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Tweed Shire News

Tweed Balloon Ban goes off with a bang!

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Tweed Balloon Ban goes off with a bang!

It was the motion floated at Thursday’s Tweed Council meeting that had councillors blowing much hot air before voting almost unanimously to introduce a helium balloon-ban at all outdoor Council events and sites, effective immediately.

Cr Rhiannon Brinsmead, who moved the motion, was carried away by her findings into the deadly effects in the wild of balloon ingestion, and implored greater public education and awareness about outdoor balloon release.

love concept, man flying with heart from balloons, fall in love

“Balloons are arguably the most damaging and dangerous single-use plastic with respect to our environment, especially our beaches, waterways, marine-life and seabirds,” Cr Brinsmead said.

She said a large portion of the Tweed is coastal and Council needs to show its commitment to environmental sustainability.

“The saying of ‘what comes up, must come down’ is particularly relevant in this scenario and a quick ‘Google’ search will highlight the devastating effects that balloons have on dolphins, fish, turtles, seabirds, etc and those effects are similar to plastic bags and a number of our marine life and seabirds are found dead with remnants of balloons actually inside them which is just awful to hear,” Cr Brinsmead said.

New South Wales banned the supply of lightweight plastic bags, single-use cutlery and crockery and cotton buds from June 1.

“However, New South Wales is the only state in Australia where we’re releasing up to twenty helium balloons at a time is still legal, so I just thought that was quite contradictory,” Cr Rhiannon Brinsmead said.

Greens Councillor Nola Firth praised the ban on outdoor balloons on Council land/events as a “really important motion.”

“This kind of initiative, we need to be leading in it, and we certainly are,” Cr. Firth said.

A deflated Cr Warren Polglase voted against the motion, describing it as “heavily-handed” and a ‘Big Brother’ approach.

“It’s rather drastic to bring it in, effectively immediately, when we haven’t advised the community it’s going to happen,” Cr Polglase said.

Crs Cherry and Brinsmead were quick to burst Cr Polglase’s bubble, reiterating the immediate ban applies only to the release of helium balloons from Council events and public land.  From 1 January 2023, the use or supply of all types of balloons at outdoor events in the Tweed will be prohibited.

“It’s important to note this ban relates only to Council licenced events on public land and Council owned facilities and isn’t going to extend to children’s birthday parties on private property etc.,” Cr. Rhiannon Brinsmead said.

“It is really good to try and change the mentality .. I think it’s something the community is ready for.  Yes it is a beautiful thing to see twenty balloons go off in the air but they come down somewhere and we need to think about the consequences of our actions .. I think let’s throw some rose petals or something,” Cr. Chris Cherry said.

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Rising Tide Climate Defenders Demand Action at Labor Member’s Office

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Rising Tide Climate Defenders in front of Justine Elliot's office

Rising Tide Climate Defenders Demand Action at Labor Member’s Office

 

Over 40 Rising Tide Climate Defenders swarmed the office of the Labor Member for Richmond today, demanding an immediate end to new fossil fuel projects. The demonstrators kayaked from John Follent Park in Tweed Heads to Faux Park in South Tweed, then walked nearly 1 kilometre with their kayaks to reach the office.

Background on Rising Tide’s Actions

In November 2023, Rising Tide organized ‘The People’s Blockade of the World’s Largest Coal Port in Newcastle,’ which saw over 3,000 participants engage in a 32-hour blockade, including 20 individuals from the Northern Rivers. After the protest deadline expired, over 100 people were arrested for continuing the blockade.

Goals of the Current Action

Today’s demonstration is the first in a national tour by Rising Tide, aimed at building momentum for the upcoming November 2024 People’s Blockade. The climate defenders left a letter under the door of the Labor Member for Richmond’s office, calling for the following actions:

  1. Immediate cancellation of all new fossil fuel projects
  2. Taxing fossil fuel export profits at 75% to fund community and industrial transition, and to pay for climate loss and damage
  3. Ending all coal exports from Newcastle – the world’s largest coal port – by 2030

Statements from Rising Tide Members

Monique from Murwillumbah, Rising Tide Northern Rivers: “We are taking action today in Tweed Heads to draw attention to our local member’s inaction on climate change. We call on our Australian government to take action on our demands, and until they do, Rising Tide will continue to build a mass movement to take on the fossil fuel industry if our government won’t.”

MJ from Bilambil, Rising Tide Northern Rivers: “Although the Labor Member for Richmond locked the doors on their community again, the Rising Tide climate defenders left a letter under the door calling on the Member to support our demands.”

Call to Action

Rising Tide Northern Rivers is holding ongoing training, education, and workshops and is calling on the Northern Rivers community to join the movement.

For more information on how to get involved, visit Rising Tide’s website or follow their social media channels.

 

For more local Ballina news, click here.

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Contract Awarded for New Animal Pound and Rehoming Centre

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Council’s Team Leader - Rangers Kristian Pakula (right) and Ranger Alan Swift check concept plans on the site of the new Animal Pound and Rehoming Centre at South Murwillumbah.

Contract Awarded for New Animal Pound and Rehoming Centre

 

By Rob Heyward

The Tweed’s new Animal Pound and Rehoming Centre is set to move forward following the Council’s approval of a contract to design and construct the state-of-the-art facility.

