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rta’s appalling response
Thursday, 22 October 2009

Everyone who joined our letter writing campaign back in April would have finally received a response from the RTA’s CEO Michael Bushby.

The response took more than six months and only regurgitated the RTA position from 18 months ago.

How could it possibly take six months to compose a “cut and paste” standard response? Is there something seriously wrong in the RTA? Is the RTA just stalling? Does the RTA hold the community in contempt?

The response couldn’t even get CRAG’s name correct. How professional is the RTA?

The body of Mr Bushby’s letter is quoted below:
Thank you for your suggestion concerning funding for the bicycle crossing of the Lower Prospect Canal Cycleway. I apologise for the delay in responding.

Construction of Reconciliation Road by Boral Pty Ltd, developers of the Greystanes Quarry, involved cutting through the Southern wall of the quarry, thus severing the former cycleway path. The obligation on Boral Pty Ltd to re-connect the cycleway will be achieved by the provision of ramps to Reconciliation Road and the construction of a set of signals for assisted crossing of the roadway.

The Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) considers that the signalised crossing of the four traffic lanes of Reconciliation Road will provide a safe, controlled crossing point for pedestrians and cyclists, and the crossing meets design criteria established in the NSW Bicycle Guidelines (2005) for such facilities.

Currently the RTA is investigating the likely cost and technical aspects of a potential future bridge. Preliminary advice received by the RTA is that a bridge at this location would cost in the order of $3 million, a figure reliably based on recent tendered figures of similar structures. This is substantially more than the $1.3 million cost suggested on the Canal Reservation Action Group's web-site. With regards to the proposition of deriving funding for the bridge from advertising on the bridge structure the RTA's experience is that the volume of traffic anticipated on Reconciliation Road will not attract market interest or significant income.
The RTA considers that the signalised crossing will be safe. Well, it won’t be as safe as the cycleway we had before the RTA destroyed a section of the canal.

The RTA is now quoting a figure of $3 million dollars for a bridge. They have provided no substantiation for the figure. What does that include? Things that we don’t want, or need, or infrastructure items not relevant to the situation? Is it a figure concocted to scare the community off?

The Parramatta Advertiser carried a story on 9 September 2009 (page 22) of a $3 million dollar pedestrian bridge over Silverwater Road at Rydalmere. It has elevators and stairs. Are these the sort of things included in the canal bridge estimate? We don’t need them!

What is wrong with the type of pedestrian bridges over the M7? A simple steel and concrete structure as pictured below.

The community would be happy with a Bailey Bridge. The community just wants the cycleway to continue without vehicle interruption as it did previously.

The RTA dismisses the idea of funding derived from advertising, yet provides no figures to substantiate such an offhand dismissal. The advertising material we have seen for the estate certainly quotes substantial traffic figures for Reconciliation Road. Who is not being upfront with us here?

The response is an insult to the community. The RTA has known the issues since at least April 2008 (but actually much longer given CRAG’s correspondence from 2001), but has no real answers to the issues. Has the RTA been asleep at the wheel?

What the RTA needs to understand is that the community is not asking for something new. The community is merely asking the RTA to restore something they have destroyed – A SAFE CYCLEWAY without vehicle interaction.

We will be examining the RTA’s actions on this project in more detail over the coming months and will report our findings to the community here, so please check back regularly.

some good news – at last
Monday, 19 October 2009

From Saturday, 31 October 2009, temporary weekend cycleway access to Prospect Reservoir will be restored along the Canal Reserve.

All construction and traffic movements, on the Boral site, will be halted to allow the cycleway to be opened on Saturdays from 2:00pm to 7:00pm and on Sundays from 7:00am to 7:00pm.

As we move into summer it is hoped that construction activities on the site will allow seven day access, however, this will be dependant upon all safety issues being addressed. CRAG is involved with ongoing meetings with Boral and more information will be provided as it is available

Whilst we are disappointed that the opening is twelve months late, we are pleased that the community will once again have access to Prospect Reservoir and its facilities.

The temporary opening of the cycleway will offer safe access to Prospect Reservoir, however, when the new roadway is complete, and opened, the permanent access will not be as safe the original Canal Reserve cycleway.

