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May 092013

The following is a letter sent by Wayne Cameron of Bulimba Creek Catchment Coordinating Committee.

Hon. Andrew Powell,
Minister for Environment and Heritage

c.c. Hon. Ian Kaye MP Member for Greenslopes and Hon. Steve Minnikin MP Member for Chatsworth

Re: Proposed School Oval Asset Sales and Whites Hill College Sports Fields

Dear Andrew,

We are a not-for-profit Landcare and Catchment Committee operating in the Bulimba Creek area since 1997. Our charter, in part, is to protect the natural environment, public greenspace and support ecologically sustainable development.

Our membership is particularly concerned about this latest proposal to sell off open space in our city, which is apparently occurring citywide without public consultation or consideration of the city’s liveability and future open space needs.

The consistent lack of consultation and non-transparent nature of the proposal is not in the interest of the community or the environment and runs counter to pre-election commitments by the Premier. We believe it is not in the best interests of the Qld Government.

The short-sightedness of pursuing an economic gain does not consider the following facts:
1. Brisbane is a rapidly growing city, in population and urban infill development. Public Owned greenspace comprises only 19% of the city. This is in comparison to Sydney’s 43% and near 30% for Melbourne. So what is not used enough now, will be used more in the future.
2. Brisbane is known as the River City and Australia’s Most Biodiverse City. This provides the Clean Green City described in Brisbane City Council’s New Draft City Plan.
3. The Council’s 2026 Vision states: “By 2026 Brisbane will conserve its natural assets and surrounding regions, while meeting the demands of housing, roads and more services to accommodate a growing population”. It will do this by “Restoring 40% of mainland Brisbane to natural habitat and connecting environmental corridors”. Selling off greenspace is, therefore, contrary to the Council’s 2026 Vision.
4. A growing population will put more pressures on greenspace for recreation, amenity and the need for expanded services and infrastructure for the growing population. It does not make sense to be selling off green assets, now with these pressures yet to be fully applied.
5. To sell off sporting fields has a flow-on effect to all greenspace and this means a demand for sporting fields in 2020 will place even more pressure on our small network of natural areas – like Whites Hill Reserve and its fragile corridor network. Aggressive pressures are already in play with mountain bikes persistently seeking to use all the city’s nature reserves for their purposes, while there are emerging pressures from other sports as well requiring more open spaces.

The Whites Hill College proposal

The proposed sale of the 4.854ha oval on the south side of Samuel St will impact the school’s future potential to expand on its other grounds without losing its sporting field capacity.

The proposal will also cut a Brisbane City Council plan to link Whites Hill to Oates Hill and Bulimba Creek through this area (Whites Hill – Belmont Hills Plan 2000). This plan had our involvement, along with many people in the local community.

It also compromises the Council’s Squirrel Glider Corridor Action Plan for Bulimba Creek Catchment Areas, 2007 (Jones, Chambers, Canaris and Ingram). This plan proposed increasing environmental corridor viability by revegetation and fauna movement infrastructure across Samuel St and through the College. It also rated large trees on the oval highly for habitat and ecology.

We are a growing city with greenspace values and future open space needs and we ask you to please consider the ramifications of the sale of open space assets because of the likely detrimental effects to the community and its liveability, the environment and its values and the growing needs of recreation in the years ahead.

Our committee respectfully asks that you consider our request to abandon greenspace sales for the sake of the local and citywide aspirations for liveability in a Clean Green City.

Yours sincerely,
Wayne Cameron (Manager)

CC: Cr Adrian Schrinner, Hon. Kevin Rudd MP, Mrs Marg Dinte (WHSC P&C Assoc. President), Louise Orr (Brisbane Catchments Network Inc.)

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