Ballina Shire Council will vote on a plan for Lake Ainsworth in an extraordinary meeting on Saturday.
Ballina Shire Council will vote on a plan for Lake Ainsworth in an extraordinary meeting on Saturday. Marc Stapelberg

Why council is having its first weekend meeting in 30 years

BALLINA Shire Council will consider plans for Lake Ainsworth Foreshore Improvements at an extraordinary meeting this Saturday.

Councillors will first decide whether the environmental impacts of the proposal "can be adequately mitigated".

If that is agreed, they will be able to decide on how to fund the project, and when to begin.

The proposal includes work along the lake's eastern and southern foreshores along with roadworks.

Mayor David Wright said it was the first time they'd ever held a meeting on a weekend in his 31 years as a councillor and was scheduled around the need to address the foreshore plans "as soon as possible" while juggling councillors' availabilities.

Cr Wright has long supported the plans.

He said an arrangement with the adjacent Reflections holiday park would likely resolve car parking woes some residents had feared.

"We've been having ongoing negotiations with Reflections to do with parking," he said.

"I'm hopeful there's going to be more available car parking than there is now."

Cr Wright said the lake plans would go hand-in-hand with an upgrade for the Lennox Head Surf Life Saving Club which councillors unanimously approved at Thursday's ordinary meeting.

Shaun Eastment from the Lake Ainsworth Interest Group and Lennox Head Landcare said "crucial components" of the plan related to the reduction of contaminated stormwater entering the lake.

Pip Carter from Preserving Lake Ainsworth Inc. said the plan to close the eastern road was not in keeping with the Ballina Coast Reserve Plan of Management 2003-2011.

This current application, lodged on November 20 last year, garnered about 4770 submissions from the public when it was placed on exhibition for two months from November 29 to January 30.

The council's general manager, Paul Hickey, said the weekend meeting came about due to "expected councillor absences" and as the matter had always generally drawn a 5-5 vote with the current council, it was vital to have all in attendance.

"A councillor absent could potentially change the outcome either way," Mr Hickey said.

"That could then result in councillors re-debating the matter through a rescission motion."

He said the planning assessment had just recently been completed and it was the only option before late October.

"All councillors agreed to this time and date and in accordance with the Council's Code of Meeting Practice, the Mayor then called for the Extraordinary meeting," Mr Hickey said.

"We are not aware of the council ever holding an official meeting on the weekend and the councillors were all prepared to do this to allow the planning assessment report to be dealt with in a timely manner."

The meeting will be held at the council chambers on Cherry St, Ballina from 10am this Saturday.



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