For this reason CRAG intends to continue the “Build our Bridge” campaign indefinitely, until the RTA and the NSW State Government ensure that a SAFE cycleway is returned.

meeting with minister
Friday, 11 September 2009

Representatives of the Canal Reserve Action Group Inc. (CRAG), at the invitation of the Member for Smithfield, Ninos Khoshaba, joined with representatives of Fairfield and Holroyd City Councils and the Cumberland Business Chamber to present a joint submission to the Minister for Roads, Michael Daley, on 9 September 2009 at Parliament House.

The meeting provided an opportunity for CRAG, the local councils, and the business community to outline to the Minister the issues raised in the submission and seek his support and intervention.

CRAG made the following points in the submission regarding the return of a safe cycleway.
  • A very safe cycleway was opened to the public on the reserve in 2004.

  • The RTA failed to honour their 2001 commitment to consult with the community if the cycleway was to be cut.

  • The RTA, despite having plans for a bridge, unilaterally removed the requirement for a bridge.

  • The RTA substituted a signalised at-grade crossing for a bridge.

  • A signalised at-grade crossing is THE PROBLEM not the solution.

  • The RTA advises that between the years 1988 and 2007, 514 pedal cyclists were killed and 41,210 pedal cyclists were injured on NSW roads. With this many documented deaths and accidents the RTA is advocating that an at-grade crossing across a road that has four traffic lanes and two transit lanes is a safe alternative to a bridge. The community does not accept this logic.

  • The community is demanding that a safe cycleway be returned.

  • The Mayors of Blacktown, Fairfield and Holroyd proposed in March 2009 that an underpass could be incorporated in the revised plans to raise the road above flood levels.

  • This underpass proposal has been ignored, even though it is safer than a signalised at-grade crossing.

  • Boral are offering to include an underpass for the RTA at cost, however, the works would need to commence in the next month.

  • An underpass crossing of Reconciliation Drive is supported by the Canal Reserve Action Group Inc., Bicycle NSW, Boral Limited and Blacktown, Fairfield and Holroyd City Council.

  • The community sees a bridge as the safest solution.
The Minister listened to all the issues and has promised to have them reviewed. CRAG stressed the importance of a decision regarding an underpass being made in the next month as Boral have highlighted the cost benefits of such a solution will only be available whilst they are working on that section of the roadway in the near future.

We will be following up for a response, and report on progress (or lack of) as soon as possible.

meetings with boral
Friday, 4 September 2009

In a promising sign, Boral has invited members of CRAG to two meetings in the last week.

The first meeting included a tour of the construction site which has provided us with a better understanding of the exact location of roadworks and the likely levels of various cycleworks given the grades of the site.

More meetings are scheduled. We are hopeful of some good news regarding the reopening of the cycleway soon.

We will report progress here as soon as possible.

a green view
Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Following Lea Rhiannon's visit to the Canal Reserve on 22 July 2009, Lea has voiced her feelings about the Canal Cycleway being blocked, and the failure of the Roads Minister to intervene to ensure the promised bridge is provided.

Lea's commentary can be found on her blog.

liberals pay a visit
Wednesday, 12 August 2009

The NSW Shadow Minister for Planning, Brad Hazzard, met with CRAG members on 5 August 2009 to discuss the issues surrounding the destruction of the Canal Cycleway.

The meeting was held within view of the Boral construction site to give Brad an appreciation of the works in progress.

Other representatives of the NSW Liberal Party also attending were Ross Grove (Councillor, Holroyd City Council), Gregg Ritchie (Councillor, Holroyd City Council) and Zaya Toma (Councillor, Fairfield City Council) who were able to provide information on other controversial issues of the Boral project.

(Photo shows Brett Meade (CRAG), Steve Norton (CRAG),
Councillor Ross Grove, Brad Hazzard and Fred Crowe (CRAG).)

Brad committed to making representations, to both the NSW Government and Boral, on behalf of the community to have a safe cycleway returned.

