LAKE MACQUARIE CITY COUNCIL
PROSPECTIVE COUNCILLORS FORUM
PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS FORUM HAS BE POSTPONED DUE TO THE DELAY IN COUNCIL ELECTIONS ANNOUNCED BY THE NSW GOVERNMENT. THE FORUM IS EXPECTED TO BE RESCHEDULED TO THE NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2021 TIMEFRAME.
The postponed Council elections of last year will now be held on Saturday 4th September this year. Westlakes residents will be asked to cast their vote for Mayor and four West Ward Councillors.
The Toronto Action Group (tag) has combined with other Westlakes community/sustainability groups to host a West Ward and Mayoral Candidates’ Forum both online and at the Toronto Multipurpose Centre on Tuesday 17th August 7-8:30pm. On-site capacity will be limited by Covid restrictions. Register to attend online https://west_ward_candidates_forum_aug_17.eventbrite.com.au
We won’t know until August 4th who the candidates will be. But we already know the issues that affect us. Some are very local (e.g. kerbs and footpaths) whilst others affect most of Westlakes (e.g. traffic, parking, lake access and loss of trees).
Council has made progress on environmental, social and economic health. The Toronto Foreshore Masterplan, the Walking and Cycling Strategy and the draft Lake Activation Strategy hold out hope of further improvements.
Nevertheless, there have been some huge frustrations. Not least were the wasted two years arguing over the proposed multi-storey apartment block on Toronto’s foreshore that the community was not asked about and never wanted. Increased building density is being poorly planned with more and more traffic clogging roads and chasing less parking space.
Behind all of this is an often fractured and strained relationship with the present Council and Councillors. Some ward Councillors have been reluctant to consult with their community. Wendy Harrison (retiring) has done so but with little support from her fellow Councillors.
It’s not just politics. The new organisational structure and attitude of senior Council staff have made community engagement much more difficult. Under the new structure, staff work in project teams across departments, many of which have been renamed and reinvented. Some staff appear to be happy with this arrangement, others not.
For residents it is now hard to find out who is responsible for what. Council has become opaque. For example, the Toronto Foreshore Masterplan was managed not by Planning or Parks but by Property & Business Development, while Rathmines Park masterplan was managed by Asset Management.
Residents are ‘consulted’ on a plethora of strategies and plans through the ‘shape.lakemac’ website. Their representations and submissions are ‘summarised’ in engagement reports, but it is usually hard to spot any changes made. Staff recommendations are put to Councillors, a few questions are asked, not necessarily answered, then the report is endorsed.
Is this ‘good governance’? Is the community being treated with respect? Are Councillors being treated with respect? Should ward Councillors actually support their communities on things that matter? Or should we just put up with the status quo?
Candid questions for the Candidates
The Candidates Forum will be an opportunity for community members to find out a little bit more about the people who want to represent us, their interests and their reasons for being our local representatives.
Do you have a question you’d like to ask them or an issue you’d like to hear their thoughts on?
The TAG team will be collecting and collating questions to pose to the candidates.
Send an email to email@example.com with your question, or use the TAG facebook group to pose a thought-provoker or post it to PO Box 329, Toronto.
Register to attend the Candidates Forum https://west_ward_candidates_forum_aug_17.eventbrite.com.au