it was encouraging to see them today.
Important to explain the Dreaming Path along the trail, interpret different Tribal areas along the way.
Interpretation signs should document killings and displacement of Aboriginal people by European settlers.
It was pointed out that Gandangara own Barden and Mill Creeks and had land claims lodged for most of the Woronora Valley.
Defence had not owned the Sandy Point land since 1985 when it was handed over to Dept. of Finance and Administration under the management of Price Waterhouse Coopers.
Various people asked if the Trail had potential for cycleways. The feasibility study will consider opportunities for new and linking existing cycleways and multi-access pathways.
Doubts were expressed that 80% of the Georges River Trail already exists. Just 5% estimated in Campbelltown area, better provision on Defence land to the east of the Georges.
There was a problem with illegal access, as Defence owned down to the river itself. In future Defence is to take steps to prosecute people who wander onto its land.
Maddens Creek is not in a Sydney Catchment Authority proposed catchment.
We are not advocating a route march. Rather an "experience" of the River as a whole. Bits on foot, others by boat perhaps, opportunities for cycling where appropriate. More marketable for tourism and education.
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2nd Advisory Board Meeting - 21 Feburary 2003
Welcome and Introduction
Dr. Miriam Verbeek - Chair, Sutherland Shire Environment Centre
Benefits of the study:
- Future Board role post Feasibility Study will depend upon funding.
- Project is acting as facilitator/ community input ensured/ funding role.
- Initiating educational & recreational projects.
- Project also ground truthing/ mapping access routes & missing links & land ownership.
- Report will be submitted to PNSW - Georges River Foreshores Improvement Program (GRFIP) Program in August/September.
- Final report can be used to guide foreshore developments.
- Sustainable access improvements/ community building/ increased recreational opportunities/ raised environmental awareness.
- Land ownership & insurance - owners maintain responsibility/ stakeholders agreements required before trail goes through.
- Project has developed OHS guidelines for field work.
- Board meetings provide good forum for reporting back to stakeholders & can generate innovative solutions.
- Project logo introduced
Nick Benson - Project Co-ordinator
This presentation focuses on the following:
Primary and Secondary Contact Recreation
- Research component of the project - ground truthing.
- The Contributions of individuals and groups within the community.
- Liaison with government at all levels.
- Developing the common Great Kai'mia Way vision through track signage, access control infrastructure, brochures.
- Education and Promotion.
- The main challenges to implementation.
We will be encouraging council to explore Urban Greenspace Grants as a route to track funding. National Heritage Trust Grants and Environmental Trust Grants are also possible funding sources. Efforts are being made to lobby local state MPs and Ministers - e.g. Alisson McGarrity (Menai) is a key supporter - to renew the GRFIP Program for 2003 - 2004 and beyond, to help implement the practical works for The Great Kai'mia Way.
- Experiencing the river: There are many ways to experience the special qualities of the Woronora River - some more unusual than most - an adventurous family attempting to lilo down the stretch between Heathcote Bridge and the Needles.
- Bushwalking: Bushwalking is the most common form of recreation in Sutherland Shire, according to the Sutherland Shire Open Space and Recreation Needs Survey in 1995. The public voted that the highest council spending priority should be the provision of walking tracks and boardwalks.
- Canoeing: A canoe trail along the river would link beaches and points of interest, many of which are inappropriate to link via a continuous land route.
- Cycling: Cycling is popular on the main fire trials in the valley, although in areas zoned as 7(b) Environmental Protection (Bushland) cycling is a prohibited activity. There is scope to identify a network on the quiet residential streets and to incorporate the new shared use track across the river suspended from the road bridge. A challenge is to allow cycles but not motorbikes at the main access control points along the track.
- Ground Truthing: So, how to determine which existing or potential track routes are suitable and appropriate to different user groups for exploring the Woronora? I have developed a "ground truth" checklist, which can be taken out on site to help collect information. The checklist has space for a sketch map. Further information on heritage and biodiversity for example can be added later, so that a comprehensive file is built up on the track network of the whole valley. Each track is given an ID, when the information is transferred to a trails database on computer.
- Community Building Exchange of ideas between reps of Gandangara LALC and West Menai Precinct Residents Association. We have helped facilitate cross community ties between local precinct groups who are interested in developing their own sections of trail, and between people from the Aboriginal community and their non-Aboriginal neighbours. A common theme is the protection of bushland and wildlife habitat for future generations to enjoy and appreciate.