He also advised that the Coalition was committed to scrapping the section of planning law that allows approvals to bypass local councils which has lead to this problem on the Canal Reserve.

greens pay a visit
Friday, 31 July 2009

Following a meeting between CRAG members and Lee Rhiannon (Greens MP, NSW Legislative Council) at NSW Parliament House on 2 April 2009, and the attendence of Doug Williamson (Secretary, Greens Parramatta) at CRAG's monthly meeting in June, both Lee and Doug visited the Lower Prospect Canal Reserve on 22 July 2009.

Members of CRAG joined Lee and Doug to cycle the length of the Canal Reserve. This allowed us to explain the history and unique character of the Reserve to Lee and Doug and to seek their support in having our safe cycleway/walkway returned.

(Photo shows Steve Norton, CRAG President and Lee Rhiannon)

Sylvia Hale (Greens MP, NSW Legislative Council) has previously raised question regarding the Canal Reserve, in Parliament, of both the Minister for Roads and the Minister for Planning, on behalf of the community.

Lee has promised to again raise the issue when Parliament resumes next month.

The Parramatta Sun newspaper has covered this visit and the story can be viewed by clicking here.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Whilst Boral are keen to erect fences over the canal cycleway, they don't seem so keen to maintain the cycleway adequately.

The photo below shows how the cycleway has been neglected by Boral - it is nearly overgrown with grass and blackberry.

At this rate, by the time Boral return OUR cycleway it may have disappeared. If Boral are allowed to retrict access to OUR land why aren't they required to exercise a duty of care?

As you can see, Boral have erected threatening "Trespassers will be prosecuted" signs on land owned by the community. So they are more than willing to commandeer a community asset, but not willing to look after it. Boral workers have also been seen driving vehicles on the roof structure of the historic "Covered Way" in total contempt for its historic value or the possible damage they may cause.

What sort of community member is Boral?

too little, too late
Friday, 10 July 2009

In the last week, some detour signs have finally appeared on the canal cycleway. Fifteen months, yes, fifteen months after Boral closed the path.

Yet it appears that the signs may not even be the work of Boral, as they have a Holroyd City Council logo in the corner. On that basis, it seems that Boral are still content to snub their nose at the community (which buys their products), by refusing to erect the signs, as per their own Plan of Management.

If Boral can't project manage a few signs to alleviate a safety issue, they have created, one has to wonder about the quality of the project management of the overall project. We hear that the road they are building (that has destroyed the canal cycleway) is being built below certain flood levels. Will the road be safe? Do we want to risk another incident like the tragic deaths in Gosford, due to inadequate road works and a bit of rain? The Councils of Holroyd, Blacktown and Fairfield have raised the flood safety issue with the NSW Minister for Planning. If the new road can't be proved to be safe enough maybe it shouldn't be allowed to open.

As for the new detour signs, you shouldn't rely on them to guide you around the Boral works. The rudimentary nature of the signs means that only people very, very familiar with the local area would have a hope of following them. If you want clear details of the detour click here.

response, or lack of
Saturday, 25 April 2009

By now everyone who sent one of our letters to Boral, asking them to work with the government and community, would have received a response from Boral.

It is disappointing that the response shows that Boral have no desire to work with the community. We feel the response flies in the face of the Boral Code of Corporate Conduct claim that they intend to meet “community expectations”.

When Boral responds with “we believe our actions have been consistent with our values”, do they realise just how badly that reflects on their values?

Our letter to Boral didn’t ask for them to provide funds, merely to consult with stakeholders. Why is Boral always so adversarial and dismissive? Why does Boral seem to court controversy ? Why won’t Boral support the community in which they operate?

If you purchased products from these companies:
Blue Circle Southern Cement, DeMartin & Gasparini, Dowell Windows & Doors, Brendale Windows & Doors, Midland Brick, Boral Asphalt, Boral Bricks, Boral Clay Pavers, Boral Concrete, Boral Formwork & Scaffolding, Boral Masonry, Boral Plasterboard, Boral Plywood, Boral Quarries, Boral Roofing, Boral Timber
you have supported Boral. Do you feel Boral are supporting you?

