Mayor Jennifer Anderson
‘2075’ Editor Lisa Goodhand caught up with Mayor Jennifer Anderson this month during the lockdowns, to learn what she has been up to and what new developments are taking place in St Ives.
It was good to see a number of initiatives online developed on the Kur-ring-gai Council website, can you tell us about that?
MA: It's something that council staff have been working on since the pandemic started, which I had the pleasure of participating in when I was filmed reading children's stories to our young people. It was such a delight to be able to do that. It certainly took me back to my early career working in Lane Cove Public library.
I am proud of the way our staff have been able to offer as many essential services as I can through online methods.
How has COVID-19 impacted your work regime?
My normal day during COVID is basically handled remotely by responding to emails and phone calls. I've always been a councillor, right from my election in 2006, who has made herself available to our residents.
The only time I have been going into the office is for essential matters, such as the signing of documents that have to be hand-signed, or for monthly council meetings.
What doesn't go on anymore is the vast array of community events that I would normally have attended. That is a great loss from my perspective, because I've always very much valued more informal interactions with members of the community.
There are some community members that would feel very ostracised because they are not online or social media savvy, what support is available for them?
Kur-ring-gai Neighbourhood Centre is certainly still undertaking as much as they can in a face-to-face, COVID-safe way to help vulnerable residents who need assistance, like being transported to medical appointments or help with grocery shopping.
We have also been encouraging our community and neighbours to check on those surrounding them in a COVID-safe way to identify if any of them, especially their elderly neighbours, need any support, and to alert us so that we can provide proper assistance to them.
Can you share with us some recent council activities that are taking place in St Ives?
Despite the impact of COVID on the economy, we have managed to maintain a strong financial position in Counsil. We are one of the only councils in New South Wales to have met the State Government's criteria for financial sustainability.
During this time, I'm very proud of our open space acquisition strategy that's delivered 27,500sqm of new open space for the community. I believe this is a massive achievement for Ku-ring-gai, and for the future of all our residents.
Also, dealing with our draft housing strategy has been successfully undertaken with the completion of that in accordance with the community's wishes; that residents wanted our existing local environment plans and the capacity currently within those to be utilised first for the development, before thinking about any future rezoning. So, I'm pleased to say that was the resolution of the council.
In St Ives we’ve made a lot of progress on various projects, including the commencement of work on the Youth Precinct, which will be a wonderful recreation precinct with a new children's playground and skate park. It will have a central promenade, walking facilities with the surrounding parks with paths, seating, children’s facilities, landscaping and improvements to the public toilets.
There is also the St Ives’ Community Youth Centre, which has also undergone substantial renovations. It was due to open in July, but under the current lockdown rules it’s not open to the public yet. Renovations include meeting rooms, kitchen facilities and storage, and it has been upgraded with furniture and lighting.
Also, we have agreed as a council to proceed with the preparation of a DA for two additional indoor basketball courts at the St Ives indoor sports centre. When that is all built, there will be a total of four indoor courts available for use by the community outside school hours and by the school during school hours.
And, of course, there’s the wonderful St Ives Showground. It was the recipient of government grants worth $1.7 million in 2020 as part of COVID grants that were offered across the state. It also received an additional council contribution of $1.8 million from our budget.
With this money, we have created a new regional playground there, with an extensive range of works, including resurfacing and upgrading of the main arena loop road in the parking bay, fencing, softball servicing, signage for the new playground, refurbishment of the amenities’ block near the playground (making it accessible to the change rooms), upgrades to the kitchenette in the Louise Lennon building, improvements to the Douglas Pickering Pavilion, and rebuilding of the kiosk, which is also used as an information centre for major events.
I understand the Council election voting day has been changed, is that right?
Yes, the original date, which was the 4th September, has now been postponed until the 4th December. (You can find more information at the following link krg.nsw.gov.au/elections)
How are you keeping yourself fit and healthy outside of work?
I certainly enjoy the walks around our local area and on the weekend I was at Lindfield on Trion Road. There is a wonderful soldiers’ memorial there, and it was a beautiful day weather-wise. It was wonderful to see a lot of community out and about in a COVID way.
Neighbourhood Media would like to thank you for your time today, especially when we know how busy you are.
Thank you very much for your time and congratulations on a great local publication.