October 22 - 28, 2023: Issue 602


Mona Vale Hospital Alcohol-Drug Rehabilitation Unit Closed: Pittwater MP Calls For Restoration Of A Local Service

The NSW Government stated on Tuesday October 17 it is acting to take pressure off of some of the state’s busy emergency departments by diverting drug and alcohol presentations to specialised units.

Safe Assessment Units are designed to better support people presenting to emergency departments with behavioural disturbances associated with alcohol and drugs. Two of these units will be rolled out at the Prince of Wales and Nepean hospitals, the government announced.

‘People presenting with behavioural disturbances are often vulnerable and become overwhelmed by the environment in the ED. These units will provide a safe, low stimulus environment in which patients can be admitted, assessed, and treated.

They will allow patients to be treated by a multidisciplinary team of clinicians working across mental health, clinical pharmacology and alcohol and drug teams.’

‘Similar models of care have resulted in improved patient outcomes, reduced need for sedation and restraint, as well as a reduction in the length of stay and time to be seen in EDs.’ the statement reads

On Monday October 16 Member for Pittwater Rory Amon called on the State Government to urgently address the lack of residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation services in our area.

Kedesh Rehabilitation Services had operated in partnership with the Northern Sydney Local Health District from 2010. Its Phoenix House Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation residential service was established at the Mona Vale Hospital site in February 2019. In December 2022, the service was closed without any notice being given to the Pittwater or the surrounding community.

“Since being elected, I have pursued the new Government about reinstating the residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation service for Pittwater and northern beaches residents. Sadly, the government has obfuscated and refused to provide any commitment to these vital services,” said Mr Amon.

The call comes months after Mr Amon wrote to the Health Minister and also sought answers to a Question in Parliament seeking assurances regarding the reinstatement of the services. 

Recent Government advice stated that “The former Phoenix House site is currently unoccupied pending the outcome of further investigations and consultations about the best use of the site.”

“The Government has been investigating and consulting on the provision of critical residential drug and alcohol services for nearly 12 months. It has taken far too long and swift action is needed.

“The closest operational residential rehabilitation services are in St Leonards, Sydney City, and Concord.

This means that people struggling with addiction are forced to seek support far away from their home, isolated from their loved ones. It is an utter waste to have Phoenix House sitting vacant at the Mona Vale Hospital site,” said Mr Amon.

The loss of the 10 beds and day outreach services Kedesh provided on the Mona Vale Hospital campus restricts access to help in the LGA for those needing the programs formerly provided. The range of services, as listed in 2021 when the new Mona Vale Hospital ambulance station opened, were designed to provide a whole suite of locally embedded and accessible treatment facilities, as identified as required when the reshape of MVH took place.

Those who cannot access these cannot begin to restore their health.



Royal Motor Yacht Club Broken Bay's 10 Million Entertainment Upgrade Needs Finessing Newport Residents State

RMYC in January 2023 showing the lift shaft atop the right hand side of the building
The Royal Motor Yacht Club on Pittwater has submitted a proposed 10+ million dollars upgrade of its downstairs pool and forecourt area which is largely supported by residents.

However, there have been calls to take this as an opportunity to remove the old lift shaft, which exceeds the height limit, and help the council invest in a footpath outside the perimeter of the club as the upgrade is clearly aimed at increasing the capacity of the club to host visitors and problems already exist during the peak Summer periods, or for other events, with cars being parked on the council reserve, forcing pedestrians onto a dangerous section of road.

As part of this new development the RMYC will be installing a new lift closer to the main entrance of the club.

" So why not install two new lifts – new technology would then enable the existing 4 meter non-compliant one to be removed – beautifying Pittwater for all." one resident said to Pittwater Online News 

Ongoing illegal parking continues to occur in the summer months along Prince Alfred Parade. This usually occurs when a high number of boating members are using their vessels and parking in the lower carpark, use of the swimming pool is at a premium, and this easily fills the upper carpark. In addition people are using the café and bars, adding to the parking problems. 

In the majority of cases those attending the club and unable to park will then illegally park on the council strip on the western (but sometime also on the eastern) side of the road. 

In so doing, these illegally parked cars then force pedestrians to walk on the road. 

"This is extremely dangerous around the high-speed sweeping bend between 30 and 40 Prince Alfred Parade and also near the blind crest of the hill between 10 and 20 Prince Alfred Parade.