- Bushcare Groups Maandowie Reserve Bushcare Group - secretary Geoff Broadhead. Part of detailed community consultation has involved liaising with Bushcare Groups in the valley, to verify the suitability of identifying tracks as part of the network. Addressing any concerns such as erosion and impacts on native bushland. Also seeking ways of future stewardship for tracks e.g. "Friends of the Woronora Way".
- Major Stakeholders/Landholders Example: Liaison with Sydney Water, NPWS and Sutherland Shire Council over the use of the Woronora Dam Pipeline Service Track as part of the Woronora Way. The track cannot happen without the cooperation of the key landholders and land managers who will ultimately be responsible for future maintenance.
- Potential Woronora Way Alternative routes for walkers and cyclists between Como and Thorp Road Woronora. Canoe trail highlights beaches and picnic grounds as well as short walks from the canoe landing spots. From Thorp Road to Heathcote Road suggested shared route along Sydney Water pipeline track. A footbridge is needed to cross Heathcote Road safely. In Heathcote National Park trail continues along pipeline track. At Battery Point walkers head up Birrawong track to Waterfall, cyclists continue along service track to Woronora Dam Road and then via Old Princes Highway to Waterfall. Links from each railway station along the route down to the main "spine" trail are suggested.
- Logo In order to keep the common theme of Kia'mia for the whole track system throughout the Woronora and the Georges, we have looked at logo designs suitable for signage and publications.
- Waymarker Design This is how a common waymarker for the Great Kia'mia Way might look. Aluminium post with heavy duty stickers which can be replaced if removed by vandals. Cost approx. $60.
- No Common theme at present A common waymarker would help to rationalise the signage in the valley which varies considerably. Helps make the track easier to follow and more user friendly.
- Major Issue Securing Public Access to Pipeline Service Track.
- Heathcote Road The key to establishing the Woronora Way is to develop a partnership between Sydney Water, NPWS and Sutherland Shire Council to allow the use of the pipeline service track. Currently, public access is prohibited. The major physical barrier is Heathcote Road. Council have set aside funds to help with the cost of a shared use bridge to cross the road should permission be granted.
- Jogging along the pipeline track The track is already used extensively by local residents. Sydney Water have obvious risk management and liabilty concerns which need to be addressed.
- Protecting the Upper Valley The benefit of using the service track is that it would control access by keeping users to easy to follow route, of good standard. This negates the need to build a continuous route through sensitive steep bushland habitats upstream of the Deepwater Estate.
- Education and Promotion A key goal of the overall project strategy is to target calendar events to help promote the project to a wider audience. For Clean Up Australia Day - Sunday 2nd March 2003, we are organising an event with the help of Waterways and the Bush Fire Brigade. An abandoned church camp is to be restored to a grassy meadow suitable as a landing point on the canoe trail. The site is only accessible by boat.
- Parc Menai Celtic Festival The following week, Sunday 9th March 2003, we are hiring a stall to help publicise the project. People will be able to pick up a brochure and be asked to complete a questionnaire on local outdoor recreation habits, gauging opinion of the Great Kai'mia Way vision, any local knowledge, ideas or concerns. A large map display will help people pinpoint existing tracks, walkways, cycleways, heritage sites, interesting flora and fauna.
- Funding Sutherland Shire Council are positively supporting the GKW vision and seeing it as a way of integrating the LGA's pedestrian and cycling network. Unfortunately the concept plan just failed to make it into the LEP although there is still time for a submission to be made to alter the plan. Endorsement by council could pave the way for significant funding for track infrastructure such as Heathcote Road footbridge.
|Robert Bell - Gandangara Land Council Ranger
Tracks should draw on Dreamtime knowledge, aboriginal culture closely connected to environment - eg. marker trees, mens/womens sites, bush tucker. Tribal information should also be on signs, advancing community education about tribes now gone and early conflicts with European settlement and sustainability. Robert is keen to work with Project Coordinators on the Gandangara section and links with surrounding areas.
|Roy Dixon - West Menai Precinct Residents Committee
Burnum Burnum Nature Trail planned on behalf of the Precinct Association. Response to rapid population growth in West Menai area and need to protect recreational and environmental opportunities. September 2002 SSEC Trails Forum brought issues together - importance of loops. Menai area lacks infrastructure - poor public transport and other walking areas far away. Aboriginal and European (Old Mill site) heritage significant. Ecologically important area of shale/ sandstone transition forest. Only 2% of West Menai plateau remains undeveloped. This proposed trail will help to conserve natural values.