As yet, we aren’t aware of anyone having received a response from the Minister for Roads or the CEO of the RTA.

spin, spin, spin
Monday, 16 March 2009

It seems that Boral have realised the damage they have done to their brand with the stance they have taken on the Canal Reserve Cycleway. They have called in the spin doctors to handle their media releases.

The spin firm, from the top end of town, claim to be experts in “Crisis Management”, “Issues Management” and to quote the spinners website “We focus on influencing public and stakeholder opinion”.

Strange that Boral have the money to pay up-market corporate communications specialists when they are crying poor over the provision of a bridge to replace the section of cycleway they have destroyed.

Maybe the funds for the spinners should have been directed towards a bridge fund as that would be a far better way to “influence public opinion”.

Boral should rethink this, and realize that the more the public feels they are being manipulated the more Boral’s reputation will approach the status of Bonds.

The key thing here is to realise that announcements from Boral are subject to the unique interpretations of the spinners and you should examine them to understand how your opinion is “being influened”. Ignore that influence, come to our solution web page and send some of the letters we have pre-prepared to Boral and the relevant government officials.

the solution
Wednesday, 28 February 2009

Support CRAG's initiative that we have published on our "the solution" webpage.

Please visit the solution page and write a letter to those listed asking them to adopt the no extra cost solution we are proposing.

For those who are time poor we have provided example letters that you are free to copy and send off.

build our bridge
Wednesday, 25 February 2009

CRAG will be publishing our proposal for the way forward this weekend.

Please visit this site from Sunday 1 March 2009 to understand the direction we are taking and join with us in pushing for a cost effective solution that should have been followed from the start.

coming soon
Sunday, 15 February 2009

It is now coming up for ten months since the cycleway was destroyed. In that time it seems that the RTA, Boral and the Department of Planning have not been able to come up with a plan to restore our safe cycleway. That seems strange when they say they are working for us. It seems they don't really care about the community.

As these people have dropped the ball, CRAG will shortly be proposing a solution that can be a winner for all parties. In 1994 the responsible government departments weren't able to come up with a plan for the Canal Reserve other than housing. CRAG came up with a plan that was acceptable to the community back then, that culminated in the creation of the Canal Reserve. We now intend put forward a proposal, and we will need your help and support if it is to be a success.

So please be ready in the coming weeks to write letters to support our proposal once we publish.

As we feel this may take a while we are also looking to the community for financial support. We didn't give up to have the Canal Reserve created even though it took 10 years and we don't intend to give up this time either. Your donations will help keep us in the game for the long haul.

see you soon
Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Please note that this web site will not be updated again before the last week of January 2009 - unless major events affecting the Canal Reserve happen before then.

At that time we will kick off our new campaign direction for 2009.

Please join us in the new year and lend your support as we ramp up the "Build our Bridge" campaign.

The CRAG Committee would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a safe and prosperous New Year and to thank you for your support during 2008.

seven months
Thursday, 27 November 2008

It has now been seven months since our cycleway has been closed and the silence from the RTA and Boral is deafening.

What are they doing? Are they even talking? Where is the feedback to the community? Why are they apparently making no effort to restore what they have taken from the community?

Boral is now attempting to hide behind the trite line that "it is therefore illegal under the approvals granted in July 2007 for Boral to construct a bridge". How disingenuous is that statement?

So the question to Boral is now "If NSW Planning granted approval for a bridge overnight, would you build it, as it now wouldn't be illegal?"

I think we all know the answer to that question. So Boral, stop treating the community with contempt, and start to "meet the community expectations" you are so proud of in your Code of Corporate Conduct.

Boral, talk to the RTA, come up with a workable solution to build our bridge and submit a planning amendment so that building a bridge wouldn't be "illegal". It can't be that hard, or are you hell bent on shredding any credibility the Boral brand has left.

permanent fence in place
Friday, 31 October 2008

The permanent chain wire fence that we mentioned yesterday was completed today. The photo below shows the progress.

This feels very, very permanent. And the no trespassing signs leave you with the feeling that our reserve has been stolen.

