As a school we seek not to be “political”, however, sometimes an issue is of such import to our School and its community that the School must make its voice heard in the “corridors of power”.
As most of our community is aware, in February this year, Port Macquarie/Hastings Council released a document that showed its plans for an Orbital Road route that either took this new four lane road within metres of our school, its outdoor play areas and our Early Learning Centre or gouged its way through our rear oval and hardcourts, taking out our driveway and School entrance.
As a result of serious concerns in regard to the planning that has underpinned this process, and after meetings with Councillors and Council officers, I have sought permission to address the Council meeting to be held on June 18.
Recognising that many in our geographically broad community would not be able to attend this meeting, I include below the text that I will use in this address. Please feel free to contact me if you have any concerns in regard to the nature or content of this address on behalf of our School.
I come here tonight representing St Columba Anglican School, a community that draws its members from South West Rocks in the North across to Long Flat in the West and down to Harrington in the South, and of course this great city of Port Macquarie.
I was appointed as Principal, effective from January 2008, with a student enrolment then of 579 students. This year our enrolment is over 1,200 students.
It may surprise some that given in February we were told a route for the orbital road would either be built within inches of our youngest and most vulnerable students or through our sports fields, courts and driveway, that I support the creation of an orbital road.
As a result of our geographical diversity, ours is a community that acknowledges the importance of the Port Macquarie/Hastings Council’s efforts to address the issues of local and regional growth, particularly in regard to roads and access.
What does concern our community is the manner in which the process predicating this development has taken place.
We believe that the process that Port Macquarie/Hastings Council undertakes to achieve its goal of decreasing current and future traffic problems will have one of two outcomes:
- A proper and well considered process will bring the region a development that will enhance our region and support a brighter, improved future for the communities it serves.
- A poorly designed and executed process which will rob the region of its potential and foment distrust and resentment among those the Council seeks to serve.
WE HAVE BEEN THERE BEFORE!
We have chosen not to sit on the sidelines and simply critique the efforts of Council.
As an educational community that has grown with the region, we applaud the Council’s future focus in its planning BUT, we ask that our elected representatives REVIEW what we respectfully believe to have been an expensive, limited and possibly flawed approach in its planning considerations.
On the 22nd May 2019, the General Manager of the Port Macquarie/ Hastings Council, Craig Swift-McNair, wrote to the Chair of St Columba Anglican School, Dr Gordon Burch, and I quote the first sentence of the fourth paragraph:
“THE DECISION AT THE JUNE 2019 COUNCIL MEETING IS NOT ABOUT SELECTING A PREFERRED ROUTE.”
Consequently, we wish to work with the Council to ensure the best outcome for the region and in ensuring that Council is committed to the necessary steps to gain financial support essential to deliver this massive and important project.
Port Macquarie/Hastings Council, in the opinion of many citizens of this region (and you have all heard this before), believe the planning of this project has seen:
- a LACK of appropriate and effective ENGAGEMENT with stakeholders,
- a LACK of TRANSPARENCY and
- a LACK of DUE PROCESS.
These are matters raised by Dr John Barrett at the February Council meeting when he addressed Council on the Orbital Road issue.
THEREFORE, St Columba Anglican School proposes the following motion to address the inadequacies present in Council’s current process.
That the Port Macquarie/Hastings Council, as from the 19th June 2019, undertake a comprehensive study of alternate routes for the Orbital Road in Port Macquarie, and provide the Port Macquarie Community with not less than three options for crossing of the Lake Innes Nature Reserve (East/West corridor).
Mr Terry Muldoon
Principal, St Columba Anglican School