There are benefits that coordinated regional trails project can deliver - consistent signage, construction and grading standards, provision for on-going maintenance funding. Whilst communities currently do some maintenance work on trails they will need funding for things like sign replacement, new gates, major bush regeneration. Roy and the Precinct Committee look forward to the working in cooperation with the Project to progress the Burnum Burnum Nature Trail.
|Brendon Graham - Natural Areas Manager, Sutherland Shire Council
Brendan briefed members about 2030 Our Shire Our Future (99) - 18 months community survey. Sustainability is being factored into SSC decisions. The Draft LEP has just been released this week and is open for community submissions.
$1 M section 94 funds are available and $100 k identified for the SSC sections of the Great Kai'mia Way. Although Kai'mia Way network was not included in the LEP - it will go forward as an amendment. Master planning will then be required.
The important step now is to get concept accepted by Council - legal issues will be dealt with later.
|Norman Jew - Wollondilly Sustainable Transport Committee
Norman is a keen amateur cyclist from Appin. He became involved in Wollondilly Council's Visions Process and their Alternative Transport Committee, which was formed in 2002. The Committee has community and Council representatives and promotes sustainable transport solutions.
Council has developed a Shire cycleway plan. The Committee proposes a cycleway link with Campbelltown. This would connect to an Appin Heritage Trail. The township dates from 1792 and contains 22 national heritage listed sites - one of Australia's best cultural heritage concentrations.
Cycleways also have great health and recreational benefits. Cities around the world and Australia have outstanding cycleway systems but not Sydney! Limited funds are available to remedy this deficiency.
Norman advocated incorporation of cycleway costs into up-front development fees to provide for sustainable transport as an integral part of standard urban development, rather than the current ad-hoc process, where sustainable transport is seen as an occasional add-on. This cost would be a minimal addition to existing development costs but would require PlanningNSW intervention to be achieved.
- Project funding - $145 k is currently allocated to the Project by PNSW - implementation phase will require additional funds - next Board meeting will brief members on possible funding sources.
- Greenspace Funding (PNSW) - applications close in April.
- Project Feasibility Study - will be completed in August 2003.
- Sydney Harbour Access - PNSW's Integrated Land and Water Access Plan (Draft) - funding - suggested that GRC councils would increase funding clout through combined application.
- Future role of Board - implementation phase will require ongoing Board - next meeting to discuss options.
- Documentation of Project process - meetings, mechanisms, etc - would be worthwhile exercise - possibility of video production should be considered.
- Sandy Point Progress Association walk into federal land Sunday 23 March 8.30 am starting at Community Centre.
- Logo - strong support
Georges River Way Update
Bob Symington - Project Co-ordinator
This presentation focuses on the following:
- Stakeholder consultation
Community groups consulted have included:
Many more community groups have played important roles.
- Sandy Point Progress Association
- West Menai Precinct Residents Committee
- Bankstown Bushland Society
- GREA + Kentlyn
- NSW Bushwalkers Federation
- Bicycle NSW
- Scouts Australia
- Cons Vol Aust
- Friends of Prospect Ck
- Wollondilly Council's Alternative Transport Committe
- The project is acting as facilitator & communities are coming forward with their preferred tracks & trails to become parts of Kaimia Way.
- Kaimia Way Vision November Board were briefed that this vision was defined by a network of sustainable tracks & trails - this is now emerging.
- End product will be much stronger & durable. The community will own the end result and feel pride in its achievement.
- The project is advancing the key aims of GRFIP - increasing recreational opportunities + environmental awareness + building stronger healthier communities.
- It is an exercise in developing Environmental Stewardship - of caring for country. We are strengthening social capital - one of the things that economic rationalists find so difficult to fathom but which greatly enriches our lives.
- 12 councils
- 1.5 m people and 25% of NSW population
- Project coordinators recognise Councils central role in trail planning, construction and on-going maintenance.
- I have met with all 12 councils and had several follow up meetings and recieved a generally excellent level of cooperation from Council staff.
