The final Captain Oldrey District Sports Park Landscape Masterplan 2018 (the Masterplan) will be presented to Council for adoption at their upcoming Ordinary Council meeting of November 27th 2018. In the report, recommended for adoption, the Council staff advise that the draft Masterplan was placed on public exhibition from 12 September to 10 October 2018 stating that "the Masterplan provides a framework for the development of Captain Oldrey Park in line with Recreation and Open Space Strategy (ROSS) 2018 Action C2, to ensure that usage capacity is increased and native vegetation elements are retained and managed where practical." The report goes on to say "Implementation of the Masterplan will deliver the vision for Captain Oldrey Park ‘to provide a quality outdoor multi-sport and community venue that is recognised for its regular sporting events and community recreation opportunities’. The Masterplan provides a basis to guide the future development and operations of Captain Oldrey Park. It also provides an evidence base to inform the allocation of Council resources as well as external funding applications for site development." Staff advise, in regards to community consultation that "Similar to the development of the ROSS 2018 and the two previous landscape masterplans presented to Council, the initial Masterplan research and preliminary engagement was undertaken in 2016-17 by consultants, ROSS Planning Pty Ltd. Further engagement with key user groups and internal stakeholders was undertaken by Council staff in 2017-18 to expand on the consultant’s initial findings. Nineteen (19) public submissions were received during the public exhibition period and one (1) submission a week later." The report also states that "Council staff also convened a meeting with stakeholders from each of the identified user and community groups during the public exhibition period to discuss the draft plan. As a result of the public exhibition period, it is proposed that six actions be amended, minor changes be made to representations on the landscape design, and a number of text changes be made to more accurately capture issues." Of interest is the statement by Council staff in the delivery of the report that they now recommend for adoption is "Implementation of the Masterplan will positively impact on community wellbeing, health and safety by providing a quality sport and recreation venue that can support both physical activity, community participation and social interaction for all ages and abilities." While staff advise the Councillors that "Nineteen (19) public submissions were received during the public exhibition period and one (1) submission a week later" in their report they fail to advise the public how many of these were favourable or opposing. Below is just one of the nineteen submissions. This one is from Dr Owen Cartledge. I provide this submission as an environmental ecologist. I am qualified in this field with a PhD and have worked in and published from university departments of resource management, environmental science, soils, and botany, a state department of agriculture and the National Capital Development Commission in Canberra. I express my utmost concern about the Captain Oldrey Park proposal. The Draft Masterplan is responding to the wrong question. The executive Summary 'recommends a number of facility upgrades and expansions while retaining and maintaining native vegetation where practical. With a focus on the expansion of the sports facilities, the Masterplan ignores the more significant economic and social benefits of preserving and enhancing the significant natural assets that are threatened by this expansion. The NSW Office Environment and Heritage lists Bangalay Sand Forest ,Sydney Basin and South East Corner Bioregions as an endangered ecological community. The Bangalay Forest, its understory and soils have evolved over thousands of years. It is the climax community of a sand dune succession. Many of the individual cycad plants are hundreds of years old. This forest is rare in a built up area and contiguous to an increasing population. These issues must be considered in the Masterplan for this site, the fact this has not been addressed is a disturbing oversight. I strongly recommend the Council consider the maintenance and passive utilisation of natural vegetation at Captain Oldrey Park, and the expansion of sports facilities at another more suitable site. The Masterplan must consider an appropriate environmental assessment of this site. I recommend that the council publish any environmental studies undertaken to ensure full community transparency as to how these issues are being considered. If these studies have not been undertaken then they must be expedited to inform any future proposals for this land. The proposed parking, roads and an additional oval would remove 65% to 80 per cent of the Bangalay forest at this site. In responding to my speech to Council on this subject on the 11 September, the General Manager of the Council suggested that "The vast majority of the existing vegetation onsite will be retained " This is only true if the extra oval to be built on this site does not come to fruition. The proposal for this oval must be incorporated in any assessment of the potential damage and loss of vegetation effected by this Plan. It would be a gross misrepresentation not to include the oval in any calculations of environmental degradation. There are many examples of populations seeking passive recreation in forest communities. Kings Park in Perth, and the new National Arboretum in Canberra, and locally at the Botanic Gardens. People seek out plants, parks and forests—Canberra Nature Park comprises thirty three separate areas. It is widely recognised in best practice urban planning and development that it is not sufficient to have isolated instances of nature, but rather we must preserve and build connected ecosystems, 'green grids', through our urban populations to provide equitable access to these assets for the health and wellbeing of our communities. This proposal puts this at risk and reflects a poor understanding of the value of those natural assets to be lost to bitumen and a sports field. Any effective cost benefit analysis that understood the broader economic and social benefits of these rare instances of natural habitat in urban areas, would see this proposal dismissed, where the costs to the community will far outweigh the benefits of sports facilities that should, and can, be accommodated elsewhere. There is significant scientific literature on forests, walking tracks, and the health benefits to accrue from the provision of these services through nature, particularly in urban areas. Improvements to people's immune systems, reduction in instances of diabetes, heart issues and better general health have been found in those communities proximate to natural systems and assets. People walk through these areas for respite, rejuvenation and rehabilitation. The Green Building Council of Australia, in its recent report, Building with Nature: prioritising ecology and biodiversity for better buildings and cities clearly demonstrates the case for preserving and improving natural assets as they exist, particularly within existing urban areas, for these very reasons. Page 1 states: 'This masterplan has been developed to incorporate ideas and feedback from the community.' I urge more detailed consideration of the community meeting held at Broulee School about six months ago. The feedback at that meeting was very much at variance with this document which fails to account for those perspectives provided. Real community engagement should demonstrate how Council responds to these views, not ignore them. The Draft Masterplan appears to be serving the needs and wants of sports people and business. The ecological and environmental losses, the losses of a piece of natural infrastructure to the broader community, are dismissed as a mere consideration 'where practical'. Council should not be asking how we expand sports into this land, but need to ask the alternative question: What is the best use for this land? The implementation of the plan being considered would be another step towards taking the 'nature' out of the Eurobodalla Nature Coast.
Video above: Ordinary Meeting of Eurobodalla Council Date: 11 September 2018 Owen Cartledge speaking to the Agenda Item: CAR18/031 Captain Oldrey Sports Park Landscape Masterplan