The community of Port Parham has voted strongly against a proposal for community land at the popular seaside town to be excised into the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary.
Speaking at Adelaide Plains Council’s September meeting, Port Parham Sports and Social Club secretary, Alvin Jenkin, says it is clear local residents want to retain any community land for future community recreational use.
Following a meeting last month of local residents to consider the implications of the proposal from the South Australian Government’s Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) to acquire community land at Port Parham, including a large proportion of recreational land which is leased to the Port Parham Sports and Social Club (PPSSC) by Adelaide Plains Council (APC), Mr Alvin gave a deputation, on behalf of local residents, to councillors.
The proposed acquisition area is all community land south of First Street and east of Prime Street, Port Parham, with the exception of an area around the Port Parham Sports and Social Club building and car park.
“On 4th May 2017, representatives of DEWNR and the Council attended a meeting of the committee of the club, and put to the committee a proposal to annex a large proportion of section 573 and add it to the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary National Park,” Mr Jenkin explained.
“The reason given was that it contained a significant amount of Coastal Bitterbush, the habitat of the rare Bitterbush Blue Butterfly.
“The committee responded that this land was “owned” by the community, and the committee did not have power to decide on the proposal without full consultation with the community, and with the membership of the club.”
As a result, a special community meeting was held on Sunday September 17 where the PPSSC resolved not to support the proposal, and to actively seek council’s backing on the matter.
“Those present at the meeting were concerned at the loss of future use of land for recreational purposes in the growing community, and the reservation of recreational land for future generations,” Mr Jenkin told councillors.
“There is a significant and growing population of young people in the community.
“Concerns were expressed at the continuing erosion of community land at Port Parham, the loss of our ability to use the foreshore for community events, for example the extremely well attended New Years Gala Days formerly held on the foreshore, (and) the struggle to establish a playground on community land.
“We are now left with one parcel of land for such activities, and these activities are expanding, particularly Gala Days and Strawberry fetes, with parking and activity areas at a premium, and every indication is that more space will be required in the future with population and activity growth.
“The reactivation of the oval area for recreational purposes is desirable and formed part of a property plan put together a few years ago.”
Despite an invitation to attend the public meeting, no DEWNR representative was present and council has not given the committee the support it seeks.
APC chief executive officer, James Miller, met with Mr Jenkin last month to discuss DENWR’s proposal.
In a statement, Mr Miller said DEWNR have ultimate control over the land in question.
“Any push by either the PPSSC or the council at this point in the process to resist this initiative would need to be underpinned with strong evidence to support that it is in the public interest this proposal not occur,” he said.
APC’s development and community general manger, Robert Veitch, said council was a neutral player in the discussion, saying the issue was between the PPSSC and DENWR.
“Council is really a neutral player in this,” Mr Veitch said.
“If you vehemently don’t want this to happen that’s between you and DEWNR.”
Mr Veitch said the PPSSC still had a valid lease however revitalizing the oval area as suggested by the committee was not part of council’s open space management plan.
“It doesn’t actually fit in with our open space management plan, which focuses on the townships of Dublin, Two Wells and Mallala,” he said.
“They are the focus.
“There aren’t any specific sporting facilities outlined for Pt Parham in the open space management plan.”
A DEWNR spokesperson said the organisation respected Parham Sports and Social Club’s vote and has agreed to meet with their representatives and the Adelaide Plains Council to discuss an alternative proposal to protect the Bitter Bush Blue Butterfly that lives in the area.
“The broader community supports the proclamation of additional land as part of the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary,” the spokesperson said.
“The Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary National Park provides the community with wonderful opportunities to explore and appreciate birds in their natural habitat.
“The Bird Sanctuary is a unique safe haven for shorebirds, many of which are truly remarkable, migrating each year between Australia and the northern hemisphere.”