Newsletter no.4 from Ald Anna Reynolds - 29 May 2015
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Hello from Town Hall!

Since my last newsletter, I've been lucky to visit New York for a couple of weeks to spend some time with my younger sister. While it was a personal trip (note: no travel expenses paid by Council!), I am curious about how Councils work in other cities ... so I made a few appointments and learned some great things from the people I met.
Like my counterpart Mark Levine, Chairman of the NYC Council Parks Committee. His park portfolio covers 29,000 acres, compared to approximately 8,000 acres of bushland and parks managed by Hobart City Council.

Of course, we are very different cities.
Central Park alone has a vast budget of $57 million a year! A lot of our parks acreage is taken up by kunanyi/Mount Wellington. And a lot of our bushland management budget covers costs like fire management.
A people-friendly Big Apple

There’s a quiet revolution happening in many cities around the world, driven by a movement to rethink how we use urban spaces. New York is no exception. For such a vast bustling metropolis, I was impressed how the New York City Council’s Transport Department works to give the community more say and involvement in their local streets.

I went to the opening of a ‘Neighborhood Plaza’ in Brooklyn, where the Council works with a suburban community to turn part of a street dominated by traffic into a meeting place for conversation and events.

What’s great about this
Plaza Program is that the process isn’t too complicated – in agreement with the community, the Council closes a few parking spots or a traffic lane to create the plaza within hours. With a lick of paint, some planter boxes, tables, and chairs, the transition is quick and affordable.

Walking kilometres every day, I was impressed with how New York treats its pedestrians. Cars actually stopped at Give Way signs and waited for me to cross. Lights are timed to give people heaps of time to cross safely.

For example, the lights at Madison Ave are go for pedestrians for more than 30 seconds. Compare this with the busy crossing at the intersection of Hobart's Davey and Murray Streets that gives us about 5 seconds to get across before the red starts flashing! 

My website has a longer article with more information.
Our Heritage City

As of 20 May 2015, the city of Hobart has a new planning scheme. This has meant an expansion of places listed on the Council’s heritage register, identified in 13 heritage studies commissioned by the Council over the past 15 years (these are available here, scroll to the bottom).

The effect of heritage listing is that the place should be conserved (unless there are overriding circumstances), but any new development or modifications can be made as long as it’s in keeping with the heritage values of the place. 

The Property Council of Australia expressed fears that heritage listings could reduce property values. I don't agree, and nor do others that have looked into this question. Here’s what they say: "Heritage property will only become more valuable over time, because, quite simply, there will be less of it over time."

The Australian and New Zealand Property Journal: "based on over 30 previous studies, it appears that generally heritage legislation does not have a negative impact on the property value".

And a Heritage Tasmania survey of real estate agents found they "supported the view that heritage listing generally has little impact on residential property values."
Battery Point scheme ends

The new planning scheme also replaces the Battery Point planning rule book that has successfully protected the heritage values of this iconic area since 1979.

An independent heritage advisory committee was mandated in the Battery Point rules. It met regularly to provide an expert perspective for staff and Aldermen from outside the Council. This body no longer exists, but I think Hobart still needs an independent advisory body to advise and assist the Council to safeguard our heritage.

I will take a motion to Council in the next few weeks to replace the old Battery Point-focused heritage group with a Hobart-wide heritage advisory group. Many cities around Australia have similar groups, and I hope the majority of Hobart's Aldermen agree that we need one too.
South Hobart tip life extended

As a resident of South Hobart, I get the impression that most people expect the McRobies Gully Landfill site will close in 2017. The tip has been a feature of South Hobart since the 1970s, but as one resident said to me recently: “South Hobart has given its suburb and its streets for the tip for a long time, and we think it’s time we had a rest from it.”

There’s concern about the truck traffic in South Hobart and its impact in making the neighbourhood feel like an industrial thoroughfare. On the other hand, the community loves the Resource Tip Shop and values being the recycling hub for Hobart.

Over the last few years there have been discussions at Hobart City Council about extending the life of McRobies Gully Landfill. I have only learned of this since being elected to Council last year, and I’m concerned that many recent decisions haven’t been discussed with South Hobart as the host community.

The Council has applied to the Tasmanian Environmental Protection Authority to increase the approved height of the landfill profile for the McRobies Gully site from 184 metres to 200 metres. On current trends, an extra 16 metres of landfill height will extend the life of the site until 2030.

During a recent Council discussion about the tip, I moved an amendment to ask that Council officially inform key South Hobart community and business groups of its current discussions with the EPA on extending the life of the landfill. This was not supported by a majority of Aldermen, which was disappointing. However, I intend to inform people about the plans myself, so the community can discuss its view about this.
Please let me know what you think.
How to engage with Council?

Alder-people like myself can of course be the first point of call for an idea or a complaint, but there are other ways you can raise issues with the Council...

Under the Local Government Act, Council is required to provide a public question time. A few of us have asked for a review of our current procedures because asking a question of Hobart City Council is a bit more complicated than some other Tasmanian Councils. This is the
current procedure, and it’s one way to raise your idea or concern in front of full Council.

Also allowed for by law is your right to approach the Chair of a Committee and request the opportunity to make a representation to Council. This is not currently explained on Council’s website, but it is a way to take a presentation on an issue or idea to a more specialised Committee. There are
seven committees that meet monthly.

Finally you can use a petition, which must be set out in a
particular format, and most effective if your petition clearly calls on the Council to do something specific. Something not well known, but potentially useful: a petition can request Council to pay for the organisation of a public meeting on the topic if 1,000 people sign your petition.
The NYC Plaza Program aims to ensure that all New Yorkers live within a 10-minute walk of quality open space.
After a few hours, a disused area in Brooklyn was transformed into this plaza.

Six times longer to safely cross a NYC street than a Hobart street.





Landfill site tipped to stay, at a price (Mercury, 29 May)

Prof Lesley Hughes on climate change impacts

There's a special event coming up at UTAS that you're welcome to attend. Prof Lesley Hughes from The Climate Council will give a public you can see the premiere screening of a short film (sneak preview here) about the amazing efforts of three Tassie trail runners on behalf of The Climate Council. If you can, please donate to their cause. Join the event on facebook, and invite your friends.
See you at 6pm
, Tuesday 2 June at the Stanley Burbury theatre, UTAS.
Please stay in touch!

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

Email me at
Call me on 0423222149
Write to me at Town Hall, Macquarie Street, Hobart 7001.
And please join my facebook page.

Thanks for being part of my mailing list!
Previous editions:
Newsletter 1 (Jan 2015)
Newsletter 2 (Feb 2015)
Newsletter 3 (April 2015)

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