- Most have now marked trail routes on UBD maps, we are now refining to detailed topographic maps. These will be submitted back to Council for endorsement - post ground truthing.
- Using this occasion to thank & encourage all Council to keep up their cooperation with this project - their work will generate great community and environmental benefits and recognition should flow back to them.
Has included detailed consultation with the following state agencies:
We look forward to working closely with these agencies and I thank them for their support to date.
- Waterways Authority
- Sydney Water
It is becoming clear that the Project is delivering substantial benefits - these include the following:
- Regional coordination efficiencies, improving LGA links.
- Identify missing links, establish priorities.
- Honest broker, community ngos/ councils/ agencies.
- To encourage community action + the emergence of champions.
- Brokerage, sustainable solutions + sustainable building materials.
- Coordinators - are currently developing on a common logo/ signage/ brochures/ on-line info/ trail grading.
- Identifying environmental problems - we now have extensive photos dbase.
- We are in a key position to gain implementation funding - the Project now has strong momentum.
- Last few weeks walking tracks and trails.
- Hundreds of photos.
- Bellbirds in Bankstown.
- Marijuana plantations.
- Aboriginal cave paintings.
- Rivers disappearing into cracks.
- Softwood pine bridges burnt.
- Trail bike destruction.
- Leachates oozing into wetlands.
- Recent SMH articles confirm great natural beauty, but Georges River also in environmental decline - due mainly to intensive residential development/redevelopment.
- Incremental loss of environmental /scenic values.
- Almost total absence of boat speed enforcement.
- Consequent bank erosion / turbidity / aquatic life decline.
- Walking/cycleway could clearly show what is happening on the Georges.
- Increasing community pressure to save and restore the Georges back to good health
I have gained the support of several champions that have emerged during the consultation and groundtruthing phases - to form an informal group to seek funding for the implementation of this project - this group will meet soon and will include - Phil Sansom, Kim McClymont, Neil Tonkin, Wilf Hilder and Norman Jew. I look forward to reporting back to you in 3 months on the progress of this group and the overall Project.
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3rd Advisory Board Meeting - 13 June 2003
Campbelltown City Council
Who should have the responsibility of enforcement?
- Deeply concerned about inappropriate use of the trails (i.e. motorised use), is concerned that methods for management currently being discussed for the Kai'mia Way haven't been effective previously, and will be inadequate to protect tracks from trail bike and 4WD damage.
- If there are insufficient funds to ensure appropriate enforcement of management strategies, the project should not go ahead until there are enough funds to cover enforcement procedures (employment of rangers etc.)
- Signage and gates are not going to deter trail bikes and 4WDs for very long
Councils and other stakeholders in the project should come together in one concerted effort to petition the community & government using all types of media.
- If the project goes ahead, will it be a single identity/entity or will it be managed separately by various Councils?
- Why doesn't the entity hire it's own rangers? Could provide employment opportunities for disadvantaged youth in the local areas.
- Guided tours of route for education purposes.
- Liverpool Council is working with Green Corps - since the project can't afford to hire rangers at this stage, could the Green Corps be used in that capacity?
- Concerned that Councils may misuse the trails, need to get all relevant Councils to sign off on trails strategy, so it is managed in a uniform way.
- We are developing checklist of responsibilities that Councils will need to follow.
- Need to liaise with groups such as Heathcote National Park (?) that have been successful in restricting illegal access to existing trails, through the use of surveillance cameras.
- Would like to see security being given top priority should more funding become available.
- Heartened by the way Councils and community organisations have pulled together for the project, but is afraid that factions will fall apart when the study ends in August.
- Recommends the establishment of a Great Kai'mia Way Trust to ensure sustainable development and maintenance of the route network and the partnerships. Could use these funds to employ rangers, etc.
- SSEC & GREA agree with recommendation wholeheartedly, but where is the money for the trust going to come from?
- Should the Councils involved donate to the trust?
- Bulk of money should be coming from State Treasury.
- Georges River Combined Councils would be a good group to champion trust.
- Concerned that significant factors such as toilets, telephones, kiosks have not been considered, but should be.
- When the track becomes more popular, would consider putting 'enviro loos' in place. Need to offer an alternative place for trail bikes to go.
- Gov't should be finding funds for improving access to recreation areas.
- Look at examples of projects around the world where funding has come from the private sector and community, so projects evolve to become independent of government.
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