Liberal Councillor Jilly Pilon, who represents The Entrance Ward, is calling on the Coast Council to take ownership, responsibility and action to fix The Entrance channel and other waterways, and she does not want to wait for briefings.
Clr Pilon said the current situation has resulted in uncertainty for businesses, ferry operators, commuters, fishermen, tourists and residents.
“We cannot ignore the adverse effect this issue is having on people’s lives and the economy here on the Central Coast,” she said.
“Our choked waterways at Ettalong and The Entrance are affecting tourism, employment, transport and land values on the Coast as well as adding to the flood risk of homes around our waterways.”
Cr Pilon said that Mr Paul Toole, Minister for Lands and Forestry, had confirmed that, as the Central Coast has no commercial ports or state owned maritime infrastructure, the waterways are the responsibility of Local Government.
Cr Pilon said: “Our waterways, effectively are no different to our roads.
“Much like the road system, where we pay for registration and licence fees, there are roads that are a Federal responsibility, roads that are a State responsibility, and roads that are a Local Government responsibility.
“It’s been stated by some Councillors, that because the Roads and Maritime Services collects boating fees and charges for maritime activities, that the State Government is responsible for dredging and a dredging machine.
“That argument is flawed in the same way the State collects fees for road licences and registrations.
“Council still have their own local roads that they are responsible for just as they have local waterways they are responsible for, including … The Entrance Channel.
“The NSW Government has a Coastal Dredging Strategy.
“Twice in the last year, the State Government has provided funds for emergency dredging works at Ettalong.
“Further funding was also received through the Rescuing our Waterways grant this year.”
Clr Pilon said she thanked the State Government for the assistance, but it was a band-aid fix and Council needs to take additional responsibility.
“It is therefore imperative that our Central Coast Council continues to work constructively with the State Government for grants that do exist, such as the Rescuing Our Waterways grant, which has been available since 2011,” Cr Pilon said.
She said a Council-acquired dredge would provide the Council with full control of its use.
“We could ensure waterways are kept open and safe, and keep beaches such as The Entrance open all year round for tourism, with a steady flow of replenishment, and boost our tourism industry, with sand groynes providing great waves for surfers.
“The dredge could be leased to other Councils when not required for our local waterways.”
“It is time to move forward, Central Coast residents are tired of inaction,” Cr Pilon said.
Media release, Mar 2
Jilly Pilon, Central Coast Council