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Meritorious suggestions to be considered in the future

Clarence Valley Council (CVC) will not directly adopt suggestions contained within submissions made by ratepayers during the exhibition of its planning and budget documents, however, some ideas that have “merit” will be further examined in the future.

The report to the June 23 CVC meeting notes that “feedback received during public exhibition is not proposed to directly affect the 2020/2021 budget, however, there are a number of suggestions that have merit and require further investigation prior to being included in future works programs”.

These include support for the Ratepayers Association of Iluka’s suggestion to provide “disabled access for Scout Hall and a BBQ” – CVC staff wrote: “The project has in principle support, completion is subject to receipt of external funding for planning and construction works.”

On the association’s request for various bike paths around the village, staff wrote: “In general, footpath and cycleway construction is based on the PAMP [Pedestrian Access and Mobility Plan] and Bike Plan and grant funding Council can attract.

“Over the next year Council will be scoping a number of projects, based on the PAMP rating and [the] likelihood of attracting funding based on the grant criteria, for consideration over the coming years.”

The Woombah Residents Association’s submission for a bitumen bike path attracted the same comment; however, “bitumen paths are not [CVC’s] preferred option due to the maintenance requirements”.

Staff wrote that the Woombah association’s request for a storage shed in the park “has in principle support, Council staff are working through the required processes to formalise tenure”.

The Wooli Coastal Communities Protection Association’s submission, regarding “relocatable stairs for access way at the CWA Park/Cenotaph at Wooli … has in principle support; an $80,000 allocation is included in the draft 2020/21 budget”.

Grafton Dragon Boat Club & Clarence River Sailing Club’s submission asked for river access on foreshore at Salty Sellar Reserve “following damage from February flood event”.

“The $30,000 proposal has in principle support, as it will improve access to the River for users of the sailing shed and reserve,” staff wrote.

“[It] would have strong support as a project under the Crown Reserve Improvement Fund given the number of boating clubs using the area.”

Clarence Forum convenor John Hagger’s suggestion that CVC “support the Clarence LGA as a Refugee Welcome Zone” was noted as having “merit”, however, staff wrote that “the present COVID-19 implications on all immigration makes it unlikely to be actioned anytime soon”.

This year’s public consultation was “concentrated online and promoted through various media mediums”, due to the pandemic-triggered lockdown.

Staff wrote in their analysis of the public consultation that the “details of 12 key projects … available online alongside the Integrated Planning & Reporting documentation … attracted 1,979 visits”, of which “1,751 … were unique viewers”.

“A conversation about the key projects was hosted on Clarence Conversations, where commentary and questions were invited; the result being 72 participants – 9.6% of which [sic] were ‘engaged’ by active participation in the forum, 30.8% were ‘informed’ by viewing and visiting multiple pages and the remaining 59.6% were ‘aware’ by visiting at least one page,” staff wrote.

“Online viewing in 2020 is significantly improved on the previous year, when 386 online hits were recorded.

“Council administration centres in Maclean and Grafton held outward facing displays of projects and summary documentation, encouraging members of the community who were viewing as they passed, to view the full documentation online.”

Other methods of communication cited in relation to promoting the exhibition included “seven (7) Facebook and three (3) Twitter posts, DEX Noticeboard promotional articles for three (3) weeks and radio announcements on 2GF and Loving Life radio”.

Staff wrote that “commentary on social media was generally positive”.

In total, there were 13 submissions lodged by people and associations across the valley.