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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While life is starting to return to something more like normal for many of us, for some the impact of COVID-19 has been severe.
That’s why I wanted to highlight some of the great work going on behind the scenes to support those in need.
Since mid-March over 6,500 boxes of fresh produce has been delivered to people across the Northern Beaches doing it tough.
It’s thanks to a fantastic partnership between Council, Harris Farm and services such as the Community Co-op Northern Beaches.
Five days a week, quality fresh fruit and veg generously donated by Luke Harris and his team is packed into boxes and distributed to around 20 front line community organisations who make sure it gets to those who need it.
There are also non-perishable care packs which are made up of donations collected from the community at 47 collection points.
You can help too – check out Community Co-op Northern Beaches on facebook to learn how.
A massive thanks to everyone involved in this initiative as we see again the great community spirit of the Northern Beaches.
Stay safe and enjoy the long weekend.
Thanks to the state government easing more restrictions, we are pleased to be reopening some of the services that we know many have missed, next week.
Our Mona Vale, Dee Why and Manly customer service centres open Monday. You can now book an appointment to avoid the queues.
Our libraries are also reopening their doors Monday, please check the opening hours of your nearest branch. And staff at the Manly Art Gallery & Museum are also thrilled to be welcoming visitors from Tuesday with reduced hours and a new visitor booking system.
Of course all our facilities require social distancing, the application of hand sanitiser and we are encouraging cashless transactions wherever possible. Please follow the rules as we don’t want to go backwards.
Finally a happy 40th anniversary to Long Reef Aquatic Reserve! Such a magical place not only for recreation but critical for education and research. Take a visit and explore the rock platform - you might even be lucky enough to spot a whale on its early migration.
Have a great weekend.
Happy National Volunteers Week!
This week we celebrate the many and varied ways volunteers enrich our community.
We have over 900 incredible volunteers with Council who normally work across eleven areas of Council - from delivering library books to looking after our environment; to hosting community Meals on Wheels lunches or helping out at big events.
In the main, they are on a break thanks to COVID-19 but we look forward to welcoming them all back once the restrictions are lifted.
A massive thank you to you all.
And a note to those in our arts communities - please have a look at the new grants we released this week, to support you through this challenging time.
Have a great weekend everyone.
In a glimpse of light at the end of our long isolation tunnel, this week we see a number of restrictions easing, allowing us to reopen some beloved pools, playgrounds, outdoor gyms and skate parks - with conditions of course.
It’s possible only because as a nation, as a community, we have done the right thing and hugely reduced the rate of COVID-19 infection. Of the more than 1,200 tests done at the Manly pop up testing centre recently, there has not been a single positive test returned.
However the message remains – enjoy the new freedoms but keep vigilant. Keep your 1.5m distance from others, continue with regular hand washing and abide by the new 10 person gathering rules.
Our rangers and police can not be everywhere making sure our community does the right thing. We all need to be responsible for following the rules - only then will we be able to move to the next level and return to a situation closer to normality.
Thanks for your cooperation. Have a great weekend.
Happy Mothers Day to all the incredible mums and grandmas out there!
And for those of you still searching for a way to make sure your mum is given the recognition she deserves, please have a look around your local area and support some of our businesses doing it tough.
Many restaurants and cafes are offering brunch, lunch and dinner packages delivered direct to your door or gift vouchers you can purchase for a later date. Similarly many of our local retailers have vouchers where your mum can choose what she’d like from the online store. There’s plenty of local options around if you seek them out. And you won’t just make mum happy but also help keep a business going through these challenging times.
As part of Council’s package to support small businesses to get back on the road to recovery we are launching a free webinar series next week. They are the first in a series with a range of topics to help you access the right grants, operate online or learn new ways of trading. Be sure to register your interest.
This week Council’s budget was put out for public comment. It includes ongoing support for business and community through the COVID-19 crisis, invests $91m in community infrastructure, includes relief for ratepayers and will ensure we don’t leave large debt for future generations. Have we got it right? Please see what is planned and have your say.
It’s great news that as a nation we are flattening the so-called COVID-curve. BUT, Northern Beaches is still an identified hotspot so we can’t drop our guard. NSW Health have opened a pop-up COVID-19 testing station in Manly Town Hall this week. Anyone with even mild symptoms: sore throat, cough, fever, shortness of breath can use it and it's open seven days a week.