No doubt we'll be fed the old chestnut about public safety - it's got nothing to do with keeping prying eyes away from the project or just how long our cycleway will be closed. Yet, it is a failure from safety point of view as the photo below shows that children will be easily able to scale the lower green bar fencing over the Covered Way.

On another aspect of this, will Boral be remediating the area around the fence work? It is has been left with vegetation trampled, footpaths churned up and mud, dirt and tyre tracks all over the pathways. There appears to have been little concern for the community's property on this job.

Not good enough Boral. But then the community has made it clear that Boral's actions from the start of this project have not been seen as good enough.

Boral, it is time to lift your game and BUILD OUR BRIDGE.

Please write to the people detailed on our contacts page and demand that our SAFE cycleway is returned. If you have already written, please write again. The clear message is BUILD OUR BRIDGE.

when does temporary equal permanent - boral's new definition
Thursday, 30 October 2008

Construction of a permanent chain wire fence commenced today as a replacement for the temporary fencing that has been blocking the canal cycleway since April.

This would certainly indicate that the canal cycleway is not going to be re-opened any time soon. A large hole has been core drilled into the cycleway and a substantial post permanently concreted in place. All other bollards on the cycleway are removable for emergency/maintenance vehicle access.

Why is something so permanent required for what is supposedly a short term issue?

Why are we hearing rumours that the construction works will not be completed for at least another 12 months?

Did Boral botch their project planning by not allowing a contingency for problems? or did they always know the cycleway would be closed for an extended period, but knew the community would be outraged that they failed to provide a temporary cycleway through the site as per the original plans?

If the community is to be deprived of our cycleway for such an extended period of time then there will be plenty of time to BUILD OUR BRIDGE. Please write to the people detailed on our contacts page and demand that our SAFE cycleway is returned. If you have already written, please write again. The clear message is BUILD OUR BRIDGE.

access closed indefinitely
Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Access to and from Prospect Reservoir via the canal cycleway is now closed indefinitely. A few days before the originally promised opening date the original sign was replaced with one with no re-opening date.

Here is the original and replacement sign.

John Imrie from Boral has written to advise Holroyd City Council the following:
"Unfortunately as a result of latent geotechnical issues encountered in the construction of the adjacent Widemere East detention basin, works on the regrading of the cycleway have been significantly delayed. As a consequence, the closure of the cycleway will need to remain in place and the temporary diversion maintained. Major earthworks and blasting are still to be completed in the area and the safety risk to the public is still significant.

I will write to you again once we can accurately forecast the reopening of the cycleway."
For those not fluent in gobbledegook, we are advised that "latent geotechnical issues" means that contaminated rubbish and soil has been found on the site, and will need to be safely disposed.

It is disappointing that the "temporary diversion" has still not been signposted by Boral as promised in their Cycleway Management Plan even though the cycleway has been closed since April. Although CRAG does not recommend using the detour, for safety reasons, we have prepared a map and description of the detour for those who need to find an alternate route.

The upshot of this news is that it appears the public will not have a safe and healthy way of visiting Prospect Reservoir during the summer/daylight saving months ahead. Boral and the RTA continue to inconvenience the community, yet refuse to commit to building a bridge that will return our SAFE cycleway. Please write to the people detailed on our contacts page and demand that our SAFE cycleway is returned. If you have already written, please write again.

crag needs your help
Saturday, 18 October 2008

Whilst the CRAG Committee gladly gives their time to protect the Canal Reserve, there are some things that volunteering time and effort just can’t provide.

For these things we need funds, and we look to the community who enjoy the Reserve to help us. Donations as small as $2 will help defray the costs of running a community funded group prepared to stand against any threats to the Reserve and the enjoyment it provides.

The costs we face are things such as:
  • postage
  • stationery
  • printing and copying
  • internet costs (domain names, hosting)
  • incorporation fees
  • insurance fees
The CRAG Committee is quite frugal. It is the same individuals who fought from 1994 to 2004 to have the Lower Prospect Canal Reserve created. That 10 year battle was fought on less than $2,000 so we are not looking for huge donations – although if you are feeling generous, larger donations help us concentrate on protecting the Reserve and cycleway/walkway, and not on chasing donations.

