Message from the Mayor

Published on 17 May 2024

Mayors message 2023 Sam Ngai

Read the update from our Mayor Sam Ngai about what is happening in Ku-ring-gai.

Mayor's message 17 May

At Ku-ring-gai we believe that housing increases must be supported by infrastructure plans that are respectfully consulted with the community and appropriately funded.

But despite all efforts to negotiate reasonable terms on Transport Oriented Development (‘TOD’), the NSW Government has imposed 20,000 new dwellings at Gordon, Killara, Lindfield and Roseville station. As context, the former government required 4,000.

A second set of ‘Low- and Mid-Rise’ changes will be imposed on other suburbs in July.

We certainly welcome new residents to the area, but they will not have the infrastructure to give them the life they deserve – and as a Council we play a role in their wellbeing.

Last week Council voted unanimously to identify infrastructure scenarios that support the imposed TOD uplift. We will consult the community in the coming nine months.

However, the infrastructure will not be properly funded. These 20,000 households will pay the State over $210 million in Housing Contributions. In my meetings with the Planning Minister he did not commit a single cent to local infrastructure. Instead our future residents will fund projects out west.

Council has also been quietly acquiring land to support the open space and active transport needs of our future residents, with Cameron Park being an example. However the sudden imposition of the TOD has resulted in cost escalations by tens of millions in ratepayer funds. I had pre-empted this since November through multiple requests for a 12-month extension, but the Planning Minister did not afford this to Ku-ring-gai despite giving other councils similar extensions.

Under these unjust circumstances, Council unanimously voted last week to take legal action against the State Government. The decision is not taken lightly and is not our preferred path, but it is supported by legal advice on prospects. If successful, there will be significant savings in infrastructure costs. We will keep you updated on this matter.

Next week sees the start of National Reconciliation Week and the Gai-mariagal Festival, which aims to improve our understanding of the culture of First Nations people.

As part of National Volunteer Week we will host movie days to thank our hundreds of hard working local volunteers. On 22 May (Wear Orange Wednesday) we will also light up the Council Chambers in orange to thank our SES Volunteers.

Mayor Sam Ngai

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3 May

I am delighted to announce that David Marshall has been appointed as Council’s General Manager. David joined Ku-ring-gai in 2013 as Corporate Services Director. During the last seven months as Acting General Manager David has proven himself as a responsive leader, with the goal of making our Council a high performing and customer focussed organisation.

The recruitment process was highly competitive and we were impressed by the quality of talent available in the local government sector. We see David as the best person for the role and we are looking forward to working with him in the future.

This week has seen the NSW government announce changes to planning legislation which will usher in Transport Oriented Development around Gordon, Killara, Lindfield and Roseville railway stations.

While the government has made small adjustments regarding site consolidation and floor space, the underlying issues of infrastructure, urban tree canopy and heritage remained unresolved.

Our Council’s concerns regarding the urgent need for infrastructure to address population growth have not been addressed – nor were they addressed by Planning Minister Paul Scully when I met with him yesterday.

I made it clear to the Minister that infrastructure must accompany any drive to increase housing density in Sydney.

From future Ku-ring-gai residents, the state government will reap hundreds of millions on all this new development. But to date not a single cent has been committed to providing local open space, schools, roads and hospitals that are so badly needed as a result of this housing policy. Other councils are in the same boat.

You can read the Council’s media release in full here.

The Council’s delivery program, budget and proposed frees & charges for the 2024-2025 financial year are on public exhibition for comment until Thursday 16 May.

I’d encourage all residents have their say on how we will be spending ratepayers’ money in the coming year. The Council will meet in June to review public comments and decide spending priorities.

Mayor Sam Ngai

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19 April

We were all shocked by the awful stabbings at Bondi Junction and Wakeley, and for some this news hits close to home. Please look out for each other and if you are seeking help, you can call services such as Lifeline (13 11 14), Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800) or Beyond Blue (1300 22 4636). You can also sign a condolence book for the Bondi victims.

At this week’s Council meeting we took a stance against the Government’s housing policy which gives developers free rein. This is important not only for our community, but people everywhere in NSW. I want to make it clear that our Council is not opposed to development – but it must be well planned and accompanied by infrastructure such as schools, hospitals, transport, and open space. You can read my Mayoral Minute on this topic here.

Councillors also voted unanimously to fast track an Affordable Housing Strategy for Ku-ring-gai. We recognise there are barriers for essential workers such as teachers and nurses to live and work in our area, and this Strategy will contribute to a solution.

Other decisions include the community use of former lawn bowling sites, and the development of a Reconciliation Action Plan.

