Coffs Harbour City Councillors and senior staff at tonight's meeting spread out around the chambers as per social distancing requirements to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Members of the public were excluded.
Coffs Harbour City Councillors and senior staff at tonight's meeting spread out around the chambers as per social distancing requirements to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Members of the public were excluded.

Fires, floods now COVID-19: strange times for Council

THE last time Helen Schlangenotto tried to address Coffs Harbour City Councillors in February she was cut off by flood waters.

The irony was she was hoping to speak about Council's allocation of the Federal Government's $1.3m bushfire relief package to the community of Nana Glen impacted by fires that tore through the region in November last year.

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Tonight she was prevented from addressing Councillors due to COVID-19.

RELATED: No public access to Council meeting in response to COVID-19

The matter was back before Councillors tonight and once again, Ms Schlangenotto's address had to be emailed and read aloud.

Fire came dangerously close to Helen Schlangenotto's Ellems Quarry Road home at Nana Glen late last year.
Fire came dangerously close to Helen Schlangenotto's Ellems Quarry Road home at Nana Glen late last year.

The first allocation of $416,784 signed-off by Councillors at their February 13 meeting has been met with strong community opposition largely due to the allocation of $78,784 for the Lower Bucca Pre-School.

Tonight Councillors discussed spending the remaining funds from the Federal Government.

As a result of tonight's Council meeting a further program of bushfire recovery works worth $983,216 has been approved.

The further program will come from Federal and State Government funds of $1.4m.

The latest list of works followed a second Bushfire Recovery Community Meeting and workshop in Nana Glen on March 11 which considered responses to an online survey, phone and in-person interviews with Nana Glen residents and Orara Valley businesses, general feedback directly to the Acting Community Recovery Officer, as well as ongoing consultation with the community-led Orara Valley Bushfire Recovery Working Group.

They include:

- Ten hardstand sites for emergency water access by Rural Fire Service (RFS) vehicles across the local government area $250,000.

- Turnaround Bays for emergency vehicles $70,000.

- Upgrade of Neighbourhood Safer Places $200,000.

- Environmental Recovery Program $213,216

Concerns over the condition of McPhersons Bridge were also raised as local RFS personnel avoided it in the bushfires because there were doubts that it could take a fully-laden cat tanker.

McPhersons Bridge is Crown Land property so Council has proposed that it will approach Crown Lands to discuss remediation.

A total of $250,000 of the funding has been identified for infrastructure improvements in the program, but this can be reallocated as an additional $100,000 for Neighbourhood Safer Places and $150,000 to the Environmental Recovery Program if not needed.

Road upgrades in the Orara Valley, including Ellems Quarry Road and McPhersons Road were also highlighted during the community consultations.

Rather than use funding designated for bushfire recovery for the road works, Council will apply for some funding from the Federal Government's Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA), which covers damage to public infrastructure during disasters.

Council will provide the balance from its own road budgets.

In addition, funding for a future program of community events and activities that promote local business and industry recovery, as well as community resilience and connection, is to come from a $100,000 NSW Government grant, rather than the Australian Government's $1.3m funding package.