Donations to CRAG can be made via Paypal:

Alternatively, cheques made payable to "Canal Reserve Action Group Inc" can be posted to the following address:

The Public Officer
48 Grevillea Crescent
Greystanes NSW 2145

mark your diaries - send a clear message
Wednesday, 1 October 2008

It seems that Boral intend to totally ignore the community with regard to the destruction of the canal reserve cycleway, refusing to respond to correspondence or provide any meaningful community feedback.

Consequently it seems the community will need to take the "Build our Bridge" message directly to Boral's Board and shareholders.

Whilst shareholders may not see any value in replacing the safe cycleway they have destroyed, they can surely see the damage Boral's Board and Management are doing to the Boral brand by snubbing the community, the community that purchases Boral products and thus sustains the company.

The most effective method to achieve direct contact and acknowledgement by the Board and shareholders will be to attend the upcoming Boral Annual General Meeting.

For any shareholders reading this who will be attending the AGM, and care about the community, we implore you question the Board on why they refuse to respond to community expectations and why the Board is so happy to damage Boral's standing in the community.

The meeting is set for Friday, 24 october 2008 at 10:30am and is to be held at the City Recital Hall, Angel Place, Sydney. To effectively get the message across to shareholders it would be best to be there by 9:15am.

If you can make it on this day please mark your diary NOW.

Boral needs to understand that the community is not happy and that we expect them to start honouring their Code of Corporate Conduct which states:

“Ensuring the impact and integrity of our operations and actions on employees, customers, the communities and environment in which we operate, meet both the spirit and letter of the law and community expectations”.
Everyone in the community, that we talk to, feels that Boral is failing miserably in meeting community expectations. Why is it that Boral can't see that?

new players
Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Following the upheaval in the ranks of the NSW State Government in last few weeks, we now have a new set of players responsible for ensuring that a SAFE cycleway is returned to us.

This means that these new Ministers need to understand the issue, and understand that we are not going to allow it to rest until we see a positive result.

We have updated our government contacts page with the new Minister's/Member's details and it is essential that everyone writes/emails letters of protest to each of the contacts listed. Even if you wrote to the previous contacts it is important that you now contact the new people and voice your disapproval at the situation.

Don't be put off that we have listed Nathan Rees and David Borger twice. They both have dual responsibilities that are connected with the issue, and there are separate addresses for each responsibility. So please write to them at each address in the vein we have suggested with the contact details.

Please click here and send your protest today.

detour finally open
Friday, 12 September 2008

The contruction site detour link track into the Nelson's Ridge estate is finally open. Work is still continuing on the permanant perimeter fencing, however, the orange construction fencing has been removed, which would mean the track is available for use.

Signposting of a full detour to Prospect Reservoir from the Canal Reserve has not happened, so the full detour route is far from obvious for those who don't know the estate or the industrial area on the western side of the ridge.

Riding through the industrial estate is also far from safe, as the roads, and warehouse entrances, can be busy during the week and the footpaths are dangerously overgrown for children, who are allowed on the footpaths.

Use this detour with care. We do not really recommend using the full detour at all for safety reasons, however, as Boral has failed to provide a safe alternative while construction is underway some people may not have a choice.

For easier viewing click here for a larger map then click the red line to see a description of the detour route.

View Larger Map

still waiting
Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Another two weeks have passed and Boral still haven't had the courtesy to respond to the community regarding the replacement of a safe cycleway.

Good morning Boral. When are you going to respond to the community?

detour delays
Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Over two weeks ago we advised that the construction site detour track concrete had finally been poured. Progress on the site, since then, has been moving at a snail's pace.

Mulching and planting has been completed and a few signs and bollards have been installed, but still the site is surrounded by orange temporary fencing.

Given the procrastination, it is no wonder people have been laying the fence down to use the path on weekends.

A more than 4 month delay in providing a detour is just not good enough. Again we ask, why Boral didn't do anything about a detour before destroying the safe cycleway.

