Submission to the City of Hobart Strategic Plan 2014-2019

March 2014

Nick Heath

General Manager

Hobart City Council

c/- hcc@hobartcity.com.au

 

Dear Mr Heath, 

By way of background, the South Hobart Sustainable Community was formed in 2007 and has successfully led a number of community-based projects, including bulk purchases of solar PV and hot water systems, creating a community mural on the Badminton Centre, and establishing a Community Garden. Please find below our group’s submission in relation to the City of Hobart Strategic Plan 2014-2019.

The SHSC has a mailing list of over 300 residents, and the Facilitators Group (that oversee the strategic direction of SHSC) has prepared this response on their behalf. We have also made our mailing list aware of the consultation process and invited them to contribute ideas to our submission or make their own submission.

Firstly we would like to thank the City of Hobart for the positive changes happening all the time in Hobart. The Hobart Rivulet Park, the Bushcare and Bush Adventures activities, the assistance provided to the Derwent Estuary Project, the on-road bike lane markings, the mountain bike track improvements, the kerbside food and green waste collection trial, the support of the South Hobart Community Garden and so many other projects happening in our neighbourhoods are inspired and worthy of commendation.

The strategic plan is thorough and includes many important strategic objectives. We feel that there are some gaps in the Strategic Plan relating to the Hobart 2025 Strategic Framework. They are listed below, for your consideration.

Priority Area of Activity - Economic Development, Vibrancy and Culture:

Outstanding and exemplary waste practices in businesses and households

No municipality can truly be considered ‘vibrant’ unless they are diligent and proactive with waste management.  We acknowledge the great work already done with waste in the City of Hobart. The waste team are highly skilled and motivated and we would love the City of Hobart to support them to take a more active and creative role in resolutely encouraging residents and businesses to stop landfilling recyclables (including flexible plastics) and compostables.

Businesses and households in Hobart need to understand that landfill is not an option for recyclables or organics. Based on recent Tasmanian studies, approximately 42% of kerbside rubbish is recyclable and a further 43% is compostable. Flexible plastics can also now be recycled via the supermarkets in Hobart, so only a very small percentage of urban or business waste needs to end up in landfill.

As an example, Launceston City Council is running a successful waste project to encourage great recycling rates (for example employing two people to check kerbside rubbish bins and provide pass or fail stickers) and other councils on the mainland encourage residents to compost their food and green waste (by providing compost bins, education, rebates for composting equipment, etc.). We note that Council has decided not to include a third kerbside bin for organics and believe that as a result, Hobart households should be taught how to manage their compostable wastes in their own backyards where possible.

Recommendations:

1.      That the City of Hobart runs a program of rebates (for compost bins, worm farms, compost, mulch, etc.), education and strong compliance enforcement to ensure that people learn environmentally responsible waste disposal habits. Despite a great deal of investment at the McRobies site, pollution from the site will be seriously and adversely affecting the water quality of the Hobart Rivulet for many decades to come (the same goes for any landfill and nearby water courses). It’s time to stop using landfill sites to bury recyclables and compostables (aka ‘resources’).

2.      That the City of Hobart provides (or subsidises) food and green waste collection for businesses and any households with little or no land (or no will to compost), contracted through the private company Eenee. This would have the benefit of providing a local fertiliser stream for Hobart households and growers.

3.      That the City of Hobart purchases an ‘In-Vessel Composting System’ to compost more organic wastes than it is currently doing at the McRobies site.  It could become an example for all Tasmanian Councils and businesses to visit and see in operation.  Local processing of organic waste helps reduce emissions related to transport costs and provides a local source of compost.

4.      That the City of Hobart improves the containment and treatment of leachate from McRobies gully, including the regular testing and transparent reporting of leachate discharge and overflow events.  The range of contaminants expected in the leachate from both the Wellesley Park tip site as well as the McRobies Gully Tip Site is a concern to the residents of South Hobart.  The understanding and treatment of such contaminants is recommended to a level commensurate with the Ontario Landfill Regulations as noted in the NEPM.

5.      That the City of Hobart recognises that whilst the Hobart Rivulet is not classified as a ‘recreational use’ area, numerous people and animals have direct exposure and water is ingested.  Given the poor water quality of the Hobart Rivulet partly as a result of point 4 above, public awareness of the dangers of exposure should be communicated by way of signs at access points, such as ‘Not suitable for ingestion or exposure’.

