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.
In a year highlighted by uncertainty and challenges, it was a special honour to recognise twenty outstanding citizens in our local Australia Day Awards ceremony last night.
From disability and mental health advocates to volunteers and environmental champions, all have gone above and beyond for our community this year.
Huge congratulations to Christian Barwell who was awarded Northern Beaches Citizen of the Year.
Inspired by his own family situation, Christian founded Up & Over, a new disability respite service for young people. One can only imagine the challenges involved in establishing a new service in the middle of a pandemic and it’s testament to Christian’s tenacity and commitment that he has got it off the ground. He is a shining ambassador for our community.
I encourage you to take a look at all the fantastic award recipients for 2021 – they embody the strong community spirit that has been so evident on the Beaches during the last twelve months.
And while I for one will miss a bacon and egg roll (well not the egg – just the bacon actually) which is usually cooked by the hard-working Scouts on Australia Day, I’m pleased we are still hosting a range of COVID-safe events across the Beaches, starting tonight and running into next Tuesday. Markets, pool parties, and an outdoor cinema will mark the occasion.
Great summer conditions are expected so plenty of people will be out and about enjoying our parks and beaches. So please remember that however you celebrate Australia Day, follow the health advice, keep your 1.5m distancing and wear masks where required. And please, no matter where you are, support your local business wherever possible.
Have a great weekend and Australia Day.
This week I received a letter from the NSW Health Secretary, Elizabeth Koff, thanking Council staff and myself for our response to the local COVID outbreak.
I want to extend this thanks to our 270,000 residents who were responsive to restrictions and lockdowns, and attended COVID testing clinics in large numbers; and the army of front-line health staff who worked tirelessly to test our community across several days and sites.
It's no surprise that our tourism and hospitality sector has been hit hard from these events. I strongly encourage you to support them by using their services, eating out or taking away and buying gift vouchers.
Now is also a good time to tell us what you think about our tourism strategy and recovery plan to work the road to recovery.
Although face masks, QR codes, social distancing and COVID tests are part of our daily lives (for now!), it's nice to see a return to some normality. I'm particularly looking forward to our Australia Day Festival of events which kicks off next week. Lots is happening over several days across the Beaches and online.
I hope you are enjoying the last weeks of the summer school holidays. Our vacation care program has some vacancies for those families looking for activities for kids next week! Get in fast.
Come Sunday, our community in the north will be free from the lockdown. This is a great opportunity for us all to get together, support each other and our local businesses that have been hit so hard over this period. Particularly those of us in the south who had a head start. We all need to show our appreciation for our residents in the north who have done the hard yards - multiple rounds of testing, isolation and weeks of lockdown. Rob Stokes and I lobbied hard to get the restrictions eased or boundaries changed, but were told it was not safe to do so. That said, thanks to everyone’s amazing efforts, restrictions can now be lifted and we can join the rest of Sydney.
While the threat of COVID is certainly still here, together we can safely get back to business. Council is working closely with our small business community and the local business chambers to put in place measures that continue to support them. This includes waiving of fees and rental charges, rates subsidies and our latest initiative - a phone and liaison Business Support Service, connecting local businesses to range of resources available through state and federal agencies including support for mental health and wellbeing which is so important for everyone.
Please make the most of it this weekend - head outdoors, hire a bike or try a stand up paddle board and book in for lunch or dinner with friends and family.
Council’s services will also be opening up in the north from Sunday, with the mini-golf at Narrabeen open for a game on Sunday.
While our new found freedom is most welcome, let’s not become complacent. I urge everyone to keep up the hand hygiene, wear masks where required and stay informed of the latest COVID locations. Keep up the testing rates. It is the best defence as we are told every day.
By looking out for each other and working to support one another, we will again get through this.
Enjoy the weekend.
I am pleased to share that today Council is launching a new Business Support Service. This will give our local businesses access to information and advice to help them deal with these challenging times.
Yesterday, it was a relief to be able to reopen many of our services and facilities with restrictions eased in the southern part of the region. All our thoughts are with those in the northern zone who are still in lockdown until this Saturday, 9 January.
Let’s continue to do everything we can to support our local businesses, so be sure to shop and dine local wherever you can. You can by a gift voucher today to spend when they open, make a booking today for next week and pay a deposit, every bit will help them get through this.
It’s never been more important than now, for us to show our local business community they are not alone.
Our focus will continue to be on rebooting our local economy and working together.
This year has certainly been like no other and the Christmas period has been especially tough for us on the Northern Beaches.
I am so proud of the way our community has handled the challenges of 2020, especially in this current situation. I thank everyone for doing the right thing. The fact that so many people have been getting tested is a sign that we’re all looking out for one another. I also want to thank everyone who has, and may still be in isolation – that is not an easy thing at any time let alone this time of year, but your efforts are making a difference.
If we all continue to do our bit hopefully the restrictions can ease soon and we can get back on the road to recovery. And again, thank you for playing your part.
