This was Council’s first Ordinary meeting under public health restrictions. It took place in the larger War Memorial Hall, to allow Councillors to be a suitable distance apart. It was a small agenda, which didn’t (despite the urgently called Special Council Meeting one week before) contain any items relating to the public health crisis.
The main items related to Cottesloe Surf Life Saving Club’s plans for a revamped clubhouse, which meant the removal of a very large and long-standing Norfolk Island Pine out on the point of Mudurup Rock, and two items relating to arts and culture in the Town – plus some new tenders.
Cottesloe Surf Life Saving Club
The Club’s clubhouse revamp design was supported by the Town’s Design Advisory Panel (which I chair), and I supported it from a design point of view – it looks to deliver a smart, fresh building in keeping with its unique, coastal context. However, I was keen to see the possibilities to preserve or relocate that iconic ‘Cottesloe Pine’ at least explored fully. I am a firm believer in the creative exploration of possibilities to find solutions or outcomes “outside the box” – beyond just plans to ‘build around’ the Pine (which had proved unworkable). There must be other ways to resolve this issue.
However, I did not move an amendment to pursue this, due to the Mayor’s request we not move amendments to keep a fast (and safe) meeting. So, I spoke and voted against the approval – not because I do not support the Club, or its design, but because I believe we can do better to solve difficult problems and not simply ‘wave things through’ where its the easy option. We should be willing to try to solve difficult problems like this. This is particularly the case for the many ‘private’ trees being removed as density increases. I am not saying we simply keep trees at any cost – but we must look as creatively as we can to find solutions: tree transplants, boundary adjustments or others we have not yet even conceived. “Architectural bigamy“, as Bjarke Engels puts it. However, as the ensuing public health crisis has proved, it is often only when we are forced to innovate that we do. But, we always can – we are creative, intelligent and hard-working. We should be able to better solve difficult problems like this.
Arts & Culture
Council was also asked to approve a new Church group to run the annual ‘Carols By Candlelight’, a very popular local event. It seemed to be very early to approve an event we do not now know will go ahead, and a new group we simply knew very little about. Again, having been asked not to make amendments, I spoke against what I saw as a rushed decision that had not been fully explored. In particular, the scope for local arts and cultural organisations to be involved in someway, even in conjunction with the approved group. With the public health crisis already decimating Australia’s live performance industries, and local performance groups being keen, we did have an opportunity to “think bigger”, and create new opportunities for local arts whose very viability is now under threat. I was out-voted.
I also proposed an amendment to the Annual Report, to include in future photos of the Town’s own public art and sculpture collection (and attribute artist and photographer), and to acknowledge the Town’s various volunteer Committee and Working Group volunteers. Both were passed, which was a very pleasing ‘small win’ for arts & culture in Cott – artists and photographers work is often overlooked or uncredited. Equally, I believe we should be celebrating and promoting our own Sculpture collection, to increase its visibility, and acknowledge the artists whose incredible work pleases so many at ‘Sculpture By The Sea’ each year. And, for those volunteers who give up their time to sit on Council committees – it seems appropriate to mention them in our Annual Report.
Lastly, I voted against a proposed tender for a new parking system, on the basis I was not satisfied our ‘due diligence’ had been done. Hopefully that will prove not to be an issue – but due diligence is done for good reason, even if that is just to give Council the confidence we’re making the right choice.