• Mayor Michael Regan

Read the Mayor’s Message for updates on new recreational facilities and libraries, development of the ambitious coastal walkway from Manly to Palm Beach and big picture issues that affect the Northern Beaches.

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Saturday 21 September 2019

The finishing touches were applied to Forestville’s Melwood Oval this week with the completion of the new public amenities. Council opened two synthetic football fields and the upgraded rugby field in 2015 and have since also upgraded the netball courts, off leash dog park, shared paths and amenities. Working with the War Memorial Committee we have also developed the ANZAC Memorial Pathway to commemorate the contribution made by Australians in World War 1.

The likes of Forest Killarney Football Club, Forest Netball Club, Forest Rugby Club and the Forest District Cricket Club all use the multi-access facility 12 months a year so I am pleased we have been able to complete this significant $6.5 million upgrade.

Work is also progressing well on the over water addition to the Narrabeen Lagoon walking trail. The addition will provide a safe route away from the Wakehurst Parkway and allow us to restore the habitat along the northern foreshore of the lagoon. And it will be a fantastic addition to the popular cycling and walking path. This section of trail is closed while we complete it and the team is working hard to have it reopen next month.

Today marks the official start of Bike Week and Council is a big believer in literally getting bums on seats! Many benefits come with cycling - it is cost effective, a great form of exercise and also helps reduce traffic and parking congestion across the peninsula. The Bike Week fun begins this morning with a pop-up stall with info and giveaways at Mona Vale Beach and tomorrow at Dee Why’s Walter Gors Park.

The winners of the 24/7 Youth Film Festival will be announced tomorrow night at Warringah Mall’s HOYTS cinemas. This festival is a short film competition where young people have had to make a seven-minute short film in just 24 hours. The top 10 films will be screened and judged by industry professionals. If you want to see some top young talent on display, tickets are still available.

Finally, Tuesday night is the monthly elected Council meeting in the Civic Centre at Dee Why. As always, you are welcome to attend, register to address the Council, or watch it live online.

Have a great weekend.

Michael Regan

Saturday 14 September 2019

I am proud to say that this week we were the first Council in New South Wales to sign the National Communications Charter which provides a guide for those of us who are talking about sensitive issues concerning mental health and suicide.

Every suicide is a tragedy. It impacts on individuals, families, workplaces and communities and it’s in all our interests to do everything we can to prevent it. Words do matter and talking about these things in a sensitive way can help reduce stigma and isolation.

It’s just one of the many actions Council is taking alongside police, local agencies and services to prevent suicide across the Northern Beaches. You can also visit the online hub on our website for information and referrals and as always please remember if you or someone you know is in crisis, talk to Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Each year Council celebrates local residents and volunteers through our annual Australia Day Awards. Last year we honoured Graham Whittaker as Northern Beaches Citizen of the Year for his incredible work as a long-time volunteer and supporter and mentor to young people in need.

Now is the time to nominate someone you know for the 2020 Australia Day Awards. The application process is easy online and there are numerous categories to enter. What better way to celebrate our local heroes.

It was excellent to have been able to cement the home semi-final this week after Sea Eagles consultants uncovered small traces of asbestos when doing soil testing in preparation for their Centre of Excellence.

Safety of fans has to be our first priority so I’m pleased we could expedite further testing and put measures in place to effectively manage any risk. Tonight will be a capacity crowd for the Battle of the Beaches and nothing would be better than seeing the players on a victory lap come the final whistle. Go Manly!

You can grab a bargain at Council’s inaugural Bags to Riches flea market at Dee Why Town Centre this morning. Aside from the countless bargains, there will also be entertainment for the kids and live music.

And bookings are open now for Council’s great school holiday offerings. Get in quick.

Have a great weekend.

Michael Regan

Saturday 7 September 2019

Those who regularly tune into this column will know how keen I am to understand why our residents are resistant to installing household solar and what we can do at Council to break down those barriers. Currently just over 8,400 homes on the Northern Beaches opt to use the power of the sun and yet 67,300 are potentially suitable - we are well below the Sydney average for solar PV installation.

So it was great to have Council endorse a plan last week to pursue an ambitious target of 50 percent of suitable premises to have solar panels installed by 2030.

One of the reasons I’m so invested in not just reaching but smashing that target is because I know the benefits solar power has for residents - not just in reducing emissions but also on the hip pocket. There are real financial savings for residents to be had, particularly as we see power bills sky rocketing year after year. The Australian Photovoltaic Institute estimates average savings for a home on the Northern Beaches is over $1,000 each year.