Next Thursday is ANZAC Day and our community is commemorating the day with several services and ceremonies. I will be attending some of these starting with the dawn service at Roseville Memorial Park. The ANZAC spirit lives on strongly in our community and it’s a chance for us all to reflect on the commitment and sacrifice of those who serve. Full details of all ANZAC Day events.

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5 April

I am keen to share some of Council’s improvements in recent months.

Council recently undertook a customer service audit, and the review identified improvements to our training, procedures and systems which will lead to more timely responses in the coming months.

Residents have also shown concern about the ongoing loss of tree canopy and habitat destruction. While State law limits the scope of Council’s response, we have recently introduced order provisions under the EP&A Act to require replacement planting of illegally removed trees, with regular follow-ups and fines if the order is breached.

We have identified new methods which may significantly bring down the cost of maintaining our ageing stormwater systems. We expect overall savings in our infrastructure backlog of close to $100m. This will put less strain on future spend, and more detail will be provided in the coming months. 

Internally, Councillors are also getting better follow-up to their queries, regular activity updates, and a proactive approach to regulatory change.

I know that there is further scope to improve, and we must push forward.

With school holidays rapidly approaching, we have some great activities organised over the next few weeks. Whether your child is sporty or artistic, check out the school holiday programs below and book early if you can. To wrap up, our Library has an exciting line up of renowned personalities in April including tennis legend Jelena Dokic, MasterChef winner Julie Goodwin and acclaimed journalist Grantlee Kieza. More details are on our website.

Mayor Sam Ngai

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22 March

Our Council receives regular feedback from angry residents about the illegal removal of trees on private property. On Tuesday 26 March, 6pm-8pm, we will be holding a forum to hear your experiences and insights, discuss the challenges, and share with you our initiative to introduce legally enforceable tree replacement orders. The community forum will be held in Gordon, and you can register your interest on our website.

The Ku-ring-gai Heritage Festival is an opportunity to explore the history of our beautiful area. It takes place from 18 April to 19 May and you can book into events online. We are also helping owners of heritage properties to care for their properties through our heritage grants, with applications open now til 13 May. More information is available on our website.

We recently met with the State Planning Minister to discuss options for supporting greater housing diversity. Unfortunately, the timeframe and approach offered by the Minister were not considered to be in line with community expectations and so Ku-ring-gai will seek an alternate approach to meet these objectives. We will share more in the next edition of Enews.

Many in our community will be celebrating Easter, Passover, Holi, Ramadan and Nowruz. On behalf of Council I wish you all an enjoyable and peaceful time with family and friends.

Mayor Sam Ngai

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8 March

Over the weekend, hundreds of volunteers came together for Clean Up Australia Day. I was amazed by how much rubbish we collected and thank our volunteers for improving the environment.

On Wednesday, Council held an International Women’s Day Forum which was fully booked out. The day started with a youth workshop aimed at giving voices to young people, and it was followed by round table discussions on structural barriers, lifelong financial education and the carers' economy.

We are also hosting a Seniors Festival this month with information sessions, activities and excursions aimed at giving our seniors opportunities to engage with the community. More information is on our website.

We received over 5,300 responses to our community survey on the NSW Government’s housing policies. The survey showed that while many wanted more housing diversity in Ku-ring-gai, three-quarters were against the State’s policies in their current form. I was surprised to see that the three-quarter opposition remained the same when focussing on responses from younger residents and apartment dwellers. What this says to me is that we have a community that values access to shops, services, parks and schools – access that is only achievable with proper planning and funding for infrastructure.

If you feel strongly about these rushed housing policies, residents have begun to mobilise and would appreciate your support. There is a rally outside Parliament House on Tuesday, and our elected representatives for Davidson and Wahroonga have also organised petitions to present to parliament. To show your support, more information is on our website.

Mayor Sam Ngai

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22 February

The NSW Government’s imminent housing policies remain a talking point for our residents. The proposed changes will have negative impacts on our LGA that cannot be understated.

At a recent meeting with other Northern Sydney mayors, we agreed that while we will provide more housing, councils should choose where the homes go and they need to be supported by appropriate infrastructure. We are calling the State Government to defer the rushed housing policies, to work with councils, consult residents, and update the strategic plans for each LGA. I have also written a letter to the NSW Premier to discuss Ku-ring-gai’s specific issues, however have yet to receive a reply.

Please note that tomorrow (Friday 23 February) is your last chance to make a submission to the NSW Government about the new housing policies, and we encourage you to have your say. Click here to go to the Planning Portal and enter your submission.

The Lunar New Year festival has been a resounding success over the past few weeks with residents actively engaging in the events planned by Council. Congratulations to everyone involved in making the Year of the Dragon celebrations so special.

