Blue Mountains News

Supporting Our Community After Bushfires: Blue Mountains Bushfire Recovery Action Plan Updated and Endorsed

Source: Blue Mountains City Council
Posted: 8 Jul 2020
Robert Walwyn took this photo at Bells Line of Road, Bilpin, after the bush fires. He sold the print for $500 and then donated the money to the Blue Mountains Bushfire Mayoral Relief Fund. So far the fund has raised $95,000 to assist those in the Blue Mountains, affected by the bush fires.
Council’s Bushfire Recovery Action Plan outlines recovery efforts since the summer’s unprecedented bush fires in the Blue Mountains, and details continuing strategies for the rest of 2020.

The Plan was endorsed at a Council Meeting on 30 June.

Council received a total of $1.3 million grant funding from the Commonwealth Government and a $250,000 NSW Government - Community Resilience and Economic Recovery grant. In addition, it has received a National Bushfire Recovery Agency grant ($20,917), and a Resilience NSW grant ($220,000) for social and community wellbeing

In continuing to support the Blue Mountains community in the recovery journey, key bushfire recovery actions completed in the last six months include:

  • The appointment of Gateway’s “Step By Step” support service to assist the social wellbeing of those affected by the fires.
  • Legal and health counselling and housing advisors to provide information and support directly to people impacted by the fires.
  • The establishment of a local Health & Wellbeing sub-committee, led by the Mountains Community Resource Network, that brings together local community and support organisations and awards health and wellbeing grants.
  • Community meetings in conjunction with Office of Emergency Management and relevant Government and non-governmental agencies.
  • The assessment and management of 1,200 trees along roadways within fire-affected communities for removal or pruning, to ensure the safe use of the roadway by the community and facilitating the opening of businesses and community events.
  • A re-focus of the environment works program to address catchment protection, stormwater treatment and water quality issues in fire affected areas.
  • Partnering with Greater Sydney Local Land, the Blue Mountains Conservation Society and local vets in a fox control program to reduce predation on fire affected wildlife.
  • The ‘Recovering Our Backyard’ Mini Workshop showcasing wildlife management bushcare workshops and “fire affected gardens” information.
  • Remediating works to infrastructure include guardrail replacement, shoulder maintenance, drainage works, sign replacement, landslip work, road restoration.
  • Successfully lobbying for additional funding for businesses indirectly affected by bushfires, resulting in a new $10K grant for businesses.
  • Training to help local businesses improve customer service and communicate with potential customers on social media.
  • Establishment of Bizrebuild for nine businesses located in the most fire-affected regions (Bell, Mount Tomah, Mount Irvine, Mount Wilson, Megalong Valley and Shipley Plateau).
  • Establishing a Mayoral Relief Fund Committee to oversee the distribution of $95,000 raised by the Mayoral Relief Fund to assist the bushfire-affected community.

Council has also developed and continues to implement a local economy and business recovery program including:

  • Subsidised commercial property rents (in Council-owned premises) & footpath dining fees.
  • A significant Destination Marketing Campaign to attract visitors back to the Blue Mountains.
  • A Love Local campaign to encourage locals to support local businesses.
  • A series of live local music events (Love Local Live) providing local employment and attracting visitors back to the area.
  • A range of other business support initiatives including pop up support/information services.
  • A new Business eNewsletter to promote the latest in grant assistance, free business advice and relevant training (including Council’s own training).
  • A project with the local Commercial Tourism Operators (CTO) to provide economic support for the CTO and their employees and to provide training and develop skills to broaden the potential labour market for future recruitment.

As part of the Bushfire Rebuild process, Council has:

  • Established a single point of contact for all bushfire rebuild enquiries to ensure affected land owners have a clear line of communication into Council for the rebuild process.
  • Waived all DA and land use advice related Council fees for fire impacted properties.
  • Successfully lobbied the State government to have DA and associated State government fees waived for (most) bushfire impacted properties.
  • Worked with the State government clean-up contractor to provide an expedited pathway for clean-up works, attended site visits with contractor to expedite works, and to obtain asbestos site clearance certificates for owners.
  • Undertaken a strategic analysis of environmental constraints applying to properties that have experienced dwelling loss.
  • Administered a fire impacted properties register to support the bushfire recovery committee.
  • Investigated fire impacted properties with plastic or fibreglass septic tanks to ensure no safety or environmental issues arising from fire damaged tanks.
  • Fast-tracked the assessment of bushfire rebuild development applications.

Mayor Cr Mark Greenhill said: ‘For the past six months Council has made it a priority to support those directly and indirectly affected by the recent bush fires.

“For the next six months, we will continue to do what we can to support each and every individual, business and community group affected in these difficult times.”

Council will also continue to attend, and be linked into Regional Recovery efforts, while focusing on local recovery efforts.

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