You’ll hear more from us as we roll out some initiatives to encourage greater solar uptake. In the meantime, there is a great digital tool available for residents to see if your property is suitable for solar. It calculates how much electricity and can indicate how much money a Solar PV system could save your home or business. It’s called SunSPoT - check it out.

Today marks the official start of the Manly Arts Festival, a three week program of exhibitions, live performances and artist open houses. While the Festival has its roots in Manly, there are activities now across the area including at the Creative Space at North Curly and Glen Street Theatre. If you want to see the Northern Beaches at its creative best, look no further.

And congratulations to all our Northern Beaches Art Prize winners. Last week Mark Haynes took out the Waste-to-Art category and teenager Micah Lihachov the Youth prize.

Finally, the Picnic in the Park at Mona Vale today promises to be a great family day. The event is free, with live stage shows, dinosaur craft and fossil activities, a reptile display and face painting. Registrations are encouraged, with all the entertainment beginning just after 9.30am at Village Park.

Have a great weekend.

Michael Regan

Saturday 31 August 2019

It was fantastic to see so many people in the gallery for the Council meeting this week, showing their support for issues they care strongly about.

We heard directly from 20 people who addressed the Council with great articulation and passion on issues as far ranging as climate change, dogs and parking. I thank you all, and all those in the gallery behind, for making your voices heard and conducting yourself respectfully as we debated the issues at hand.

We got through a lot of business on Tuesday night. We allocated over $600,000 for building improvements to surf clubs across the area. We endorsed the masterplan for Clontarf Reserve which will see over $5million spent on a major upgrade over the next few years including a new playground, realignment of the car park for more open space and improved amenities.

We’ll also now be seeking public feedback on a draft framework designed to fix the troubled residential parking permit system in Manly and on a plan for West Esplanade that better celebrates its natural and cultural heritage.

We agreed to trial a new dog off leash area on Station Beach at Palm Beach, although we still need to apply for a licence from the state government before it can proceed. This issue has been around for a good 15 years so it’s good staff have spent the last 12 months conducting the extensive consultation and environment assessments needed to give Councillors the best information to make this decision.

And following impassioned addresses from, among others, well-known scientist Tim Flannery and 16-year-old Stephanie Evans concerned for her future, we agreed to join over 900 jurisdictions worldwide, including 35 Australian councils, in declaring a climate emergency and to look at what we can do to make a difference locally.

We always welcome community involvement at our monthly meetings. You can see the agenda the Wednesday before and register to make an address up until midday the day of the meeting.

Finally, best of luck to all those in the Manly Fun Run tomorrow, supporting some of our amazing local charities as well as the event organisers, the Manly Rotary Club itself who provides critical community service.

And Happy Father’s Day to all the dads and grandads out there - hope you are suitably spoilt!

Michael Regan

Saturday 24 August 2019

A welcome announcement this week on the listing of Manly Oval and Ivanhoe Park Botanic Garden on the NSW State Heritage Register.

Credit to the many locals, including the Friends of Ivanhoe Park, who fought so hard to make this a reality.

Both the oval and the park have a long and proud history, very much a part of the fabric of early Manly. In fact Ivanhoe Park was first purchased by Manly Council in 1883 and part of the park was separated off in the early 1900s to accommodate the Spit to Manly tram route!

Today the park and the oval are much-loved places for sports, community groups and locals - a kind of ‘village green’ in the heart of Manly.

The State Heritage Register listing places a welcome extra level of protection so generations to come can continue to enjoy this special part of the Northern Beaches.

It’s a big weekend for sports and exercise. Best of luck to the many players who have made it to grand finals across our numerous sporting codes. Our many sportsfields are hosting literally hundreds of games this weekend and our parks teams have been working hard to ensure they are ready for action. It won’t be long before we are taking down the goal posts and getting fields prepared for the summer sports season.

Special shout out to the Warringah Rats, taking on Sydney Uni in their third straight grand final today.

And I’m sure I’ll see many of you at the popular Pub2Pub Charity Fun Run and Festival tomorrow. Whether you run, jog or walk, take on the 3, 6 or 12km or just cheer on others, you’re a winner for raising money for some great local organisations.

Finally, if you’re near Freshie tomorrow check out the pop-up organic market. We’re trialling this market every Sunday for four weeks, after the local community identified a need for fresh produce after the IGA and Harbord Growers moved on.