So, if you have any concerns at all please get a test and put your mind at ease. The more people we test, the quicker we’ll pick up infections and get on top of them.
Our home delivery library service has been operating for a month now and we have been blown away by its success! In just four weeks we have made more than 9,500 deliveries of over 21,000 books, DVDs and CDs. People are loving it and other councils are replicating our model. Congrats to all the staff involved in providing this amazing service.
Finally, I just wanted to share how proud I was of the response to ANZAC Day this year. In another incredible display of Northern Beaches creativity and passion, social media was flooded with videos of kids playing the last post at the end of their driveways at dawn, home-made wreathes and crosses shared with neighbours, cookies baked, and just a great respect for the occasion in the absence of physical events to attend. In one example a resident organised a small (social distanced) parade on her street, honouring her 97-yr-old grandfather who fought in WW2 and another local Vietnam vet. Her community embraced it and came out with flags and uniforms.
What an awesome community we have.
This year’s ANZAC Day commemorations are to be like none we’ve experienced before. There will be no Dawn Services nor any marches on the Northern Beaches (or even within Australia).
While we cannot physically gather together, there are still many ways we can show the spirit of ANZAC and recognise our past and current armed servicemen and women.
Earlier this week I had the pleasure to catch up with the Northern Beaches District President of RSL Sub Branches, Bill Hardman. We discussed the many ways we can commemorate our ANZAC heroes under these COVID circumstances; we've shared this discussion online and hope it helps you find something suitable for you and your family.
For the early birds, you can tune into the ANZAC service from Canberra from 5.30am onwards, which will be streamed live on the ABC.
At 6am you can ‘Light up the dawn’ by going to the end of your driveway, stand on your balcony or in your living room, to remember all of those who have served and sacrificed so much for our nation.
Also at 6am, brass musicians are encouraged to join Australian jazz legend James Morrison and play the Last Post in their driveways.
Many RSL sub-branches like Forestville RSL Sub-Branch and Harbord Diggers RSL Sub-Branch have special “ISO” activities planned to help residents commemorate in special ways too – including virtual church services. A full list of all activities from our Local Sub branches is available on our website.
Council staff have also stepped in to place 470 Australian flags on war veterans’ graves at Mona Vale and Manly cemeteries. Because of COVID-19 measures, volunteers who would normally do this important work are unable to do so this year.
I’m very grateful to the staff who came forward to volunteer their time to walk around the cemeteries and place the flags. And to the volunteers who have done this in the past and will again in the future – thank you.
Lastly, Council will be sharing the importance of ANZAC Day with our younger generation through our Child Care Centres, as they learn via activities such as making rosemary wreaths, poppy flower necklaces and ANZAC biscuits.
RSL NSW defines the ANZAC Spirit as the qualities of mateship, humour, ingenuity, courage and endurance, with Australians relying on these characteristics when times are tough. So in our current demanding climate, let’s not forget that we too can reflect on these same qualities and draw strength from them.
I wish you and your family health and happiness as we join together this Saturday to commemorate the spirit of ANZAC.
Lest we forget.
We’ve been hearing so many great stories about how our community is keeping connected and supporting each other during these strange times. And at Council, we wanted to ensure we were assisting those helping others in our community.
Soon you will receive a copy of our Hello Neighbour card in your letterbox or you can download a copy from our website. Just fill in your details, nominate what you can help with and pop it in a neighbour’s letterbox or under their door. Love the Viral Kindness movement for that initiative.
You can lend a hand by picking up groceries or urgent supplies like medicine, helping out in their garden, walking a dog or even just having a chat on the phone. Remember to keep your distance, wash your hands and leave any items at your neighbour’s door. It’s important we continue to look out for each other, especially those who are elderly, isolated or just having a tough time.
With school holidays upon us, many parents are looking for ways to keep their kids entertained. I know I am!
Check out Council’s Facebook and or website to find some fun educational videos from our Coastal Environment Centre – you can learn how to build a cosy drey for local possums or set up an experiment with bread to find out just how clean our hands actually are!
