Inner West Independent

Growth in community use indicates improving health of the Cooks River, survey reveals

The survey found the community has been using the Cooks River more, and the regular use has meant the community is noticing the changes of the river. Photo: Flickr/Martin7d2.

By EVA BAXTER

The Cooks River Community Values survey closed earlier this month.

The survey is part of a range of studies being undertaken as part of the development of ‘A Whole of River Plan’ known as the Cooks River Catchment Coastal Management Program (CMP).

The public consultation period was 30 July to 5 September and almost 1,200 people participated.

812 survey participants said that their boating or kayaking would not change if conditions were to improve around the waterways, and 101 people said they would do it more often.

Anston Ratnayake, Senior Community Engagement Officer of the Cooks River Alliance, told the Independent the results of the survey indicate that the community are seeing a positive, progressive move to it becoming a river that can one day be swum in.

The survey indicated the work the Cooks River Alliance has done to change the health of the river is having a positive impact and that through the pandemic, people have been able to use it more in various ways.

The survey found the community has been using the river more, and the regular use has meant the community is noticing the changes of the river.

Out of approximately 1,200 participants, 895 or 85% walk, run or cycle along the river. 623 people or 50% visit the parks, playgrounds, and sports fields on a regular basis.

Indigenous association

Nearly a thousand respondents said they want to see more Indigenous cultural representation along the river.

“They want to see more Indigenous cultural representation, stories being told, telling them more about how Indigenous people used the river, what they used it for, how they’re associated with the river.

“They’re asking for places to celebrate Indigenous culture and heritage,” Ratnayake said.

38% of participants were aged 35 to 49, 19% were 25 to 34 and 6% were aged 12 to 24.

Ratnayake said it was “very good to see that we were able to engage a population that going forward will impact the river and will be key decision makers over the next 10 years.”

A detailed report of the findings will be released as well as a report detailing the actions going forward based on the survey results.

The CMP is being coordinated by the Cooks River Alliance and its partners, Burwood Council, Bayside Council, City of Sydney, City of Canterbury Bankstown, Inner West Council, Strathfield Council and Sydney Water.

The NSW government’s 2016 Coastal Management Act (CM Act) requires local councils with land within coastal zones to prepare a coastal management program if directed to do so, to set a long-term strategy for the co-ordinated management of land within the coastal zone with a focus on achieving the objects of the CM Act.

The objects of the CM Act are to manage the coastal environment of NSW in a manner consistent with the principles of ecologically sustainable development for the social, cultural, and economic well-being of the people of NSW.

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