OPINION: Eye watering sum of money spent by the Government on Foreshore planning

DEAR News Of The Area,

WE have recently received a belated response to a GIPA (Freedom of Information) Request that was lodged on 9/1/23, in relation to how much money the government has spent on public consultation and associated town planning for the land east of the railway line at the Foreshores.

Unfortunately the government refuses to be entirely forthcoming so it is difficult to be certain what is covered by the figure however, we are advised that from 2017 until 12/1/23 they have paid invoices totalling $3,257,051.

Yes $3.25 million dollars.

I believe this figure does not include the wages, salaries and associated costs of public servants engaged on the project during this period.

By comparison the plan prepared by Mick Maley and published in NOTA on 3/3/23 cost $17.27 and two beer coasters.

Mick is happy to cover this cost on behalf of the community and not pass it on to taxpayers.

In response to Mick’s plan, our local member trotted out his standard response.

Namely “That’s why the State Government embarked on a three year consultation process that resulted in the most comprehensive survey of exactly what people wanted to see – with each question clearly asking for support or opposition”.

Every time he quotes this (and it is often), he fails to mention that all along we were told that public domain improvements were dependent upon “revenue generating development” (see page 8 of the Ethos Urban Phase 1 Consultation Report).

This was code for – allow us to build multi storey residential and tourist accommodation or you won’t get anything.
How can we ever forget Q19 of the most recent survey where the options were 1) no development – leave the existing fences and no public domain, activation or connection improvements 2) up to six storey buildings, 3) eight storey buildings.

I am yet to meet anyone who wants the fences left in place and nothing done.

Even in the analysis of the questions where you had the ability to provide your own answers, the best the report can say is the community said “Development is overdue and needs to happen”.

How can this be taken as endorsement of multi storey residential and tourist accommodation.

It is simply saying something needs to be done.

I endorse the sentiment but the development I want to see is the fences pulled down and the area given to the community for parklands, playgrounds, coffee shops and restaurants etc.

Something everyone can enjoy, not just the wealthy.

$3.25 million could have gone quite some way to making a start on this process.

Perhaps Gurmesh can explain why we have been treated like this when in Sydney the WestInvest Fund has $1.6 billion to spread between fifteen local councils to undertake “transformational infrastructure projects”.

Exactly like what could be done at the Foreshores.

Surely this community deserves an explanation from our local member.

Helen and Bruce WEIR,
Coffs Harbour.

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