Council initiatives to support community after bush fires
Blue Mountains City Council will propose at the next Council meeting that a series of social wellbeing, environmental and waste, local economic and infrastructure initiatives be endorsed, to help the community recover after bush fires.
The proposed initiatives to be considered by the elected Council, and funded by the Federal Government’s $1 million support payment for recovery, include:
- A social wellbeing recovery program to support residents directly impacted by the bush fires.
- Environmental and waste recovery initiatives to clear dangerous trees from the affected areas quickly, plus provide more tailored waste options for affected villages.
- A local economy and business recovery program including options to subsidise rents and footpath fees to support local businesses, plus a significant destination marketing campaign for the Blue Mountains and a series of “Live and local” events providing local employment and attracting visitors back to the area.
- Infrastructure recovery initiatives to repair damaged infrastructure and ensure impacted communities have access to water and other basic requirements.
These are in addition to recovery work already implemented by Council including:
- Hosting Community Recovery Meetings in Bell on 2 January and Mount Tomah on 11 January and attending a community meeting with Hawkesbury Council, for Bilpin residents, on 9 January.
- Providing potable water to affected households and community facilities, for example the RFS sheds and Mt Wilson Hall.
- Providing fuel for generators – at homes, RFS sheds and at the Mt Wilson Hall.
- Completing around 800 tree assessments on public land, along 27km of bush fire affected road, and working with the NSW RFS and Australian Defence Force (ADF) to start clearing dangerous trees.
- Granting fee concessions for Development Applications, tree removal and other Council applications associated with the rebuild and recovery.
Blue Mountains Chief Executive Officer Dr Rosemary Dillon said: “It is imperative that we get endorsement and start rolling these recovery programs out immediately, in order to support our affected residents and communities, as well the local businesses who are suffering because visitors have stayed away during the traditionally busy Christmas New Year period.
“We are meeting with our affected community and are committed to working with neighbouring councils, and state and federal agencies, to find efficiencies in the recovery process and advocate for other resourcing.
“Most importantly, we want to make the recovery process as easy as possible for all those that are affected.”
Mayor Mark Greenhill said he supported the four-pronged proposal for recovery.
“These initiatives mean Council can continue to support our community in the four broad areas of social wellbeing, environment and waste, local economy and built infrastructure needs.
“We know that this community is resilient. But we also know, from the 2013 bush fires in the Blue Mountains, that the recovery process will be long.”
Blue Mountains City Council has a Bush Fire Recovery Committee, and a dedicated Recovery Manager, who can prioritise calls for assistance from our bushfire affected community.
Council joined the Greater Sydney Regional Recovery Group with Hawkesbury, Lithgow and Wollondilly councils, as well as State Government agencies. The regional group is assisting to plan and develop recovery initiatives for our bush fire affected communities that will complement the local Council-led Bush Fire Recovery Action Plan.
A Blue Mountains Bush Fire Mayoral Relief Fund has also been created to help our community recover and rebuild.
This registered fund will provide funding toward projects that contribute directly to the recovery and rebuilding efforts of any fire affected residents in the Blue Mountains. It enables the Australian community to assist our local community in their time of need.
We urge residents and other organisations to donate to this significant local fund.
For more information go to bmcc.nsw.gov.au/MRF.
Photo: Blue Mountains Mayor Mark Greenhill and Chief Executive Officer Rosemary Dillon at the Community Recovery Meeting at Mount Tomah on 11 January. Pic: Sarah Hyde.