When will the detour be finally available for use?

we await a response
Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Nearly four months after Boral destroyed the SAFE cycleway, they have not had the courtesy to provide a meaningful response to correspondence from CRAG regarding the replacement of a SAFE cycleway.

Shame, shame, shame.

We await your response Boral.

profits, profits, profits
Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Boral has announced an annual profit for 2008 of $243 million yet still refuses to replace the safe cycleway they have destroyed.

According to the announcement, Boral's Australian revenue rose 13% and Australian earnings rose 9% - that's a profit increase to Boral from the Australian community, the same community that Boral has taken a safe cycleway from, and the same community Boral is refusing to communicate with.

The announcement invites you to contact the CEO & Managing Director, Rod Pearse, on 02 9220 6490 for more information. Why not give Mr Pearse a call personally (make sure you get through to him) and ask him why Boral will not return a cycleway as safe as the one they have removed. Surely with a profit of $243 million mainly derived from our community Boral can afford to "Build our Bridge". Surely Mr Pearse can see that that is the community expectation.

Remind Mr Pearse of Boral's Code of Corporate Conduct:
“Ensuring the impact and integrity of our operations and actions on employees, customers, the communities and environment in which we operate, meet both the spirit and letter of the law and community expectations”.

still no detour
Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Deadlines for the contruction site detour keep passing, and after nearly four months, the detour still isn't available for use. The last deadline, one of many, was 18 August 2008.

The good news is that the last of the detour track concrete was finally poured today. However, the concrete still needs to cure, there is remediation and landscaping to be completed, and the site will need to be made safe by the reinstatement of fences. So, opening of the link will not be happening immediately.

And a note to those responsible. We did notice the damage to the heritage canal wall! Why wasn't entry into the canal done in an approved manner?

not good enough
Monday, 4 August 2008

Presumably by now, anyone who wrote to the Minister for Roads or the Minister for Western Sydney would have received this form letter from the Minister for Roads. There are two versions of the form letter; the first paragraphs differ, as does the signatory. Commoners only receive the version signed by the parliamentary secretary.

The letter is appallingly inadequate. The bulk of the letter deals with the detour, which was announced with much fanfare at the start of July. Yes, we knew all about it over a month ago. We write to Ministers to get real answers because their departments and corporates like Boral refuse to provide adequate feedback to the community, yet all we get is reporting of stale news. Not good enough Mr Roozendaal!

And the detour will NOT be finished before the end of July. It will not be finished any earlier than 18 August 2008 - and will no doubt be subject to further delays. This will mean that it has been four months between the destruction of the safe cycleway by Boral and the provision of a detour. If the delays continue at this rate, the unsafe highway crossing will be completed before the construction detour is in place. Boral should have had the link completed before they were allowed to destroy the canal cycleway. Not good enough Mr Roozendaal!

The question begging from all this is - Why is the RTA and not Boral funding the detour link? Boral destroyed the canal and committed to a detour and signage, yet never delivered. Boral wanted links into their Nelson's Ridge estate as a selling point to show how community minded they think they are, yet have managed to get the RTA to fund their link. Corporate welfare never seems to end. Why didn't the RTA (or NSW Planning) have a service level agreement and penalty clauses to ensure Boral delivered? Not good enough Mr Roozendaal!

So the real issue that concerns the community is still left virtually unaddressed. A mere 19 words of a 280 word letter refer to the issue: "I am also advised the RTA is exploring, with Boral, options for the permanent reconnection of the Lower Prospect Canal Cycleway." What does that mean Mr Roozendaal? It sounds like weasel words to us, something to fob off the community. It certainly doesn't mean there is any commitment to return our SAFE cycleway. Not good enough, we want a real answer Mr Roozendaal!

In the last paragraph Mr Roozendaal pushes us to "the RTA's Transport Planning Manager, Mr Matt Faber on 8849 2237". Well guess what, that isn't even Mr Faber's phone number. For anyone interested the real phone number is 9218 3903 but you would be wasting your time. We have managed to contact Mr Faber and - wait for it - he doesn't know anything about the "options for the permanent reconnection of the Lower Prospect Canal Cycleway". It is being handled by someone else in the RTA and Mr Faber doesn't know who that would be. It is clear that the community is being treated with contempt by both Boral and the RTA. Not good enough Mr Roozendaal!