The markets will feature fresh organic fruit, vegies and yoghurt from 8am from the lawn of the Harbord Literary Institute Building. It’s plastic free so don’t forget your re-useable shopping bags and why not stop in for brekkie and a cuppa at Freshie Village while you are there.

Have a great weekend.

Michael Regan

Saturday 17 August 2019

When was the last time you visited your local library?

We may live in a digital world, but libraries, a fountain of knowledge for so many people, are here to stay.

In case you were not aware, there are six libraries on the Northern Beaches run by Council, at Dee Why, Forestville, Glen St (Belrose), Manly, Mona Vale and Warringah Mall.

Membership is free and joining is easy, you can do it online or in person.

Our Libraries contain so much more than just books. With over 360,000 items available to the public, last year alone our members borrowed 1.2 million physical items and another 200,000 electronically.

For those unable to make it in person to one of our libraries due to age or disability, our Home Library Service can help. The process is simple – fill out an application form or call 9942 2393 – and then our staff or volunteers will select the items you want and deliver them to you at home. More than 400 members are using this service.

Beyond books, your library offers opportunities to learn a new language or life skill (like using computers), entertain kids, and stream movies and documentaries. You can also discover your family tree, seek out study advice and access online training. Across the board we run 1,800 programs annually.

The next Author Talk with veteran crime reporter Mark Morri at Glen Street Library this Thursday will be intriguing as he discusses the writing of Hate Mail, a thrilling insight into one of Sydney’s most notorious crimes that took place right here at Belrose. Bookings essential.

There are some 185,000 members across the peninsula at our six libraries. We also have four community libraries, with more limited collections, run by dedicated volunteers at Avalon, Seaforth, Freshwater and Terrey Hills.

Council is always on the lookout for volunteers to help. So if you are wanting to give something back to our wonderful community, the Library is a great place to start. Positions include event/activities assistant, public computers assistant, home library service, family history assistant and the always important NSW Justice of the Peace. Waiting lists do apply for some of the roles.

Have a great weekend!

Michael Regan

Saturday 10 August 2019

It’s National Homelessness Week and here on the Beaches we are not immune from this growing issue.

Demand for social and affordable housing far exceeds supply in our area. Alarmingly, there are more than 2,300 people on the waiting list for social housing on the Northern Beaches and almost 400 of those are considered priority cases, yet they face a minimum five to ten year wait for a vacancy.

Reports of rough sleepers have doubled in the last year. Our stretched crisis accommodation providers tell us they often have to turn the most vulnerable people away with domestic violence victims and their children, older women and young people often referred to beds on the other side of Sydney. Of course, this is far away from their support networks, kids’ schools and other important connections.

With some of the highest rents in Sydney, facilitating affordable housing options for our key workers here must also be a priority. It’s not okay that we continue to hear examples of nurses travelling hours across Sydney to work in our hospitals or police officers couch surfing in order to make their shifts.

There are no silver bullets to addressing these issues but it was encouraging to explore the range of challenges and possible solutions with our great network of service providers, local MPs and others at a Housing and Homelessness forum Council hosted this week.

At Council we are exploring how we can continue to implement affordable housing targets in new developments, looking for opportunities to partner with community housing providers and exploring what we can do to support our homeless crisis organisations on the frontline.

But as with many of these crucial issues, it will take a sustained and coordinated approach across multiple agencies, all levels of government and a partnership with those at the coalface to make a difference.

And we need support and input from the broader community. In the coming months we will be releasing a housing discussion paper which will be a great opportunity to explore some of these issues with our community and look at how we can embed solutions for affordable housing into our planning instruments.

Have a great weekend.

Michael Regan

Saturday 3 August 2019

Over the last few weeks more than 3600 worms farms and compost bins have been delivered to residents who ordered them as part of our initiative to support our community to reduce their waste.

When I took this initiative to Council, I knew it would be popular but the level of interest was incredible and the available allocations were quickly exhausted.

It’s great to see our community embrace the war on waste and recognise that the best outcome for the environment is managing waste at the source. If you haven’t used one of these before, you’ll be surprised at how much difference they can make to the levels of your red lidded bin and ultimately how much we collectively can divert from landfill.

I know we have many more residents interested so I am exploring how we can we run this program again this year. In the meantime, Kimbriki run workshops which include a $90 voucher for a worm farm or a compost bin for Northern Beaches residents.