In a unanimous decision at their recent meeting, the Council awarded the design and construction contract to Alder Construction Pty Ltd after a rigorous tender process that saw submissions from six companies. The $6.8 million contract encompasses the design and construction of the main animal rehoming building and car park on Council-owned land at 92 – 102 Lundberg Drive, South Murwillumbah.

Construction will commence once the capping earthworks, currently rehabilitating the former tip site, are completed. The total project is expected to cost $9.1 million, funded by Tweed Shire Council with support from the Australian and NSW governments.

Mayor of Tweed Shire Chris Cherry expressed excitement over the contract award.

“We are thrilled to see progress on this much-anticipated facility for Tweed residents, and pleased to appoint a local builder for the project,” said Cr Cherry.

“The new centre will serve as a comprehensive hub for impounding, sheltering, and rehoming animals, providing veterinary care, impounding vehicles, and housing a new office for our Rangers and administrative centre for Friends of the Pound, our not-for-profit animal rehoming partners.”

Artist impression of the new Animal Pound and Rehoming Centre.

Artist impression of the new Animal Pound and Rehoming Centre.

Designed to meet the latest standards in animal care, the facility will offer enhanced services, including an outdoor exercise yard. Construction is expected to begin by mid-to-late 2024, with completion anticipated by late 2025, weather permitting.

The new centre will replace the former pound at Stotts Creek, which closed in 2019 due to flood risks and the need for space in the expansion of the Council’s Resource and Recovery Centre. Currently, impounded animals are cared for by a private operator, with rehoming services supported by Friends of the Pound.

The new centre will operate seven days a week and accommodate up to 80 companion animals—40 dogs and 40 cats—needing new homes. It also includes a designated area for animal enrichment, an essential aspect of the design.

Funding for Stage 1 of the project includes contributions from:

  • Australian Government LRCI Phase 3 – COVID-19 Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program Guidelines – $1,761,562
  • Federal Member for Richmond Justine Elliot’s election commitment – $1 million
  • NSW Office of Local Government – Local Government Grants (Floods) – Highly Impacted Councils – Companion Animals Support – $375,000
  • Tweed Shire Council – $6 million

For more information on the pound, visit Tweed Shire Council’s website.

 

For more Murwillumbah News, click here.

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Flood damaged information centre to be demolished ahead of Budd Park upgrade

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World Heritage Rainforest Centre at Budd Park Upgrade

Flood damaged information centre to be demolished ahead of Budd Park upgrade

 

The Council is seeking community feedback on a draft concept plan to upgrade Budd Park in Murwillumbah, a popular meeting spot beside the Tweed River. This upgrade is part of a $15.5 million funding package from the Australian and NSW governments aimed at restoring and improving community assets damaged by storms or floods.

The proposal includes plans to demolish the World Heritage Rainforest Centre, which once housed the Murwillumbah Visitor Information Centre. The Centre was heavily damaged in the 2017 and 2022 floods.

Mayor of Tweed Shire, Chris Cherry, explained that the Council decided to remove the flood-prone building to prioritize public safety and reduce future risks associated with its vulnerable location. “Budd Park is a significant meeting place for Tweed residents, with generations of families enjoying picnics on the lawns and the river serving as a picturesque backdrop for Year 12 formal photos,” said Mayor Cherry.

“The demolition of the building will allow for the revitalisation of the park. The space previously occupied by the building and internal car park will be converted into parkland, enhancing access to quality public open space for residents and visitors. This transformation will create a vibrant community hub, promoting outdoor activities and social interaction, and significantly improving the area’s aesthetic and recreational value.”

An artist impression of the Concept Plan for the upgrade of Budd Park.

An artist impression of the Concept Plan for the upgrade of Budd Park.

Proposed works include:

  • Demolishing the World Heritage Rainforest Centre and internal road
  • Repairing existing public toilets
  • Retaining the western car park with an additional accessible parking bay
  • Reducing the size of the eastern car park by five spaces, resealing the car park, and enabling entry and exit onto Tweed Valley Way
  • Installing accessible shelters, barbecues, picnic tables, seating, and rubbish bins
  • Creating connecting pathways and bike racks
  • Installing a drinking fountain
  • Adding informative flood markers and painting the existing feature pole
  • Landscaping and tree planting

Mayor Cherry emphasised that the decision to demolish the Centre arose from the need to address public safety and reduce flood risks. “Frequent flooding has caused extensive damage to the building, making it uninhabitable without significant repairs. Additionally, its flood-prone location makes the building uninsurable, imposing a financial burden on the Council and diverting funds from other essential community projects and services.”

“The proposed upgrade offers an opportunity to deliver modern, resilient infrastructure capable of withstanding future weather events,” she added.

The Murwillumbah Visitor Information Centre has been relocated to Murwillumbah Railway Station, at the trailhead of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail. The Green Cauldron Panorama mural, previously located within the Centre, has been stored for safekeeping.

The World Heritage Rainforest Centre is scheduled for demolition in late 2024, with construction beginning in early 2025.

The Council invites residents to provide their feedback on the draft concept plan for the Budd Park upgrade before 4 pm on July 10, 2024. View the concept plan and share your input here.

 

For more Tweed Shire news, click here.

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