Ashfield Mayor Lucille McKenna: M4E proposal totally unacceptable

Ashfield Mayor Lucille McKenna spoke at a public meeting organised by the Council to discuss the EIS. She focussed on the the impact of the project on “our day to day lives, our built environment, our social infrastructure, everything that goes into making this a place to live.” The meeting was attended by more than 300 residents. Here is an edited version of her remarks. Since then she has released a statement on Westconnex.

Many of us are going to be living in a construction zone.

Many of these things are totally unacceptable. If you have to take the spoil of out of the Wolseley Street to Wattle St work depot, why can’t you just take it straight down Parramatta road? Why are you going to take it down Wattle St, 300 trucks a day, that’s one every 4.8 minutes leaving the worksite, 24 hours a day, down to Reg Coady reserve where you are going to knock out trees – huge trees – you are going to knock them out and then turn the trucks around and bring them back up Wattle street. Now those 40 or 50 homes in that site are going to have to cope with 600 times a day a truck going past their house. That is not acceptable. That is absurd to think it is ok. It is not ok to do this to our community.

Of course, I don’t want to see this jolly road be built. On a personal level, I sold my home which was just on the corner basically very close to Waratah street, and got out. I’m now living in a unit, because I couldn’t cope with the thought of having to deal with that on a daily basis, and I feel very sorry for my neighbours, the people who used to be my neighbours, close neighbours, who are going to be coping with this travesty in front of them on a daily basis, and it’s for the next three years.

How are we going to get across Parramatta Road, I don’t know. Is it ok for Wattle Street ( to become) 80 metres, its currently 20 metres wide and I’ve read that it’s going to be 80 metres wide. How do you get across a road, how do you walk across as a person with a disability, as a person with small children, how do you walk across a road that is going to be 80 metres wide? That is just absurd.

And as far as I’m concerned there hasn’t been nearly enough said about the heritage impact. The heritage impact on Haberfield is huge…The EIS says that there is likely to be serious damage to the structural impact of these old buildings. Well that isn’t ok, that the EIS heritage section says that the impact on Haberfield is going to be extreme and nothing that they can do is going to mitigate these issues. If that is the expert’s position, then we shouldn’t be proceeding.

Westconnex plans to demolition  this house and 65 others like it for its M4E Tunnel. Mayor McKenna says it is not acceptable
Westconnex plans to demolition this house and 65 others like it for its M4E Tunnel. Mayor McKenna says it is not acceptable

It is absolutely absurd. I mean the people who live west of us have been hoodwinked into thinking this is a solution, and again, I don’t blame the people who are employed, you’re not the people who dreamt up this crazy project.

We’ve heard about this bus lane from Burwood – but when are we going to get it? It should be there now. When is it coming? When are we going to actually have bus lanes that work? The General Manager and I had to get to a meeting the other day, we got into a cab at parliament house, it took us half an hour to get to Broadway to get to the bus lane and when we got onto the bus lane it was beautiful, we got here in no time. Bus lanes do work, but you gotta have them, you can’t have a little bit of bus lane and then kilometres without a bus lane. We need the bus lane now. ( Westconnex has told residents that the bus lanes would not be available at the time the tunnel would open in 2019 but would come some time later. The lanes are outside the scope of the EIS but they have been included in the assessment of the benefits of the project)

And where are these workers, these 1000’s of workers for these four major worksites – where the heck are they going to park? Where are they going to put their cars? I’m told that these trucks full of spoil will be covered – well they’ll be covered alright but what about their dirty wheels and dust and dirt and rain. What happens in wet weather? It just blows my mind to think that we are actually standing here dealing with this issue. This is just an unbelievably bad project for Ashfield. 4 major work sites in our little bit of Parramatta road. It’s totally unacceptable.

Separating the Haberfield conservation area, separating it by having the western part of the conservation area almost completely cut off from the eastern side, is outrageous. This is an internationally recognised suburb that should be preserved as is. We should not do anything more, it should be left as it is and Wattle St should not be widened.

The Council has released notes of the meeting.

At the end of the meeting, this resolution was unanimously passed:

This public meeting of people in the Ashfield Municipality strongly supports Ashfield Council’s opposition to the WestConnex scheme and calls for an immediate halt to all compulsory property acquisition and the geotechnical drilling program pending:

  • a public inquiry into the WestConnex project
  • publication of a full business case and cost benefit analysis for the WestConnex project
  • revision of the Environmental Impact Statement to take account of Urban Growth’s plans for hundred of thousand of additional people residing in tens of thousand of new dwellings alone the Parramatta Rd corridor (with no additional public transport)
  • publication of a summary of the Environmental Impact Statement(EIS) in the main community languages of Ashfield (Mandarin, Cantonese, Italian, Greek, Spanish , Arabic, hindi, Korean, Tagalog, Bengali, Vietmmens and Filipino)
  • extension of the period of consultation on a a revised and updated EIS to 90 days from the date of publication of the EIS and summary in community languages.

Note: The community was only given 45 to comment on a 5000 page EIS. The Minister for Planning Rob Stokes period extended this to 55 days or until November 2 after it was revealed that Westconnex had failed to deliver the full EIS document. Residents have been campaigning for a further extension and have not yet received a final answer from the Department of Planning. Hundreds have not even received an answer to their letters.

The Westconnex Action Group produced a storify of the twitter stream #TalkEIS

NoWestconnex Campaigners conduct a 'speed reading' session to highlight insufficient EIS consultation time
NoWestconnex Campaigners conduct a ‘speed reading’ session to highlight insufficient EIS consultation time

(Mayor Lucille McKenna’s strong speech reflects the strong opposition or the Ashfield Council to the Westconnex project.Here’s an earlier news report)

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