And thanks to all for your patience as we bed down the new waste service. We have new trucks, new drivers, new runs and new collection days and that means there will be teething issues. Once we bed it all down though we will be delivering residents a fantastic new service, one of the cheapest in Sydney.

The future leaders of the Northern Beaches will gather today for an official induction of Council’s Youth Advisory Group.

Twenty-eight youngsters from five different wards were selected from a strong field of applicants to work with Council on our projects and events.

Today they’ll be sharing what connects them to the Northern Beaches and our community and canvassing issues of importance to them. I look forward to meeting these impressive young people today and over the coming weeks.

Finally, a shout out to our 20 young exchange students who leave our shores today after a busy 10 day program as part of our Friendship City Agreement with Japan’s Odawara City Council.

These exchanges offer incredible opportunities for the students and the hosts and you can really see how enriched all involved are from these kind of programs.

Have a great weekend.

Michael Regan

Saturday 27 July 2019

What better excuse than Local Government Week to highlight all the great things Council does to make the Northern Beaches even better!

Besides upgrading your roads and footpaths and collecting your rubbish, we also manage over 120 sportsfields, around 220 playgrounds and a growing number of skate parks, as we cater to people’s active lifestyles in the area.

We have over 90,000 members of our libraries and community libraries, provide childcare for over 4,000 kids and operate 41 community centres hosting seniors cooking, life drawing and playgroups for children with disabilities.

We also have great staff who spend their days looking after our unique bushland and waterways. Our environmental scientists, bushcare specialists and engineers ensure we have the best science behind every action we take to protect the environment we know is so highly valued by our residents.

Did you know we also have a role to ensure our cafés and restaurants are up to scratch with food safety, local historians to capture our rich past and theatre and exhibition curators to deliver unique and interesting programs for our galleries and theatre.

And we even deliver meals on wheels to 2,000 community members in their home each week.

You may be surprised to find how much a part of your every day local government actually is. And that’s why it’s so satisfying to be a part of it.

Good news this week for sporting clubs as we open the new $3.4million synthetic playing fields at Lionel Watts Reserve in Frenchs Forest. These first class fields extend the playing time for both training and games, with no need for cancellations due to wet weather. This is another key milestone reached in the masterplan for this area, with the new playground and skate park also progressing well.

Finally it is great to see the range of groups we have been able to support through our grants programs. At our Council meeting this week we endorsed more than $254,000 in grants and waivers for everything from homeless outreach to mental health first aid training, from dance therapy to literacy programs. So many groups doing so much incredible work - it’s fantastic that we can do our bit to support them.

Have a great weekend.

Michael Regan

Saturday 20 July 2019

With school holidays coming to an end I want to take the opportunity to thank Council staff for their tireless efforts running programs to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

The opportunities were endless for busy parents and kids who didn’t want to stay at home. Our Coastal Environment Centre at North Narrabeen, Vacation Care centres all over the peninsula and swimming lessons at our aquatic centres were all immensely popular.

Across our services, we had more than a thousand kids come through the doors. Around 400 of those youngsters took part in our library programs, with activities including creative writing, weaving craft, a comedy show from Sean Murphy and a zine workshop. Keep an eye on Council’s website for school holiday activities planned for late September and early October. Bookings are often essential.

The fun doesn’t stop because the school holidays are over. The Forestville Business Group, with the support of Council, has organised the inaugural Winter Festival at ‘The Centre’ in Forestville next Saturday, 27 July from 9am. This will be a great opportunity to enjoy some family-friendly entertainment with free music, a petting zoo, face painting and a special creator space hosted by the Forestville Library.

For those interested in art, be sure to catch three new exciting exhibitions opening next Friday, 26 July at the Manly Art Gallery and Museum. Two exhibitions feature the works of Sydney photographic artists Stu Spence and Louise Whelan which are sure to captivate all those who enjoy cutting edge photography. The third exhibition features the mesmerising works of one of Australia’s most respected abstract painters Charlie Sheard.

This weekend will be one to enjoy for local sports fans and undoubtedly a highlight on our sporting calendar, kicking off with this afternoon’s Shute Shield rugby derby between Warringah and Manly at Pittwater Rugby Park. With a crowd of at least 10,000 expected to roll through the gates, it promises to be a fantastic atmosphere. May the best team win.

Tomorrow sees Manly host traditional NRL rivals Parramatta at Lottoland from 4pm – victory for the Sea Eagles will cement their place in the top eight with the semi-finals looming. Good luck fellas.

Have a great weekend.

Michael Regan