• 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 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

Saturday 13 July 2019

Celebrations for NAIDOC Week have been occurring around the country including with our own staff acknowledging the significance with a flag raising ceremony at Dee Why Civic Centre on Monday morning with a representative of our local Aboriginal Heritage Office.

NAIDOC Week celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, culture and achievements and this year’s theme includes Truth, Voice and Treaty.

To mark NAIDOC, and the month-long Gai-mariagal Festival which winds up this week, we also launched the spectacular Weaving Bridges project on Queenscliff Bridge. This project involves months of workshops with local Aboriginal Elders, creating woven pieces that combine to create an incredible colourful artwork across the bridge. It will be up for the next week or so - make sure you get down to see it.

I know of many people across our area who have taken on the Plastic Free July challenge and are finding creative ways to avoid plastic. The challenge has grown from what was once a humble office initiative in Perth into a global movement, with over two million people in 170 countries taking part annually.

Whether you do the challenge or not, check out the great array of Council waste reduction workshops and take the Swap This for That pledge to replace your plastic bags, water bottles, straws, and coffee cups with reusable alternatives.

You can’t miss the message on our new colourful waste trucks too, helping to spread a mobile reminder for our community and visitors to avoid single use plastics.

Finally, if you are stuck without something for the kids to do next, we’ve got you covered. There are still a few spots available at our Vacation Care centres at Cromer, Curl Curl, Forestville and Manly Vale and I’ve been reliably informed some of the planned excursions include Ice Zoo, Hoyts, Inflatable World and the Quarantine Station.

And check out the Manly Andrew ‘Boy’ Charlton Aquatic Centre’s daily 30 minute swimming lessons or for the young creative types, the Manly Art Gallery is the place to be next Sunday 21 July for an artist workshop from 10.30am to 12pm.

Bookings are essential to all our activities.

Have a great weekend.

Michael Regan

Saturday 6 July 2019

It was a proud moment for all our staff recently when Council was officially recognised as an accredited White Ribbon workplace.

It is estimated that on average, one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner and one in four women have experienced emotional abuse by a current or former partner since the age of 15. These are shocking statistics and it will take a community effort to turn them around.

As an accredited workplace, our Council continues to lead by example and raise awareness through our staff and the community. We provide training to staff to help support those in need and have introduced flexible work policies for anyone experiencing violence. A great initiative.

Elsewhere, many will be pleased to learn that we are putting the Manly Warringah War Memorial Park forward for a National Heritage listing.

If approved, the site, also known as Manly Dam, would join the likes of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, North Head and the Opera House as nationally recognised places of significance.

Given Manly Dam’s importance as a place of reflection and memorial for those fallen in war, it’s high degree of technical achievement as a dam of the era, the prevalence of threatened plant and animal species, and a rich Indigenous history, we hope it will have a good chance of a successful listing.

With a little over 100 approved venues across the country, to see Manly Dam added to the National List would be a massive coup for our area. Thank you to the various community members for pushing this forward.

Sport has always been a massive part of our identity on the Northern Beaches, so I am happy to confirm applications for the 2019/20 round of Sport and Recreation Infrastructure Grants are now open. This is a great opportunity for clubs and organisations to get a financial boost for worthy projects. Apply online by Monday 12 August.

Finally, a shout out to the many businesses who came along to our Swap for Good expo earlier this week. It was fantastic to see so many businesses learning from each other on how to eliminate single use plastics.

Have a great weekend.

Michael Regan

Saturday 29 June 2019

This week your Council endorsed a $453.5 million budget, with a $110.3 million capital works program. It’s a responsible budget with an emphasis on getting our assets like pools, wharves, sportsfields, roads and playgrounds up to scratch.

We continue to pay down the loans inherited from the former Councils plus outstrip the projected efficiency savings promised by amalgamation, allowing us to invest $29.5 million into new priority infrastructure, improved service levels and lower waste charges for ratepayers.

Our surf clubs will get a $1.5 million investment to improve their buildings, on top of $3.8 million for brand new clubs at Long Reef, Mona Vale and works at Manly.

Around $3 million will go to new footpaths and a continued investment in the 36km Manly to Palm Beach Coast Walk of another $3.7 million.

And we are prioritising areas of need our community has asked for, increasing our cleaning services in public areas and providing more childcare places for children under three.

