Innovation abounds at Ku-ring-gai

Article image - Innovation abounds at Ku-ring-gai Councillor Maureen Shelley (left) and Councillor Jennifer Anderson (right) at the Firs Estate Cottage.

Stretching from Roseville to Wahroonga on Sydney’s upper North Shore, Ku-ring-gai is one of the most populated Local Government areas in New South Wales, with more than 108,000 residents.

Named after the Guringai Indigenous people who originally inhabited the area, Ku-ring-gai is noted for its urban bushland setting and is almost completely surrounded by national parks.

As the birthplace of the National Trust, Ku-ring-gai is home to many architecturally significant heritage residences built in the early 20th century.


Early intervention for troubled KYDS

There has never been greater demand among young people and their families for professional counselling to help solve whatever problems they may have – whether they are family, relationship, emotional or drug and alcohol related.

In 2005, Ku-ring-gai Council recognised this need and supported the Lindfield Rotary Club in setting up the
Ku-ring-gai Youth Development Service – known as KYDS.

In just three years, KYDS has become a great success story, providing free counselling to more than 1,000 young people with various social, emotional and behavioural problems.

Councillor Jennifer Anderson said the service operates on an early intervention model, seeking to help young people gain control of their lives before a crisis occurs.

“KYDS is having a real impact in improving the lives of young people and I’m thrilled that Council has been able to support this highly valuable initiative,” she said. “Council provides management support and accommodation for the service at Lindfield Library for nominal rent, while Lindfield Rotary Club helps fund two professional counsellors and an office manager.”

Council’s Youth Services team also works in close cooperation with KYDS and is running a Parenting for Teens seminar throughout 2008.

Local Federal MP, Dr Brendan Nelson, secured $50,000 in Federal funding to help set up the service.

KYDS provides early intervention, free individual counselling, and group workshops for young people aged 12 to 18 years, as well as education programs for parents. Group workshops are for topics including anger management, stress management, relationships, women’s issues, drugs and alcohol, and sexual health.

It receives no ongoing government funding and relies solely on fundraising and donations to cover its running expenses.

This service complements other local services for youth, such as Gordon Student Resource Centre, St Ives Youth Centre and Ku-ring-gai Youth Outreach Service.


Leader in water sustainability

Local Councils are increasingly being required to become more environmentally sustainable. Ku-ring-gai
has responded to this challenge with a $4 million water recycling initiative, which captures stormwater and uses it to irrigate local sports fields.

Recycling systems have been installed at two local sports fields, with plans for a further ten systems in coming years.

The Ku-ring-gai community has taken the lead in conserving water, by almost halving its water consumption in the first year of State Government imposed restrictions. This was the biggest reduction achieved by any Local Government area in Sydney.

Ku-ring-gai Mayor, Councillor Nick Ebbeck, said Council’s stormwater harvesting program, which was applauded by the New South Wales Government, builds on this success and will further cut Council’s reliance on potable water for irrigating sports fields.

“Water is our most precious resource and this program is all about capturing and reusing stormwater which would otherwise be wasted down drains,” he said. “In addition to improving environmental sustainability, the program is saving our ratepayers thousands of dollars each year through lower water bills.”

Ku-ring-gai’s first stormwater harvesting system was installed at Barra Brui Oval in St Ives in 2005. This system uses a dam and a 250,000 litre underground tank, capturing around five million litres of water a year for irrigation of the oval. The large tank has been connected to an existing drainage pipe that collects water from a 14 hectare catchment, incorporating St Ives High School.

The recycled water accounts for more than 70 per cent of the oval’s irrigation needs.

Apart from saving around five million litres of water a year, the project substantially reduces erosion and nutrient buildup in a local creek.

Last year, another recycling system was installed at Lindfield’s Edenborough sports field. It captures stormwater from nearby streets and stores it in two large above ground tanks next to the oval. The water is then pumped to irrigate the oval. It is expected to recycle two million litres of water per
year – enough to fill two Olympic sized swimming pools.

As part of the design, a concrete wall has been constructed in front of the tanks, functioning as a soccer practice wall. There is also a viewing deck on top of one of the tanks.

The stormwater harvesting program is being funded by Ku-ring-gai’s new five per cent environmental levy, in conjunction with its sports fields capital works program.

Similar projects are planned for Auluba Oval and Comenarra Oval in Turramurra, Lofberg Oval at Bicentennial Park, Pymble and The Glade in Wahroonga.


From cottage to café

Councillor Maureen Shelley (left) and Councillor Jennifer Anderson (right) at the Firs Estate Cottage.

Innovation in adaptive reuse

One of Ku-ring-gai’s best known historic buildings has been turned into a cafe and retail shop under an innovative and adaptive reuse project.

The Council owned Firs Estate Cottage in Roseville Park is now home to the Sous le Soleil café and shop, selling antiques, paintings and homewares.

Councillor Maureen Shelley said the historic building dates back to the 1870s and was bought by Council in 1920.

“The adaptive reuse of Firs Cottage was one of my priorities when first shown the building by the now General Manager, John McKee, and Director of Operations, Greg Piconi, in 2004,” she said. “It is something that I have supported ever since, and I am delighted that the café is now open. My family and I are regular visitors.”

The cottage was the residence of caretakers for Roseville Park until 1992 and was vacant until late last year when Council entered into a lease agreement with Sous le Soleil owners, Andrew Noakesmith and Olivier Crombeck.

The vision for a café and shop was developed under a plan of management for the site, which included an expressions of interest process.

Under the agreement with Council, the business has made improvements to the property, including a new external pergola for diners, and a new driveway.

All of the building’s heritage features have been retained.