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Regional Roundup

What’s happening in your local area? 2021 looks set to be the year of catch up for many communities as we get back to the new-norm, and the prospects of increased local tourism and the infrastructure and events that come with that.



City of Newcastle’s newest recruit, two-year-old golden retriever Bella, has been joining the Rangers for patrols along Bathers Way between Merewether and Bar beaches. She also accompanies her colleagues around Lambton Park and visits the popular fenced off-leash dog park at Acacia Avenue Reserve, North Lambton, which was opened in 2019 following community feedback into the City’s Dogs in Open Space Plan.

Newcastle has one of the highest dog ownership rates in the State, with more than 44,300 registered canines calling the local government area home. Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the City’s Dogs in Open Space Plan would guide the provision, improvement and management of dog off-leash areas during the next ten years.

“We know that dog owners want suitable spaces to exercise their dogs safely, and work is underway to progress the development of strategically located fenced dog parks such as our Acacia Avenue facility,” Cr Nelmes said.

“Another priority action of the Dogs in Open Space Plan is to provide community education and information on responsibilities for dogs in public places, which is why it’s so great to see our Rangers trialling new measures such as using Bella to enhance their interactions with the community.”

Bella’s presence has been well received by both the four-legged friends she meets and their non-canine companions, giving her fellow Rangers more opportunities to engage with the pet owners. Keep an eye out for Ranger Bella – and don’t forget to say hi!

Top: Bella the ranger dog with Allan Hong, Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes and Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen.


Ten playgrounds, multiple shared paths stretching from Cameron Park to Cardiff and several intersection upgrades in Morisset, Windale and Charlestown are among 49 community infrastructure projects, funded by development contributions, which will be accelerated to keep people in jobs and the economy moving.

Lake Macquarie Mayor Cr Kay Fraser said opening new playgrounds at Taylor Park, Barnsley and Marks Oval, Floraville are two of 10 additional playgrounds being constructed across the City since Council responded to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These projects are strategically important to the City and provide considerable investment and public benefit. While some have a timeline of up to 18 months to construction, ten playground projects were fast-tracked in the initial response to the pandemic,” Cr Fraser said.

Council’s acceleration program has been made possible through collaboration with the Urban Development Institute of Australia and the Property Council of Australia on a review of works programs associated with Council’s Development Contributions Plans.

These combined programs include nearly 50 projects, generating at least $3 million of expenditure on top of Council’s 2020-2021 Operational Plan, with an expected pipeline of up to $40 million worth of projects funded by development contributions. Some of the projects are progressing to ‘shovel-ready’ to be delivered in future Operational Plans.

“Lake Macquarie City Council’s refreshing approach to form a working group with industry to get moving on delivering local community projects is delivering real benefits,” said UDIA Hunter Chapter Chairman Geoffrey Rock.

Fast-tracking the design and construction of community infrastructure projects allows for new jobs and construction work to continue where possible. But it’s more than just a new footpath or playground for our community. Building community infrastructure promotes growth and supports thriving communities,” Cr Fraser said.

“Every time we build a new community asset we’re supporting jobs from start to finish, whether that’s an architect to design it, a concreting plant to provide the materials and a cleaner or mower to maintain it.”

See a full list of the fast-track projects at


In celebration of International Women’s Day, Port Stephens Council is offering local women the opportunity to receive one of three $1000 scholarships to achieve a goal in 2021. Port Stephens Councillor Sarah Smith says the scholarships support local women.

“Now in its fourth year, the Port Stephens International Women’s Day Scholarships are an excellent way for our Council to support local women and recognise the valuable contribution they make to our community.

“Whether it’s the arts, culture, environment, business, community, health or sport, we have so many amazing women doing amazing things right here in Port Stephens,” Cr Smith said.

Cr Smith encourages local women aged 16 and over with an important goal they would like to achieve in 2021 to apply.

“These scholarships are just one way Port Stephens Council is helping to create a community where women are equally valued for their contribution.

Applications close Sunday 14 February 2021, with the winners to be announced at the Rotary Club of Salamander Bay's International Women's Day lunch on Friday 5 March 2021. President of the Rotary Club of Salamander Bay Peter North says Rotary is proud to partner with Port Stephens Council.

“This year’s International Women’s Day theme is Choose to Challenge, asking people to take action for equality and call out gender bias. It’s an important challenge we all need to tackle together.

For more information and to apply, visit or contact the Community Development & Engagement team on 02 4988 0255.


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