The local COVID outbreak has been particularly hard on our small businesses, the local stories of hardship and stress are devastating to hear. I want you to know Council will continue to help in whatever way we can. It was great to hear the Premier and her support in her message today, and we will all welcome the support initiatives the government is working on right now. Council will continue to advocate for immediate financial assistance from state and federal governments and we will keep you updated.
I hope you can mark the year-end with some friends and family and look ahead to a new year with hope and promise. Remember, follow the health advice, stay in your zone and let's continue to look out for each other so together, we’ll get through this.
After days of lockdown and with many in our community now in isolation at home, it is somewhat welcome news that over the Christmas period there will be a slight easing of restrictions.
While I appreciate this is not what you may have had planned, the Premier and the health officials have had to make a call with our best interests at heart and your health and safety have to come first.
I encourage you to make sure you understand the conditions that will be in place for the two zones across the Northern Beaches.
Please take this opportunity to reach out to friends, family and neighbours who may be doing tough but remember the rules and play it safe.
We are a resilient bunch and we’ll get through it supporting each other.
Wishing you a safe and Merry Christmas.
Our community is facing an enormous challenge, in a situation that is evolving day by day.
I can’t thank you enough for responding to the call to stay home, get tested and wear a mask. It’s our spirit of community that will get us through again.
Remember your local small businesses. Get your take away, home delivery and buy a gift voucher from your local retailers, so together we can help them through this too.
Get familiar with the restrictions in the Public Health Orders for the Northern Beaches that is in effect until midnight Wednesday 23 December.
The government also announced today restrictions for Greater Sydney, measures to help all of us get ahead of the threat. Your health and safety is the priority right now.
Again, thank you. Keep looking after yourselves and each other. We got through this once, we will do it again.
Please stay safe.
I am so proud of the way our community has responded to the call to stay home and get tested, so together we can get ahead of this COVID cluster that has hit us all hard.
The advice is loud and clear and has been drilled into us all year, keep 1.5 meters from others, keep up with good hand hygiene, follow the advice on wearing face masks in high-risk areas and most importantly – stay home this weekend and play it safe.
I have seen the long queues for the testing clinics and I can’t thank you enough for persevering. It is important we follow the advice so together we can beat this. Council has been helping NSW Health to open up as many new pop-up and drive through testing clinics as needed to try and get a handle on the extent of the spread.
While it may be a setback, we will get through it if we all do the right thing now.
I encourage you to follow the updates from NSW Heath, do what they advise and look out for each other over this weekend. It is a rapidly evolving situation. Let's have confidence in the State’s Trace team and remember, we are responsible for our own actions. Be kind to each other and check in on your neighbour.
I was thrilled to open the incredible Bare Creek Bike Park this week, alongside Member for Davidson Jonathan O’Dea.
Created from a rehabilitated portion of the former Belrose Waste Management landfill site, this world-class bike park provides for riders of all skill levels and is an incredible asset for locals, and will no doubt provide a tourism boost to our area.
This is the result of a good 10 years of collaboration and would not have been possible without the advocacy of some passionate locals and significant investment from the NSW state government.
A shout out to mountain bike trail builders, Dirt Art, who have built this amazing facility and to Trail Care for advice on design and ongoing help with maintenance.
I know many a rider who has been patiently waiting to see this park open – now you can see just how great it is for yourselves. Don’t forget your helmet!
And if you missed last week’s gorgeous rendition of Silent Night on Shelly Beach by 2020 Northern Composure Unplugged winners Nat & Jules, I encourage you to take a look. It is really something special. This was the first of a series we are recording to get you in the Christmas mood. Today we launched Prinnie's version of Away in Manger and we will be launching two more performances by local artists in the lead up to Christmas, so stay tuned for more to come.
Have a great weekend
An annual report can be a dry document - an account of what’s been achieved in a twelve month period and a record of income and expenditure over a financial year.
Yet, for a publicly-funded organisation such as a Council, the annual report is a critical document, a mark of accountability and transparency for our ratepayers.
In a year highlighted by bush fires, storms and a global pandemic, Council’s 2019/20 annual report, endorsed by Council this week, details how we were able to continue to deliver key projects, introduce new initiatives such as the library home delivery service and provide rate and fee relief to businesses and the community. (We have extended our business support package until the end of March next year.)
We recorded $29.5m in efficiency savings and invested over $97 million in capital works. The incredible recreation hub at Lionel Watts was completed, the aquatic boardwalk on Narrabeen Lagoon Trail opened, Manly Youth Centre modernised and the scouts finally got their new hall at Bilarong reserve. $2.5 million was spent on new footpaths across the area, we progressed new surf clubs for Mona Vale and Long Reef and we added more sections to our magnificent Coast Walk from Manly to Palm Beach.
For all this and so much more, I thank our committed Councillors and staff, working through a time of great uncertainty to maintain focus on delivering for our community.
You can read the Annual Report 2019/20 here.
Have a great weekend.