It's been four years since the City acknowledged in its Open Space, Sports and Recreation Needs Study (2016) that Sydney had a dire shortage of recreation space. Back then, it was estimated Sydney would need an extra 20 sports fields, 11 indoor courts and a whopping 54 tennis courts by 2031 to cater for a booming city population.
Today, Sydney still scores badly when it comes to recreation space.
This shortage is exacerbated by our city's ever-growing population and housing profile. According to the NSW Office of Local Government, the City of Sydney experienced the second biggest population growth over the past five years at 22 per cent. Additionally, more than three quarters of our residents live in apartments – the city's parks and playgrounds are their backyards.
The ability of residents to gain access to public open space within an easy walk or cycle from home or work is an important factor to quality of life.
That's why, I've been asking the City for three years to get a multipurpose synthetic playing field for the Glebe Hockey Club.
And at Monday's Council Meeting, I'll be asking that local residents -- schools, sports teams, clubs and associations -- get priority access to the City's limited facilities. I'm also requesting that staffing is increased at Pyrmont's Maybanke Recreation Centre. The centre is currently underutilised due to inadequate staffing and resources.
So far, when it comes to recreation space, the Lord Mayor has used her numbers to vote down my motions. But I don't give up on a fight. I will continue to lobby for the residents of Glebe, Pyrmont and the rest of the City of Sydney community to ensure all residents have adequate access to recreation space.
Speaking of battles, March is shaping up to be a busy month.
I can now inform you that the Lord Mayor will finally be providing the City with an update on its rat and vermin control efforts in her Lord Mayoral minute on Monday. You might remember that there was a deadly outbreak of leptospirosis in July that killed seven dogs.
I'm relieved to know the City is finally taking the health threat seriously.
Finally, I'll be asking the City on Monday to heritage-list the Haymarket Chinatown gates. The ceremonial archways are an icon of our city and the Chinese community that we need to preserve and celebrate.
As ever, do reach out if I can help with these or any other issues. My email is [email protected]
Dr Kerryn Phelps AM
Councillor, City of Sydney
More than 12,000 revellers turned out for the city's annual Mardi Gras party, leaving a trail of glitter through the CBD and more than a few sore heads the following day.
Jackie and I were given the honour of joining the team from WorldPride 2023 on their float this year. The theme, which is the theme for Sydney WorldPride 2023, was fearless. To be fearless is not to live without fear but to overcome fear itself, and to help others to do the same each and every day.
The Religious Discrimination Bill
I joined Ghassan Kassisieh, Legal Director at Equality Australia, Teddy Cook, Manager of Trans & Gender Diverse Health Equity at ACON and Adjunct Lecturer with the Kirby Institute’s Sexual Health Program, on Radio National's Sunday Extra to discuss the LGBTQI Community in Australia.
The most pressing immediate battlefront for our community is the Government’s dreadful Religious Discrimination Bill. If passed, the bill will give a person the right to mistreat others all in the name of so-called "religious freedom." Its effects will be far-reaching, changing public life dramatically in medical services, schools, offices and hospitals.
I also spoke on the Equality Australia panel on the bill at the Beresford Hotel with Ghassan Kassisieh, Legal Director of Equality Australia, Alex Greenwich MP, Independent Member for Sydney, Reverend Dale Yardy, Senior Pastor at Metropolitan Community Church Sydney, and Teddy Cook, Health Promotion Specialist and Trans & Gender Diverse Rights Advocate, to discuss the threats posed by the Bill, the movement for #FreedomFromDiscrimination and what we can do to ensure our laws protect us all, equally.
Some Good News
Finally, some good news for the environment.
Equinor has decided to abandon its plans to drill for oil in Great Australian Bight, for 'commercial' reasons.
If there had been an oil spill, we could have seen an environmental catastrophe along the Australian coastline as far as Port Macquarie.
In April 2019, I joined Layne Beachley and others at a paddle out at Bondi to protest the move.
Since then there have been numerous protests, paddle outs, reports and other forms of social activism against Equinor’s drilling and helped to save our beautiful Great Australian Bight.