Council to investigate waiving fees on public facilities and an affordable housing policy

The region’s lack of affordable housing was recently debated at a Council meeting, with Council to investigate developing an affordable housing policy. Photo: Emma Darbin.

 

THE waiving of fees on the use of public facilities and the development of a policy and direction for affordable housing in the region will be investigated by Coffs Harbour City Council.

Much debate ensued over these two issues at Council’s meeting on Thursday 24 June, while councillors were discussing the adoption of Council’s 2017-2022 Delivery Program (Year 5), 2021/22 Operational Plan, 2021/22 Delivery Program Budgets, and 2021/22 Fees and Charges.

Beatties FurnitureAdvertise with News of The Area today.
It’s worth it for your business.
Message us.
Phone us – (02) 4981 8882.
Email us – [email protected]

On the use of public facilities, Keelan Birch spoke on behalf of Coffs Harbour Parkrun at the Council meeting and called on Council to consider changing how Parkrun’s annual $520 licence fee for the use of Park Beach Reserve is waived.

The fee is currently waived each year through Council’s Donations Program.

“Coffs Harbour Parkrun is a free community event; it’s put on for the community by the community with no charge to those participating and has been occurring at Park Beach Reserve for four years now,” Mr Birch said.

“No participant is charged for the event.”

Mr Birch asked for the Parkrun event to be considered as “no charge”.

“If fees are charged our community event can not occur,” Mr Birch said.

“We’re a weekly not for profit community focused event for anyone who’s able to participate.”

On the issue of housing affordability, Cr Sally Townley moved an alternate recommendation at the meeting that Council add $100,000 to the 2021/22 Budget to develop a policy and direction for affordable housing.

“Not that long ago we voted unanimously to agree in principle that local government does have a role to play in affordable and social housing,” Cr Townley stated.

“If we are serious about it we need to resource it.”

Councillors unanimously resolved on 13 May for Council to recognise that local government can play a role in the provision of affordable housing and/or social housing, and for Council to review case studies of other Local Government Areas who have made effective advancements in social and/or affordable housing.

Cr Keith Rhoades then moved an amendment for a report to be presented to Council to look at the possibility of waiving fees on the use of public facilities, and for a report to be presented to Council on a budget allocation to develop a policy and direction for affordable housing.

“It’s about having the information in front of you to make an informed decision,” Cr Rhoades stated at the meeting.

However, Cr Paul Amos disagreed with the need for further reports on affordable housing.

“My recommendation is that we have already unanimously resolved to do something about the affordable housing issue,” Cr Amos said.

“Rather than asking for another report, we should be a bit more decisive and move forward with a proposal rather than just delaying.

“As long as we just get reports coming back and coming back we will not move forward.”

Cr Amos questioned how much it would cost for a report to come back to Council on the matter and whether Council could spend its money on this issue “in a better way”.

He also reaffirmed his belief that the local affordable housing problem was “really a State Government issue”.

“We can do our own bits and pieces amongst that,” Cr Amos said.

“We can approve affordable housing that comes before this Chamber, if it meets all the requirements.

“In the past we’ve probably not been as diligent there as we could be, in my eyes.”

Cr Michael Adendorff agreed with Cr Rhoades that a further Council report on the affordable housing issue was needed.

“We do need a report, otherwise we are just picking a figure,” Cr Adendorff said.

“It is pretty important that we get it right.”

Cr John Arkan also agreed that councillors needed another Council report.

“We need to have the report come back, it’s a serious matter of affordable housing,” Cr Arkan said.

“With the report, I feel that we will get this right.”

After more than half an hour of debate, Cr Rhoades’ amendment was unanimously approved by all councillors present at the meeting.

Council will now adopt its 2017-2022 Delivery Program (Year 5), 2021/22 Operational Plan, 2021/22 Delivery Program Budgets and 2021/22 Fees and Charges, request a report from Council to look at addressing the waiving of fees on the use of public facilities, and request a report from Council on a budget allocation to resource the development of a policy and direction for affordable housing.

The adopted Council documents will be implemented from 1 July and posted on Council’s website by 30 June.

 

By Emma DARBIN

Leave a Reply

Top