Pictured above: a Lake Ainsworth erosion hot spot. Councillor Keith Williams and C Ward Candidate Ron Birch who is standing with Keith on the Balance For Ballina ticket
Lennox Head is set to take the controversy over the closure of the Lake road to the Council elections, with the announcement by Keith Williams last week that he now intends to support keeping the road open, and to advocate the implementation of other measures to help protect the health of the Lake.
Councillor Williams (who is also running for Mayor) admits that this is a complete turnaround from his previous, long-held position, and claims that it is the science presented by Professor David Lloyd—a specialist in this exact field, who also lives in Lennox Head—plus the recent announcement of an Olympic Training facility at Lake Ainsworth Sport and Recreation Camp, that helped change his mind. He will now share the position taken by the Keep The Lake Road Open group, who coincidentally had earlier this month called for someone to represent them on Council.
Councillor Williams’ platform for Lake health includes measures such as the construction of a reed bed filtration system, undergrounding of power lines, relocation of the road, and construction of a riparian zone between the road and Lake to prevent serious further erosion.
He says the announcement of the construction of the Winter Olympic training facility on the grounds of Lake Ainsworth Sport and Recreation Camp is a game changer for the Lake road and that funds could be made available from the State Government to carry out extensive works for Lake regeneration and protection.
Councillor Sharon Cadwallader, who has been working on the Lake issue for 15 years, admits there is a growing level of community concern around the road closure and says that she is ‘open to a new conversation about what’s best for both the Lake and the community’, admitting that ‘it is a very difficult decision.’
Councillor Jeff Johnson says he still strongly supports road closure, for a range of reasons. He admits that while the health of the Lake is vital, it is not the only good reason to close the road. He also cites issues such as amenity, safety, and overcrowding as the key reasons to create a recreational park land on the eastern side of the Lake.
Many who support road closure also say that there is just not the room to do everything that needs to be done to protect the Lake, plus have a functioning road with parking.
They say that any money that is now available as a result of the Olympic Training facility would be just as well spent on upgrading the Southern and Western roads and providing Sport and Rec with a viable alternative access point.
Although Sports Minister Ayres has publicly declared the State Government’s support for keeping the road open, the Minister for Crown Lands has not made any such statement, and at the moment the official Council position is that the eastern road will close just as soon as the development application is approved.
All B Ward Councillors (and the new Greens candidate for B Ward) will provide their stance on the Lake Road in the September issue of The Lennox Wave, out next week. Other key stakeholders have also been invited to comment.