BY ANITA SENARATNA
A meeting was held in the Bondi Pavilion to discuss its future now it is no longer threatened with commercial development.
As the sun set on Bondi Pavilion, the atmosphere was relaxed as locals and councillors gathered in the theatre on the building’s top floor for the first Bondi Beach Precinct Meeting since the election, chatting amongst themselves as the local dance company rehearsed in the opposite room.
The Pavilion itself was one of the first orders of business at the meeting, led by convenor Lenore Kulakauskas and Secretary Andrew Mathers. Bondi residents at the meeting were the first to hear Waverley Council’s revised plans for the building ahead of the full council meeting the following night.
Labor Mayor John Wakefield and Greens’ Deputy Mayor Dominic Wy Kanak, addressed the committee for the first time since being elected into their new roles, following an election campaign which saw the Liberals lose their majority on the council to Labor and the Greens.
One of the campaign’s defining issues had been community opposition to the Liberals’ proposed $38 million upgrade of Bondi Pavilion, which would have seen the community space on the top floor – including the very theatre where the meeting was held – taken away.
According to Mayor Wakefield, it may be the first time Waverley Council has ever had both a Mayor and a Deputy Mayor from the Bondi Ward. He said under his leadership, this will mean that issues faced by Bondi locals would “no longer be put in the too-hard basket” of council policies.
Bondi Ward’s Liberal councillor Leon Goltsman was also present, as was his former colleague Joy Clayton, who was greeted with applause by the committee. During her time as a Liberal councillor, Ms. Clayton crossed party lines at a council meeting last year and voted to continue debating the controversial upgrade proposed by the previous Liberal-controlled council.
Mayor Wakefield started by outlining more general plans for the area, such as a waste management review, and increased enforcement of Waverley Council’s Local Environment Plan against developments that aren’t in the community’s best interests.
With regards to Bondi Pavilion, he and Cr Wy Kanak announced that the council would be creating a Stakeholder Advisory Committee made up of up to seven residents and members of the local arts community, who will gather information from the public and determine a “hierarchy of required and desired uses” for the building as a cultural centre and creative hub. The goal of the Stakeholder Advisory Committee will be to take into account the needs of the people who use Bondi Pavilion the most, and whose livelihoods are connected to it.
The plans were well received for the most part by the committee, who asked several questions around the selection process but raised no major objections.
The council will then consider this hierarchy in the new proposal before submitting it for approval, and they hope to start construction in July 2018. Expressions of Interest in the Stakeholder Advisory Committee open on Wednesday.