As the weather warms, the City of Sydney is working on a program to turn laneways, footpaths and high streets into al fresco dining spots. The push, that's modelled on NYC's Open Restaurant Program, will allow food venues to temporarily use our footpaths, laneways and high streets for open air dining.
While this is a welcome initiative, I think we could do even better to encourage customers back to the city this summer.
Simplify the process
Currently, venue operators who do not have permission to serve food and drinks outside need to submit a development application to the City of Sydney before seeking approval from Liquor and Gaming NSW in a separate process, which often takes several months. We need a simplified, streamlined process whereby one application can cover both approval processes.
Make it more than just hospitality
There's a real opportunity to lift our game and diversify what's out there beyond alcohol-related uses. We should be promoting the use of public space for plays, music, even retail. Pop-up shops and market gardens should all become a part of our inner-city life.
We could see pop-up theatre evenings in unused offices, hairdressers hosting live music evenings or standup comedy, and bookshops opening later as galleries to boost income.
The nighttime is not just about alcohol – it’s also about stores, museums and everything else people need to do into the early evenings. There’s a real opportunity to lift our game in terms of the night-time economy, to diversify what’s out there beyond alcohol-related uses.
Mandatory masks on public transport
To encourage workers to return to their offices and breathe new life in the city's businesses, I am calling for masks to be mandatory on public transport.
NSW Health has issued COVID alerts for nearly two dozen bus routes and four train lines.
Transport for NSW has confirmed that CCTV footage of some of Sydney's busiest train stations suggested just 30 per cent of people were actually using masks.
It is virtually impossible to maintain social distancing on peak hour buses and trains.
Mandating face masks on public transport, while encouraging the use of buses, trains, light rail and ferries, would make people feel safer and encourage more people to the city.
SGS Economics and Planning economist Terry Rawnsley predicted the direct cost of pandemic restrictions, which forced employees to work from home, will cost the CBD $7 billion. Much of that will be felt by hospitality services, the arts and retail.
Sydney's CBD is crucial to Australia's post-pandemic economic recovery, it's crucial we do everything we can to bring it back.
Dr Kerryn Phelps AM
Councillor, City of Sydney
Still Fighting For to a Public Indigenous Statue in the City of Sydney
This week, I presented Nathan Moran, the CEO of Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council with a sculpture done by an artist who read about our efforts. The sculptor's wish is that we do not give up trying to get Patyegerang's story told.
The Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council are sadly no closer to getting their wish for a First Nations' statue in the City of Sydney.
In June, I proposed a motion at the City of Sydney Council meeting asking officers to commission an artwork commemorating Patyegarang, a 15-year-old Gadigal woman who taught her language to the First Fleet naval officer Lieutenant William Dawes.
This would have been the first publicly-funded statue in central Sydney to feature an Indigenous person.
There are more than two dozen statues in Sydney commemorating colonial figures such as Cook, Governor Arthur Phillip, Lachlan Macquarie, Queen Victoria, explorer Matthew Flinders and even his cat Trim but not one commemorating our First Nations' people.
However at that meeting, First Nation members were told the decision needs to now go to a citizen's jury! This is not standard protocol and feels more like an unnecessary extra hurdle.
Congratulations and Well Done to Jo Cooper
For five long years, musician Jo Cooper has battled the strata committee of her apartment block, the Horizon, to keep her beloved 14-year-old schnauzer Angus, despite the building's bylaws banning pets.
The Court of Appeal has found that no apartment building in NSW will now be allowed to have a blanket ban on pets, overturning the right of blocks to pass bylaws prohibiting animals.
That means that many more pets in NSW can finally sleep easier tonight 🐶
The Pop-up Cycling Route on Bridge Road in Glebe Is Not Safe
I support the completion of a connected network of cycleways in Sydney.
I ride a bike myself and safety is a top priority.
But there needs to be proper design and planning, including safety assessments before construction begins.
We heard at the City of Sydney's September Council meeting that the Bridge Road pop-up cycleway in Glebe had been forced through with no prior safety assessment or design planning.
A professional safety audit commissioned by residents in the Glebe/Forest Lodge area -- at their own cost -- has identified 26 areas including several at high risk of causing serious or catastrophic injury to cyclists and pedestrians.
The Bridge Road route must be closed and moved to a more appropriate and safe location.
Please add your name to my petition asking for a safer solution.
You can read the safety audit by following this link