Monday, March 5, 2018

Opposing the Wallacia Cemetery DA and Catholic Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust

The world in Sydney has gone mad. I haven't written for a long time due to the demands of life however, I felt that I had to put pen to paper, figuratively speaking.

Councils are designed to look after the local area and ensure developments are benefiting the local community. Then the state government changed the planning laws so that they could approve developments which can over ride the wishes of council and the community. 

This is what is happening with the Catholic Cemeteries and Crematoria(CCC), Catholic Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust(CMCT) plans. They bought the Wallacia Golf Club off Panthers and hope to build a cemetery and crematorium right in the MIDDLE, HEART and TOWN CENTRE of Wallacia. 45 hectares(Footnote1) of land right in the heart of the town. That the DA has gotten this far is what confounds me. These are plans to kill the town. The words would be a humourous pun if it wasn't so ludicrous.

Imagine the uproar if CMCT was building a cemetery right in the heart of the Sydney CBD. It's easier to subjugate a smaller town where residents are dispersed and widely spaced out. David and Goliath. It's ironic that it's the Catholic Cemetery too. The irony. 

Come on Sydney, wake up to what is happening. You are reliant on drinking water from Warragamba Dam and you eat prawns, oysters and fish from the Nepean/Hawkesbury River. The site for the proposed cemetery/crematorium is on a flood prone land containing watercourses that flow to creeks and this flows to the Nepean/Hawkesbury River. You swim and enjoy recreational activities on this river. You risk this river being contaminated from cemetery leaches. Don't allow this to happen. There is a saying that applies to this situation, "Don't shit in your own backyard." 

Yes, the golf club is struggling financially. The better option for a struggling golf club would be to build playgrounds for kids, some public facilities, gyms, swimming pool, shops, good quality eateries so that it can pull in customers and revenue. After all, this is how Westfield Shopping centres survive the slaughter from online shopping. And it would be more in line with the typical development and progress that you would EXPECT for a town centre. Now that would be an array of amazing community facilities that local residents can enjoy and be proud of. I wold love to go for a swim or catchup at a local playground. I would love to eat delicious food in the area and have culinary choices to choose from. I would love to be able to meet friends at those sort of facilities and spend my money. 

Also, on another point, there is an airport that is due to be built about ten minutes drive away. Economic benefits will flow to Wallacia in many forms in future. It's valuable land that will be close to the new airport and the new industry in the surrounding regions as jobs and businesses relocate and build themselves in the area. By virtue of Wallacia, Mulgoa and Silverdale being within such proximity to the new proposed airport, there will undoubtedly be increased tourism and patronage of local businesses from the surrounding populated areas and from travellers.

CMCT are deluded if they think that they are the only ones with the best plans and have the interest of the community at stake by developing a cemetery in the town centre. Wallacia and Mulgoa are already tourist destinations with the river nearby, Warragamba Dam, beautiful tree lined roads and the natural bush lands which are catchments for Sydney's drinking water. 

With an airport that is due to be built within the vicinity, this will deliver economic benefits to Wallacia and Mulgoa without even trying. Wallacia and Mulgoa will definitely be enjoying a boost in traffic from tourists and new residents in surrounding areas who are happy to spend money in the local area with day outings, camping near the river on the campground at Wallacia. 

Such benefits could include patronage to shops/retailers, petrol stations, hair salons, eateries, fishing and camping etc. With the increase of economic and business activities at Badgery's Creek which is adjacent to Wallacia and Mulgoa, it would result in more people desiring to live in the area and this would create funds for more schools, improved shops and social facilities. Now these sort of developments would be more aligned to the community and resident's welfare. The increase in tourism and happy people visiting the area would result in more prosperity for locals and better psychological benefits than a cemetery/crematorium.

Mourners and people going to funerals are not going to be enjoying what Wallacia and Mulgoa has to offer. They are sad. They are mourning. They just want to attend the funeral and get out of the area. To go back home. To go cry. I've been to funerals. What happens at funerals is that people mourn and cry. They have no desire to go looking around the suburb or locality of the cemetery/crematorium. Who would want to hang around a cemetery/crematorium? So if the CMCT builds one at Wallacia, who will want to hang around Wallacia?

It's getting ridiculous that we are even forced to consider the idea of CMCT building a huge cemetery in the water catchment regions of Sydney. It's in the catchment region. It's our drinking water! There are residents in the area still drinking tank water and collecting rain water for their personal use. Not by choice but because reticulated water isn't available. 

Erosion occurs because of acid pollutants in the air mixing in with rain. How would CMCT feel about a dose of crematorium air pollutants mixed in with harvested rain water for residents to use? It doesn't even matter how efficiently crematorium filters operate because there will always be unavoidable air pollutants that filters cannot eradicate. How is this proposal even under consideration? And there is no reticulated sewerage to many of the properties in the area. This poses health risks.

The CEO for CCC Peter O'Meara was quoted in the saying, "The style of the landscape will complement the surrounds of the area. It's not like the style of Rookwood, but something that children and families can enjoy too." Do they really think that parents will be taking their kids to enjoy a fun day out at a location where there are bodies being cremated underground, burials and people crying above ground? Hearses and coffins going in and out and people in distraught constantly at the town centre? 

Imagine fielding the questions from children..."What are those cars carrying...?"..."Why are people always crying there?"..."Why are all the people wearing black?"..."Why are the people there so sad all the time?", "What is in that box that people are always carrying?".... So no, families are not going to want to bring their kids to play at the cemetery or whatever sort of community centre that CMCT intends on building to try pacifying the community. It's absurd to think that community members and residents will wish to celebrate special happy events in a centre that is in the cemetery.

There was a quote from a local mother saying, "My kids can't ride their bikes around here, if we want to go for a ride, we have to drive somewhere else." Which parent is going to take their kids for a bike ride or a play date in a cemetery? Or even a community facility in a cemetery? Imagine anyone with kids saying, "Let's have a playdate. The kids can ride their bikes and scooters around at the park at the cemetery/crematorium." There's already beautiful bicycle and walking lanes at the park alongside the Nepean river all the way up to Penrith. 

If Sydney is so in need of cemeteries and graveyards then why are they clearing Rookwood cemetery to build a 16 storey, $200 million dollar unit (the If anything, the cleared cemetery an be re-used for the same purpose it was designed for, instead of constructing homes there. 

The 2) wrote that the Wallacia club was the first in the country to allow women to join as associates and that the club historically opened in 1933. This is history folks. History for women. History for Wallacia, Penrith and Australia. Irreplaceable history. 

Peter O'Meara was interviewed on radio recently on 6th March 2018, and O'Meara sounds confounded that (you can hear it in the tone of his voice), "...strangely enough, the opposition seems to be coming from people who actually aren't members of the golf course..." 

How is it strange that the residents oppose a cemetery/crematorium in their town centre? There's a retirement home directly opposite the site. There's a primary school opposite the site. There's no denying that there will be air and water contaminants and leachates. Or that all the roads in the area and leading to the area are rural single lane roads that have had mortality from car accidents due to dangerous over taking. It's not just the welfare of golf club members at stake. 

We all know that Sydney is in need of more burial spaces. No one is denying that. However, the search for appropriate land must go on. The land that Wallacia Golf Club currently resides on is not the appropriate land. Why are we even debating the idea of this. Premier Gladys BereJiklian, the future of Wallacia is in your hands. Is your government going to support the residents and assist in opposing the CMCT DA or are you going to go against community wishes?

Follow up on what is happening via the Facebook page:

Footnote 1: DA papers lodged by CMCT
Footnote 2:, 'Cemetery headed to Wallacia Golf Course' 

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