6.      That all schools (secondary and primary) in the City of Hobart are provided with the resources (human, budget, infrastructure resources) to achieve zero waste. There is no reason why schools cannot reach a zero waste target. Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show that young people (18-24yrs) are the least concerned about environmental issues than other age ranges (Sourced from the ABS - see Graph 3 - Persons concerned about environmental issues in Australia, by age group). This is a worrying trend; our young people need to learn how to be environmentally responsible (not apathetic) because they are this world’s future.

7.      That all government office buildings in the city (State, Federal and Council) are provided with as many recycling services as possible and then staff (including cleaners) provided with persistent (zero tolerance) education. This would need to occur in partnership with the relevant State or Federal Departments and/or the owners of the buildings.

8.      For both points above, bins would be provided, the lids of which would be colour coded to ensure that people understand what needs to go in each bin, no matter where they are. Grey for plastic film (all bags, plastic wrap, etc.), white for clean paper, beige for cardboard, blue for e‑waste (mobile phones, monitors, desktop PCs, laptops, printers, scanners), yellow for recycling and red for compost (nori roll and pizza boxes, serviettes, tissues, tea bags, paper towel etc.).

9.      That the City of Hobart uses creative ways to influence waste reduction. For example, like San Francisco, the City of Hobart could make another step towards greening the city by banning the sale of plastic water bottles on city-owned property. Another creative option would be to put conditions on events run within council areas so that they aim for zero/minimal waste in the same way as the Taste. For example, races such as the point to pinnacle need to be urged to use compostable cups and use a collection service to collect and compost (they used 26,000 plastic cups at the last event in November).

Priority Area of Activity – Urban Management:

An accessible city with better active transport connections
It is important that the municipality is interlaced with good active transport connections. Once again we would like to thank the City of Hobart for the sustainable transport advances we have seen and encourage further support for staff working in the area. It is important that primary school children can ride safely to school (we have all seen them swerve wildly to avoid something in their path). Equally, it is important that teenagers can skate safely into the city (we have all seen runaway skateboards, that could easily be controlled with a barrier to stop them entering the traffic flow), it is important that older/middle-aged people can feel empowered to ride their bikes to the shops (many 30, 40, 50 year olds have lost the confidence to compete with cars).

Bike riding for commuting purposes is currently a high risk sport. While marked cycle lanes are an improvement, it is preferable to provide separate grade facilities (aka “Copenhagen lanes”) if we want to encourage more of the community to ride (facilities should be able to be used by primary school children and old people too). Busy roads near schools and direct routes to the city need this work to ensure there are no deaths and injuries.

Recommendations:

1.      That the City of Hobart connects up bike lanes using Bicycle Tasmania's framework 'Building a cycling city: 2014' and always factor in 10 and 70 year old people using the facilities, to ensure that they are suitable for everyone (not just the ‘brave’).

2.      That the City of Hobart adopts the Healthy by Design planning guidelines developed by Premiers Physical activity council and the Heart foundation.

3.      That the City of Hobart improves public transport efficiency around peak times by supporting the State Government proposal to extend the bus lane from the junction of the southern outlet and Macquarie Street, north into Franklin Square.

4.      That the City of Hobart considers an exercise park similar to that recently installed at Bellerive Beach in addition to the bouldering balls at Tara Street in the Hobart Rivulet Park (we acknowledge a separate consultation is being conducted on this matter and also plan to contribute to that). As an alternative, a company called Replas currently uses flexible plastic collected at Coles supermarkets in Tasmania to produce recycled plastic ‘Exersite’ parks. One of these would be brilliant near the Anglesea/Weld Street Schools and Childcare. Not only would they be good for class groups and locals to use, but would also help people see the importance of recycling their flexible plastics. 

5.      That the City of Hobart encourages more young people to use the off-road bike routes (e.g. Hobart Rivulet Park track) by providing small jumps and activities to do along the way. We live in a concrete, built up environment. Let’s make the most of that. Concrete surfaces are brilliant to skateboard, scoot and ride on. Exersite stations along the way would be fun for the walkers/runners.

6.      Continue to create challenges for young (and older) people by continuing the great track work on the mountain. This will also have positive spin offs for the growing mountain bike tourism industry and beyond.

7.      That the City of Hobart continues to build the inner city population to reduce commuter congestion (and increase public safety).

Priority Area of Activity – Environment and Natural resources:

We acknowledge the fantastic work done by the City of Hobart in relation to enhancing the natural areas in the municipality, decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and working with businesses to decrease pollution entering our air, land and waterways. It is becoming more and more important for Councils’ to take on the function of environmental management and pollution control because local communities are most able to support/enforce/effect changes within their own municipality.  We commend the City of Hobart in particular, for including the priority area – ‘improve the environment of Hobart through improved monitoring and regulatory awareness’.