These illegally parked cars also make it extremely difficult and hazardous for residents to enter and exit their driveways.

We (residents of Prince Alfred Parade) have written on numerous occasions to Northern Beaches Council, Northern Beaches Councillors, State and Federal MPs requesting action and to minimise the likelihood of a pedestrian accident occurring. The ideal solution would be the installation of a footpath and a continuous 90° hard curb between 2 and 46 Prince Alfred Parade, thus eliminating the option to illegally park. Maybe this is something the RMYC could consider funding as good neighbours and in the spirit of giving back to the community?" another Newport resident said

Another states their experience has been, "I walk from my home with my neighbour and our dogs daily. There are many other pedestrians on this stretch of road between the two yacht clubs doing the same. I have written to council before about our urgent need for a footpath in this area. The current situation is already completely dangerous, so my concerns for the RMYC development will add a further detrimental impact on safety of a growing club in an area in desperate need of improvement."

However the proposal 'Plan of Management' document states a total of 290 car parking spaces are provided on the site and Traffic control and club buses will be provided during peak periods to ensure that all attendees arrive and exit the premises in a safe, quick and quiet manner, as follows: Vehicles will be directed to available spaces; and Additional Carparking will be made available at other locations with a shuttle bus provided. 

''This has been implemented and successful on certain events days at the club.'' the proponents' agents state

The drawings indicate that part of the proposed development has a maximum height of 12.5m to the upper most point of the building, being the lift shaft and associated overrun, and is therefore non-compliant. The noncompliance is approximately 4m or 47%. 

In seeking permission for this height breach, to provide an accessible connection between the older parts of the club and the proposed extension, the proposal cites the main roof of the lift of a 1990s extensions along with the overrun of the 1960s club building are both higher than the current LEP height limit and are already in place, stating as such compliance with a development standard is unreasonable or unnecessary, referencing the Clause 4.6 of PLEP 2014, as so many agents have for proponents.

No other part of the new proposed development will exceed the 8.5m LEP height limit. 

The proposal is for Construction of a two-storey extension to the west of the existing clubhouse to provide dining and social facilities for members - this will be on the site and footprint of the existing forecourt area and have a ground floor, second floor and rooftop dining. 

Current forecourt  building downstairs

Artists impression of proposed new development

Connecting the existing three storey structure with the proposed new one will increase the Ground floor gross floor area from 1417m² to 1476m², the First floor from 864m² to 1535m² and the Second floor 710m²  to 753m² while the Third floor will remain the same, 113m². Overall the gross floor area will increase from 3104m² to 3877m² with this design without attempting to install something that is overbearing on the landscape and sight view from the estuary, and will provide another great water views restaurant and wedding venue that will easily surpass that currently available at teh club.

The club also lists Internal refurbishment to improve amenity and upgrade member services, the provision of improved accessibility and fire safety compliance to existing parts of the building and to upgrade sustainability performance of the new and upgraded building will form part of the works, including the installation of solar panels to the existing roof deck.

The council's assessment team has also found the proposal needs finessing.

As the majority of the land based property is identified as scenic protection category 1 under the PDCP, which states that built form shall be secondary to the landscape, tree canopy shall be maintained and enhanced, minimise visual impact on the natural environment, and canopy trees are required between dwellings and boundaries facing waterways. 

Significant change is proposed to the existing condition, albeit the footprint remains relatively the same. It is suggested tree planting be incorporated into the proposal, to the west of the proposed club additions, which will help soften the visual bulk and dominance on the new works when compared to the existing. The proposal, as is, and without this response to the requirement, is unsupported.

The proposal is not supported with regard to landscape issues either.



State Of Beaches 2022-2023 Report: Mona Vale Beach Downgraded - Most Other Swimming Spots 'Good'

Water quality at the ocean beach at Palm Beach remains 'Very Good' in the latest State of the Beaches report.

Thursday October 19 2023

The Minister for the Environment has released the NSW State of the beaches 2022-2023 report, which shows 96% of monitored beaches have excellent water quality. Narrabeen Lagoon (Birdwood Park) Lagoon and Bilarong Reserve Lagoon are both rated 'Poor' again in water quality, while Palm Beach Ocean beach, Whale Beach Ocean beach and Avalon Beach are rated 'Very Good'.

