By Kieran Adair
With City of Sydney Council due to begin meeting again on Monday the 16th, Clover Moore has signaled that transport, child care and affordable housing will be among her top priorities for the year ahead.
The completion of the city’s light rail and cycle networks feature heavily on the Lord Mayor’s transport agenda. “[The] light rail will reduce bus numbers, facilitate the pedestrianisation of a large part of George Street and allow for the completion of a world-class cycleway network,” Ms Moore told City Hub. She believes that both projects are crucial to solving the city’s growing problems with congestion, estimated to cost the city around $5 million a year, but it is unlikely that these efforts will be without controversy.
The construction of cycleways has drawn a raft of complaints from residents and businesses, concerned with noise, access issues, and the loss of parking. Critics of the light rail plan are concerned that the building phase which is due to start on April 26, may create widespread traffic delays across the city. “The result [of the construction] will be that all George Street trips will take that much longer,” Jim Donovan, spokesman for Action for Public Transport, told City Hub in December. “This will go on for four or five years until the light rail starts.”
Addressing the need for affordable housing in the City of Sydney is another area in which Clr Moore hopes to see progress this year. The City’s Sustainable Sydney 2030 plan, adopted in 2008, outlined clear commitments to deliver affordable housing but so far progress has been slow. The Council will be “conducting a Housing Diversity Forum early in 2015, followed by a report to present the outcomes. These two initiatives will inform the finalisation of a City of Sydney Housing Affordability Discussion Paper and Policy.” Ms Moore told City Hub.
Lastly, Ms. Moore intends to see through the delivery of a number of new childcare centres, in response to the increased number of young family’s living in the city. “Since January last year, we have approved 12 development applications that include a potential 718 new childcare places, while 18 development applications including 1,287 places are currently being assessed” Clr Moore said. The City is also developing six of its own childcare centres, which will create an additional 374 spaces for preschool children.
Along with these infrastructure projects Clr Moore hopes to continue focussing on culture and the arts, with a series of grants and affordable work spaces being made available for creative entrepreneurs and artists, sustainable growth and tourism, with the approval of new residential housing and hotel development, and the city’s commitment to decreasing carbon emissions by 50% by 2030.
City Hub speculated last year that the current term of Council which is due to end in 2016, may be Clover’s last as Lord Mayor. If this is true it makes her priorities in 2015 all-the-more significant to her legacy.
Changes to voting have given each business across the city two votes in the next election, making it likely that one of the more pro-business councillors Madla, Forster or Vithoulkas could be elected as the next Lord Mayor.
Clover was not worried about these changes, saying that her office has “good relations with the business community”. Instead, she was most concerned about the impact of WestConnex on the city and the State Government’s ‘Fit for the Future’ council amalgamations in Randwick and eastern suburbs.