The first round of the Government’s community consultations on the future of the Bays Precinct began last Wednesday in Balmain. The Government agencies and Sydney and Leichhardt Councils all presented their views for future uses.  Professor Jane Marceau – the sole community representative- gave a feisty response, challenging the closed approach of the agencies and calling for serious dialogue with the community and an innovative (rather than more of the same) vision for this strategic harbour site.
This consultation will be repeated in Glebe at St Scholastica’s on Wednesday night 23rd May at 6-9pm.
The Glebe Society urges members to attend – and to ask your neighbours/friends. If we are to have any influence on the outcomes we must have large numbers front these consultations: to demonstrate community interest; to ask the hard questions of the agencies and  to get our priorities firmly on to the agenda. This will not be easy (see the attached briefing on the Task Force by Lesley Lynch- an alternate TF community representative )  
Possible Questions to ask at the meeting:
There will be time set aside for the community to write questions for the agencies to answer. These questions are recorded. I attach a few questions on hot issues relating to the Bays which it would be useful to have reaffirmed.
The murky lease Issue
We are well acquainted with the scandalous secrecy with which agencies/ministers have allocated leases for publicly owned lands/ harbour in the past. The potential for corruption from such secrecy is self-evident. Jane Marceau has been trying for months to get accurate and precise information about the 27 (or so) existing leases in our Bays – with singular lack of success. In response to questions at the Balmain consultation, the chairperson of the Task Force did promise this would be made available ‘soon’. How difficult can it be? We should keep up the pressure on this issue.
Why has our representative on the TF not been able to access basic information, that surely should be public, about actual (not possible) start and end dates for leases on publicly owned sites in the Bays?
Could maritime detail the public consultation that was conducted before the (apparent) 50 year leases were granted on B1 and B2 sites in Blackwattle Bay. When were these leases granted?
Could Ports/Maritime confirm or deny that despite the 2020 cap negotiated after intensive community involvement, that there have been private assurances given that the lease for Baileys refuelling facility in
White Bay will be continued beyond 2020?  If so what consultation was there with the community on this?
Can ports/maritime indicate whether they have already provided advice to government about the future demolition (or partial) demolition of the old Glebe Island Bridge.
Planning  Principles
Could Ports/Maritime/Planning agencies indicate if there are any of the community  planning principles  -as embodied in the CRG principles and the similar principles endorsed by the City of Sydney and Leichhardt Councils – that they do not support? If there are – which ones?   
Community Priorities
The Community will be  asked to identify priorities for the Bays. I list some that have strong community support, but are ignored by agencies and government. It would help to have them affirmed. You may also  want to add others.
1.       Government commitment to the strong Principles identified by the CRG and wider community as the basis for all future planning decisions – especially re a halt on alienation of public ownership through sale or long term lease  
2.       No more one off developments or long term leases or lease extensions before the principles and a strategic plan for the whole Bays Precinct is prepared and approved
3.       No approval of new development activities without prior and adequate  transport planning – including public transport.
4.       A fundamental change in attitude and practice by the agencies – end the secrecy in planning/leasing activities, break out of the patronising view of community, adopt  transparency in dealings re publicly owned  foreshore lands and enter into serious consultation and honest dialogue with the community before making decisions about publicly owned foreshore lands and harbour.
5.       Planning decisions take account of the needs of residents of the densely populated surrounding areas and ensure activities are compatible with their amenity.
Click here to read further background information on the issue.