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Newsletter no.2 from Ald Anna Reynolds - Feb 2015
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Hello again from Town Hall!

I loved getting your positive feedback about my first newsletter last month – it seems people are hungry for news from local government, and I'm more than happy to oblige!

Council meetings started again mid-January and there have been a number of issues and decisions that I think you might be interested in...
A welcome rethink

At the 10 Feb Council meeting, we voted to stop using the existing Major Developments Assistance Policy. This was the controversial policy that saw Hobart City Council provide a large amount of funds to Myer for its redevelopment in the city.

The old policy was activated when requests were received from developers of major city projects for financial assistance or incentives. In the case of the Myer deal, the assistance was tied up in ‘commercial in confidence’ clauses and kept out of public scrutiny.

The Council voted to replace this policy with something more modest, targeted, and transparent. The focus will be on limiting Council assistance to a time-limited rates freeze for the upgrading of a commercial property.
The ideas being discussed are to give priority to proposals that bring additional benefits to the city – for example, where a heritage building is refurbished, affordable housing above shops is built, or a development adds value to the public streetscape.

I will be advocating another key difference: that all recipients of Council assistance will be informed that the arrangements are transparent to the public. No more secretive deals.

But the new policy will only be as good as the discussion around it in the coming months. The plan is to have a new policy by May. If you have ideas that you would like to feed into this discussion, please email me on
ald.reynolds@hobartcity.com.au.
A boost for bees!

For quite a while, Hobart had a by-law that beehives could only be kept if they were 50 metres from a house. During the last Council, Bill Harvey moved a motion to get a report produced by the officers on Hobart's beekeeping regulations. This was a good move because the existing rules effectively outlawed beehives from the average-sized backyard in Hobart.

The report that eventually came back to a committee after the election proposed to simply retain the existing bylaws. This meant the ongoing use of the 50 metre rule...business as usual!

Amid a global bee crisis, I’m very aware of the keen and growing interest in beekeeping in Tasmania, Australia, and around the world. It didn’t take much research to realise that many more urban Councils than Hobart are proactively setting rules and programs that encourage urban beekeeping.

So I moved an amendment that our new bylaws remove the 50 metre rule and instead reflect the expert advice in the
Code of Practice for Urban Beekeeping in Southern Tasmania. This was voted for in Committee and then adopted unanimously by the full Council. We should now see a more bee-friendly Hobart, which is great for honey lovers and a healthy environment.
A new quarry for Salamanca?

In early February, Council voted to approve Ali Sultan’s new development proposal for Montpelier Retreat. This is the big carpark behind Salamanca Place that’s been empty for years.

It was hard to have much influence on this decision, coming to it very late in the process.  Over the last decade, many decisions have been made by people and organisations about this development. Some have not been good ones, including the decision by Tasmania’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) to not assess or regulate a massive subterranean excavation.

One of my major concerns with this development is the excavation of very hard bluestone (dolerite) to allow for five storeys (yes 5!) of underground car parks.  By the letter of State law, it should be classed as a quarry, given the amount of excavation material and the challenging nature of the operation. The development will produce more than 37,000 m3 (more than 100,000 tonnes) of excavated rock, which is five times greater than the minimum threshold that should trigger EPA assessment.

Concerns were raised with me that the excavation of five storeys below ground has the potential to damage the heritage buildings of the Salamanca area, due to the need for blasting the bluestone rock, the vibrations that will be generated, and tens of thousands of truck movements a year to remove the rock over a year or more.

I spoke up during the debate about my concerns for an unprecedented level of underground excavation in a historically important heritage, residential and tourist area. But despite all the talk in the media, as decision-makers we had little more than a week to scrutinise the details of this development, let alone negotiate the terms of the approval.

It may have been possible to vote for it if there could have been more negotiation, to reduce this excessive size of underground carparks. As it turned out, the vote fell 7 in favour and 4 against. I will stay in touch with residents and businesses in the area as they deal with this over the coming years.
Right to vote for residents

Another matter that I worked to amend recently was the Hobart City Council’s stance on the right to vote in local government elections. In response to ‘gaming’ of the General Manager’s Roll for electoral gain during the 2014 elections, the last Council voted to push for the removal of the current voting rights of the 10 percent of Hobart residents who are not yet Australian citizens.
 
We want a clean and democratic electoral roll, but policies have to be well considered, not reactive.
 
Resident 'non-citizens' are currently eligible to vote in local government elections in Tasmania – as they are in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia. Similarly, resident non-citizens can vote in local government elections in more than 40 countries – including New Zealand, the United States, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Venezuela.
 
In my work at
Multicultural Council of Tasmania, I often hear about the numerous barriers and delays that impact on how long it takes someone to become an Australian citizen with full suffrage rights. Some visa classes require people to be in Australia for four years before they can start the citizenship process. For others, there are a range of family or settlement reasons why they are reluctant to move to the formality of Australian citizenship in the first years of arriving.
 
None of these factors should diminish these peoples’ commitment to, engagement with and involvement in Hobart as their city of residence.
 
I was able to get agreement to improve the Council’s stance on this issue so that we are no longer advocating the disenfranchisement of people. There are better ways to fix up electoral rorting.
Love this street!  Arthur Circus

What do you think about the idea of closing off Arthur Circus in Battery Point to ‘rat-run’ traffic? It’s an idea that’s been raised and debated in Council recently.

Arthur Circus is unique – it’s the only circular road of its kind in the nation. Historically, Arthur Circus was originally a closed circle with entry and exit only from Hampden Road.  Mr Askin Morrison purchased land in Arthur Circus to provide wharf access to Hampden Road through Runnymede Street. This was prior to Hampden Road and Castray Esplanade being formed.

Now that section of roadway is available, perhaps Arthur Circus should be returned to a non-throughroad? Howl it down, or cheer from the rooftops...I’m interested to hear your reaction.
Myer redevelopment site
Photo: Andy Cunningham




 
Artist's impression of completed Myer building







 





 


 
Part of the proposed residential and carpark complex at 3 Montpelier Retreat
 


 

 






 
1903: a Hobart crowd gathers in Macquarie Street outside The Mercury building to see the results of the first election of the new Federation.














 
Part of Jarman's map of Hobart, 1858
Please stay in touch!
 

I'd love to hear your ideas and opinions, and receive your feedback on Council decisions.

Email me at
ald.reynolds@hobartcity.com.au
Call me on 0423222149
Write to me at Town Hall, Macquarie Street, Hobart 7001.
And please join my facebook page!


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