Residents will see a local government CPI-like increase averaging $37 next financial year to cover rising costs for providing Council services, however, many residents will also receive a larger reduction in their waste charges as a result of the new consolidated waste service. In fact it’s one of the lowest domestic waste charges in Sydney.

Speaking of which, look out for the fleet of new garbage trucks which hit the road next week. In an Australian first for a domestic waste service, the entire domestic waste fleet will have fully enclosed hoppers to reduce odour and litter. Plus all the latest in safety features and technology to lift the service for residents.

Boarding houses are back in the news this week following the approval by the L&E Court of another 32-room facility in the back streets of suburban Allambie Heights. Unfortunately we still have a heap of these pending - over 500 rooms across the area - all submitted before the introduction of the 12-room cap. If the state government won’t apply the cap retrospectively it’s very difficult for Council or the community to stop them. And then, shockingly, once built, they are being advertised as exec apartments and renting for over $400pw. Hardly affordable!

With school holidays just around the corner, get the kids off the screens and into some awesome Council-run activities. Still spots available, book online.

Have a good weekend.

Michael Regan

Saturday 22 June 2019

Council’s new waste service is getting close to kick off on 1 July. Please check your new waste calendar to find out more about your new bin collection days.

I’m happy to report that more than 184,000 old bins have already been sent off to be recycled into new ones. Since it costs more to replace and repair them in an ad hoc way over the 10-year contract, ratepayers will save around $1.2million over the longer term if we replace them now. In fact the bins we picked up a few months ago from Avalon and Palm Beach have been recycled into bins being delivered now to Allambie Heights and Duffys Forest!

You may have read that there have been some instances where bins have inadvertently made their way to Kimbriki instead of our recycling plant. While a small number of bins appear to have been involved, our partners have put additional measures in place to further reduce the chance of this happening as the project wraps up.

Elsewhere, a gentle reminder that entries close for the Northern Beaches Art Prize this coming Monday at 5pm. It’s the area’s most prestigious art competition, offering total prizes worth $27,000 across four categories. Make sure you don’t miss out.

Entries are also now open for the 2019 Young Writers’ Competition. Encourage your budding young Shakespeare to apply - competition is open to students in Kindergarten through to Year 12.

And with year 12 exams rapidly approaching, students can get a lot from Council’s Secrets of HSC Success lecture series. The first is on Monday at Warringah Mall Library, with student Caroline Wang. Caroline achieved an impressive ATAR of 97.50 and she will share how she learnt to study smarter, not harder.

Finally, a shout out to all our committed staff who were recognised at the annual NSW Local Government Excellence Awards this week. Congrats to our library team who scooped up two awards and a special mention for the cross-Council team that won the highly coveted Australasian Management Challenge. Great work all.

Have a great weekend.

Michael Regan

Saturday 15 June 2019

Rowland Reserve in Bayview is the place to be on Sunday morning when Canine Connect comes to the Northern Beaches.

German shepherds, cocker spaniels, poodles or bulldogs – dogs of all ages, shapes and sizes are welcome and renowned dog trainer Steve Austin will be on hand to answer any questions.

For a bit of fun, a ‘best dressed’ competition will start at 9.20am, followed by a ‘look-alike’ competition just after 11am.

Elsewhere, the Gai-mariagal Festival continues this weekend with events across the Northern Sydney area. Starting late last month to coincide with Sorry Day, the festival aims to raise awareness of, and celebrate, our local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Look out for the final two Weaving Bridges workshops with Elders of the Northern Beaches Aboriginal community – a great opportunity to learn new skills, make new connections and contribute towards a series of public artworks.

On Wednesday night, media personality Gus Worland will host a Big Ideas Forum at Glen Street Theatre. The focus is on mental health, with open conversations on the discussions we should be having. Tickets are $10 per person.

Next Saturday 22 June, Council will also host another ‘Human Book’ event at Warringah Mall Library. Launched successfully last year, the concept sees willing participants go ‘on loan’ to the public for 20 minutes at a time to share stories about overcoming challenges, stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination they have experienced in their lives.

Coinciding with Refugee Week, we are lucky enough to have a number of refugees who have agreed to share their unique stories and perspectives. I encourage you to come along.

And last call for those who’d like to help shape the future of the Northern Beaches by being part of the Youth Advisory Group. We’re looking for enthusiastic 12 to 21 year olds who would like to get involved – learn a lot, have a voice and get free entry to some youth events! Nominations close tomorrow.

Have a great weekend.

Michael Regan