And even though you can’t visit Manly Art Gallery and Museum, our fun creative learning workshops for kids aged 6-11 continue online.
I would like to extend a big thank you to all of those in our community who enjoyed their Easter weekend at home. A thank you also goes to our Rangers, Lifeguards and other staff who monitored our beaches, walks, parks and reserves to make sure social distancing and gathering rules were adhered to.
Please don’t be complacent, we still need your help to stop the spread on the Northern Beaches. Remember to stay home and only go out for essential reasons. I know it can be hard when the sun is shining but keep up the great work protecting yourself and others.
This is certainly an Easter like none we’ve ever seen before.
No packing up the car, no family camping, no picnics with friends, no visits to church. Regional areas are asking us not to holiday there. And we’ve sent out a message that Australia’s number 1 most popular beach is closed to stop hordes of people coming. What the!?
It’s a difficult time and I’d rather not use this column to focus on all the dos and don’ts again. If you are in any doubt, apply common sense and assess everything you do against the messages from the government and police - STAY HOME!
And for goodness sake, give our lifeguards and rangers a break. They are out there doing their best to keep our community safe and healthy and prevent you copping a fine for doing the wrong thing.
What I’d like to focus on this week is some of the great things I am hearing going on in the community to keep us all connected.
Some neighbourhoods are participating in a teddy bear hunt. Bears are placed in a window visible from the street so when kids go out for their daily exercise they can spot them.
There are chalk drawings of rainbows, hearts and unicorns popping up on suburban footpaths encouraging people to stay home and stay safe.
Similarly, posters with warm and positive messages are being seen on front lawns and in windows as people use their time at home to get creative. I’ve even heard of an instance where a pre-schooler was disappointed to miss out on his birthday party so the street organised a happy birthday sing-a-long from their doorsteps as he walked by.
We’ve seen great generosity like Harris Farm giving away 100 boxes of fruit and veg a day to those in need, and the viral kindness community looking out for the most vulnerable.
This week Computer Pals and I taught each other how to use Zoom as they were missing their regular sessions at the Tramshed. I think they can now continue classes via Zoom - grandparents home schooling like their grandkids!
Add to all this the amazing work being done by our community organisations to support those in need and again we see the incredible Northern Beaches spirit shining through.
Finally, a shout out to our library staff this week. The new Library2U service has been enthusiastically embraced, with more than 11,000 items borrowed since 1 April. The team is full steam ahead filling and delivering orders. Get your order in online.
Happy Easter all. Stay safe.
JFK said “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.” Whoever would have thought that having ‘dozens’ of people on Manly Beach at one time would ever have made the headlines. Well, over the last few weeks there has been a huge focus on this very issue.
Nonetheless that’s the world we now live in and the message from the Premier and the police this week has been very clear: you need a very good reason to leave your house unless for work, education, groceries, food, medical appointments or exercise.
That means if you are at the beach this weekend, it is for exercise only. You can walk, run, surf or swim at our beaches this weekend but you will be moved on if you are sunbaking, picnicking or otherwise lingering unnecessarily. And you still need to adhere to the social distancing and gathering rules we are now all so familiar with. Thank you for understanding and doing your bit.
This is a massive shift for us as a beach-loving community but I ask for your cooperation for the health of our whole community. And unfortunately, we have had to close a few beaches in the past two weekends.
On a lighter note, Council is launching some great new initiatives. From Monday our Click and Collect library service will become a home delivery service! That means you can still order your favourite reads online, or ask for librarians choice, and we’ll deliver your order so you don’t need to leave the house.
It’s one of many services we are doing differently to support people staying at home. Over the next month you’ll see a range of new online offerings which could help you learn a new skill, entertain your kids or enjoy an exhibition.
We are also expanding on a great initiative started by a handful of locals, #viralkindness, who identified the need to connect people who might need a hand to those willing to lend a hand.
It’s a great time to get to know your neighbours. We’ll be delivering a ‘hello neighbour’ postcard to all residents which you can use to drop off to someone in your neighbourhood to offer to do a shop, or drive them to a medical appointment or even just have a chat over the phone.
And a big shout out to local businesses who are helping each other change the way they deliver their products. Council is playing a role there too to connect them. We’ll get through this if we all support each other.