On Sunday 3 March Clean Up Australia Day gives residents a chance to roll up their sleeves and give Ku-ring-gai a shine. Council is encouraging residents to register at Clean Up Australia and enjoy the day with their local neighbourhood. Council will be around to the registered sites after the event to take away all of the rubbish collected by our residents.

The Seniors Festival begins on 6 March and will run for the majority of the month with plenty of exciting and informative events planned. From day trips to the Japanese Gardens in Gosford to a historical visit to La Perouse, aged-care information sessions, volunteer expos, a silent movie classic and much more, the festival is set to be an engaging month for our older residents.

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9 February

February is upon us and the potential impacts of the NSW Government’s proposed housing policies remain at the forefront of our minds. Last month almost 800 residents registered for a special information session hosted by council staff, with the chambers hitting maximum capacity. Our residents appreciated the depth of information provided and we have had other councils follow suit in organising sessions for their own residents. Information from this session can be found at krg.nsw.gov.au/housinginfosession.

On Monday evening Council held an extraordinary meeting to discuss a further response to the NSW Government’s housing policies. Concerned about the prospect of drastic rezoning in April with no consultation, Councillors voted unanimously to take action against the State’s plans. In short, it was considered inappropriate to uplift the populations in each of Roseville, Lindfield, Killara, and Gordon to match Chatswood’s without appropriate urban planning, infrastructure and services to support. There were also concerns about respect for existing heritage and the environment. Council would like to see the NSW Government engage in urban planning to discuss what can realistically be delivered.

With the Lunar New Year, Council is hosting a range of activities in the Gordon Library including Chinese folk dancing, a calligraphy workshop, and try on of traditional Chinese opera costumes. There will also be an 8-week Tai-Chi program in St Ives, focussed on gentle exercise and balance movements. Finally, a Lunar New Year food festival will be held on Friday 16 February from 5pm at the St Ives Village Green. More information is found in the email below, as well as on our website at krg.nsw.gov.au/lunarnewyear.

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23 January

I hope you’ve all enjoyed the festive season and are looking forward to a positive year ahead.

St Ives Showground will be hosting a summer fair on Thursday 25 and Friday 26 January featuring food trucks, fireworks, amusement rides, an animal nursery and children’s movies.

On the morning of Friday 26 January over 200 people from 38 countries will be taking the pledge to become citizens at a special Australia Day ceremony at Knox Grammar School. The winners of the Ku-ring-gai Local Citizen of the Year Awards will also be announced at this event.

In the afternoon between 1pm and 5pm the Ku-ring-gai Fitness & Aquatic Centre will host a pool party featuring a BBQ, face painting, free entertainment and a poolside DJ. Entry is by gold coin donation and no bookings are required.

The West Pymble Bicentennial Club will also be running a day of festivities with burgers, drinks and barefoot bowls from midday until the evening. Bookings are advised for this event.

The NSW Government has invited residents and Council to provide feedback on its housing policy changes that will substantially change Ku-ring-gai’s population, amenity and character.

With this limited window for residents and councils to provide feedback to the NSW Government, I urge residents to consider the implications and provide your feedback. More information on the proposed changes and links to Council’s survey and the Planning Portal can be found on our website here.

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16 January

The NSW Government has invited residents and Council to provide feedback on housing policy changes that will substantially change Ku-ring-gai’s population, amenity and character.

The state-wide changes will allow dual occupancies in low density residential zones on block sizes of 450sqm. This also means that a 900sqm block can have four homes.

Terraces, townhouses, manor houses (two storey apartment blocks) and 6 to 7 storey mid-rise apartment blocks will be permitted within walking distance of railway stations and possibly other local centres.

While supporting a greater population, these changes will see an increase in traffic and a reduction in urban tree canopy in the coming years.

Feedback on these changes is sought by 23 February.

The NSW Government has also announced plans for ‘Transport Oriented Development’ (TOD) around key transport hubs. Coming into effect in April, it will introduce blanket 6 to 7 storey unit developments within 400m of the Roseville, Lindfield, Killara and Gordon railway stations. If the developer provides affordable housing, the allowed heights may increase to 8 or 9 storeys.

Our understanding is that the TOD policy will also apply to existing Heritage Conservation Areas.

The NSW Government will not be consulting residents about the TOD policy, but Ku-ring-gai Council will prepare a submission to the government on our community’s behalf.

We are inviting residents to complete an online survey about the changes to housing policy. Please provide your feedback here.

You are also encouraged to additionally provide feedback to the State Government’s planning department here.

With this limited window for residents and councils to provide feedback to the State Government, I urge residents to consider the implications and provide your feedback.

More details about the proposed housing policy changes are available in the email below as well as on Council’s website.

Read the full enews

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Mayor's message 2023

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