Mona Vale beach has been downgraded to 'Good' with an increase in faecal contamination.

Of our Pittwater estuary swimming spots Bayview Baths is rated 'Poor' while The Basin and Great Mackerel Beach have been rated 'Very Good'.

WaterNSW reported several occurrences of marine algal blooms along the Sydney coast in 2022–2023. Blooms of Alexandrium pacificum occurred in a number of estuaries including Broken Bay and Pittwater during October 2022 to February 2023. 

Despite record rainfall, NSW swimming spots overall have performed well in the report. Seventy-three per cent of monitored sites received good or very good water quality results. It is a slight decline on 2021–2022, as a result of wet weather. Estuarine swimming sites are more susceptible to the effects of excessing rainfall and stormwater events, with just over half graded as good or very good.

State of the Beaches grades are compiled from water quality samples collected at sites monitored under the Beachwatch and Beachwatch Partnership programs. In 2022, Beachwatch expanded statewide to include inland waterways and freshwater swimming sites in the monitoring program. Sites include ocean beaches and baths, estuarine areas, lakes, lagoons and freshwater swimming spots.

Mona Vale and South Curl Curl Beach were downgraded to Good, due to a slight decline in microbial water quality. The Beach Suitability Grade of Good indicates microbial water quality is considered suitable for swimming most of the time at Mona Vale but can be susceptible to pollution after rain, with several potential sources of minor faecal contamination.

Enterococci levels generally increased with increasing rainfall, occasionally exceeding the safe swimming limit after light rain, and often after 20 mm or more. The last time Mona Vale Beach was downgraded to Good was during the 2019-2020 report when again, elevated Enterococci levels reduced the water quality. 

Mona Vale recorded more than double the long-term monthly average rainfall for September and more than triple the monthly average for October with 203 mm and 260 mm of rain for the month, respectively. Significant wet weather at  the start of October included a daily rainfall total of 99 mm at Sydney Airport. Drier conditions followed in November with extended dry periods in some areas and below average rainfall recorded for the month. Mona Vale recorded 28 mm total rainfall for November, which was well below the long-term monthly average.

Over the data collection period for the report 35 Wet weather samples were taken and 65 Dry weather samples to record the quality of water off this beach as having 'Declined'. Overall it is reaching the same level of Enterococci levels as that of Warriewood, where faecal contamination sources include the Warriewood Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP). The report does not clearly identify the source of the increase in faecal contamination.

Contamination of recreational waters with faecal material from animal and human sources can pose significant health problems to beach users owing to the presence of pathogens (disease-causing microorganisms) in the faecal material. The most common groups of pathogens found in recreational waters are bacteria, protozoans and viruses.

Exposure to contaminated water can cause gastroenteritis, with symptoms including vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach-ache, nausea, headache and fever. Eye, ear, skin and upper respiratory tract infections can also be contracted when pathogens come into contact with small breaks and tears in the skin or ruptures of the delicate membranes in the ear or nose.

Certain groups of users may be more vulnerable to microbial infection than others. Children, the elderly, people with compromised immune systems, tourists, and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds are generally most at risk.

Mona Vale Beach, State of the Beaches report 2022-23

Just south of Mona Vale ocean beach, aWarriewood, the Beach Suitability Grade of Good indicates microbial water quality is considered suitable for swimming most of the time but can be susceptible to pollution after rain, with several potential sources of faecal contamination including  the Warriewood Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP). Enterococci levels generally increased with increasing rainfall, occasionally exceeding the safe swimming limit after 5 mm or more of rain, and regularly after 20 mm or more.

The Enterococci levels at Warriewood have risen steadily with this years' 'State of the Beaches' report recording the highest level for several years despite the report recording its status as 'stable':

Warriewood Beach, State of the Beaches report 2022-23

Warriewood Sewerage Treatment Plant currently provides secondary treatment and disinfection of sewage to a population of almost 65,000 people, according to WaterNSW.


Spring In Pittwater 

Cricket at Hitchcock Park, Careel Bay/Avalon Beach, October 21 2023 - photo by A J Guesdon
Narrabeen Lagoon entrance clearing works, October 16 2023 - photo by Joe Mills - More in this Issue's Turimetta Moods (September to October 2023)
Narrabeen Lagoon entrance clearing works, October 20 2023 - photo by Joe Mills

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