 

Recommendations:

1.      That the City of Hobart takes over more of the responsibility for local contaminated sites and develops a comprehensive list of all potentially contaminated sites and ensures that they are registered on the LIST. Those with a greater potential to cause environmental harm should be investigated further with the results also being included on the LIST.

2.      That the City of Hobart develops a detailed list of Level 1 industries with the ability to cause environmental harm, such as Electrical switchboard painting, laundromats, slipways, petrol stations, etc., and develops policies and robust incident response procedures for dealing with the associated pollutants.

3.      That the City of Hobart continues and extends its Bushcare work in the municipality. They are doing an amazing job and may be able to harness more help from the community to improve other bushland areas within the municipality.

4.      That the City of Hobart continues and extends its water quality monitoring and improvement programs (e.g. McRobies Gully stormwater (discharges to the Rivulet), urban stormwater, trade waste, capturing household stormwater in tanks connected to toilets and washing machines, etc.). Children love to play in their local streams and we are all inspired by healthy ecosystems.

5.      That the City of Hobart ensures that constituents are kept informed about pollutants in their environment and the appropriate risk avoidance behaviours. For example, discourage vegetable gardening downhill from petrol stations, old landfill sites, tanneries, breweries, mechanics, etc., where appropriate, and erect signage to remind people not to come in contact with the water in the Hobart Rivulet after large discharges from McRobies Gully enters the rivulet. 

6.      That the City of Hobart keeps abreast of water offtake from the rivulet (e.g. the recently approved Cascade water rights and other water uptakes from sub-tributaries) and the effect on the local ecology by ensuring requirements of reporting water uptake and flow to Council on a monthly basis.  A base environmental flow needs to be determined and communicated such that daily flow regimes can be managed online by Cascade are non-compliances addressed.

7.      That the City of Hobart reintroduces rebates to low income households (or alternatively residents in houses built prior to mandatory insulation regulations) who take action to reduce emissions (e.g. professionally installed insulation, solar hot water).

8.      That the City of Hobart introduces local laws to ensure that people keep their own pets in their own property. Many people in our bush fringed city enjoy wildlife visiting and would appreciate owners keeping their own pets (particularly cats) in their own properties (aka responsible cat ownership). Cats are lovely when in their own property, not when in other’s backyards or in the parks and bush lands hunting.

9.      That the City of Hobart continues to provide further bicycle parking, traffic calming, adjusting signage or curbs to improve walking/wheelchair/pram access, street furniture, street and park trees/plants. The City of Hobart could investigate offering partial crowd-funding for small projects in individual streets and suburbs to allow the budget to stretch further. (See Spacehive in the UK).

10.  That the City of Hobart provides incentives or streamlined approvals for businesses looking to install solar systems on unused roof or wall space (similar to Freiburg in Germany).

Priority Area of Activity – Strong, Safe and Healthy Communities:

We feel that the Strategic objectives listed are comprehensive. The City of Hobart works hard to deliver activities and infrastructure to create strong, safe and healthy communities. Thank you for running activities for Parks Week in our neighbourhood, South Hobart. It was clear from the predominance of local South Hobartians at the events, that people are more likely to participate in local events. Local events help create confident youth with their roots grounded in belonging.

Recommendations:

1.      That the City of Hobart supports our older youth through the provision of infrastructure such as jumps and challenges (for skateboards, scooters, bikes, even walkers) along transport routes and more skate parks. The South Hobart soccer field (Wellesley Park) is a great place for a BMX/pump track, Tara Street may be a great place for a small skate park and or pump track. We see that bouldering walls may be erected at Tara Street, which would be great. Allowing youth to stay in their own neighbourhood helps keep them safe.

2.      That the City of Hobart investigates doing Quality of Life (QOL) surveys of Hobart residents and use these to benchmark changes to the city (i.e. aim to increase QOL over the next five years and beyond). This has been done in New Zealand (Quality of Life survey).

3.      That the City of Hobart looks at adopting the Healthy by Design planning guidelines developed by Premiers Physical activity council and the Heart foundation

Priority Area of Activity – Governance:

We feel that the Strategic objectives listed for this priority area are comprehensive, and have nothing further to add other than to recommend that the City of Hobart reviews and improves the relationship with key members of the EPA to assist in environment incident response and regulation.


We thank the City of Hobart for inviting our feedback and trust it is helpful in revising this plan to a ‘final’ version. Please feel free to contact me via secretary@southhobart.org.au if you have any queries.

 

Yours sincerely

Ben Clark

President

 

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