After so many months we were hoping to be able to praise Mr Roozendaal for stepping in and bringing some commonsense to the table, but we have been bitterly disappointed with such an impotent response. Mr Roozendaal, it is time for you to personally have words with Boral to ensure that our SAFE cycleway isn't sacrificed for the opportunity for Boral to record even higher profits at the community's expense.

We implore everyone who received a response from the Minister's office to reply to Mr Roozendaal (don't bother with secretaries) and let him know that his response is inadequate and just not good enough. Ask him to personally intervene to have our SAFE cycleway restored, as it seems his department is not achieving anything.

If you haven't already written to Mr Roozendaal, please do it now (and encourage everyone you know to write as well), as his response to date indicates he doesn't think enough people care about the issue. His contact details can be found here.

the kings of spin
Sunday, 3 August 2008

Once again Boral is singing their own praises as heroes to the local community in this press release on their website.

Whilst the objectives of the project are worthy and environmentally desirable, some of the side effects are not. Possibly Boral should remember the old adage "self praise in no recommendation" as their press release pumps up the positives while ignoring some of the realities.

The project involved the laying of a pipeline from the southern extremity of the Boral site to the Cumberland Country Golf Club. The pipeline now runs along the Lower Prospect Canal Reserve for much of its length. The pipe was laid through a designated regrowth corridor under the pretence that it was a maintenance road - it isn't.

Although viable alternate routes, that didn't impact on the reserve, were available and highlighted by CRAG, they were ignored and the regrowth corridor was ripped up and trampled. Four years of regrowth destroyed for a commercial project. We don't regard that as environmentally responsible.

The press release paints a glowing picture of Boral the community minded corporate with quotes such as: "En route to the golf course water will also be available for the irrigation of selected public parks and Greystanes Public School grounds."

What they don't mention is that all this means is that there will be a tap at Hylands Road and Greystanes Public School. No mention that an expensive filtration and pumping system may be required (as indicated in this council document where water treatment is proposed) to make the water usable. More community expense.

We are hearing reports that the groundwater is salt contaminated which, if true, makes it useless. Strange that Boral didn't detect this during the "extensive period of investigation". Similar to how they didn't pickup that the regrowth corridor wasn't a road during such a thorough investigation.

Boral advises: "This project is supported by the NSW Government Water Savings Fund and the Australian Government community water grants, as well as contributions from Cumberland Country Golf Club members."

Interestingly there is no mention that Boral had a financial interest in the project. Could that be because they didn't fund it?

At the end of the day, Boral had a problem with excess water and it seems that various sectors of the community have paid to solve Boral's problem and have allowed a community reserve to be compromised. Yet Boral refuse to fund a bridge to replace the SAFE cycleway they have destroyed to generate more record profits. We are so glad that Boral supports the community in such a generous way and it certainly causes us to look carefully whenever we see Boral trumpeting their good deeds.

frustration is showing
Monday, 28 July 2008

CRAG does not condone the vandalism of the temporary fence that blocks the Lower Prospect Canal Reserve cycleway construction area near Hyland Road Greystanes. The purpose of the fence is to protect children and unwary cyclists/walkers from the inherent dangers of Boral's construction work. We would implore whoever has removed the fence to not add to the dangers already created by Boral removing our safe cycleway.

While CRAG does not condone the actions, it shows the level of frustration within the community at the arrogance of Boral and the Minister for Roads. Three months after ambushing the community, by destroying the cycleway, the community has not had any meaningful responses from Boral or the Minister after repeated calls for the return of a SAFE cycleway.

This level of arrogance and disregard for the community is simply not acceptable. Please write to Dr Ken Moss, Boral Chairman and Eric Roozendaal, Minister for Roads and tell them that you expect meaningful responses to the community's concerns in a timely manner. The stalling tactics are contemptuous and these individuals need to understand that.

nothing like being ignored
Saturday, 19 July 2008

Nearly three months have passed since the community was ambushed by Boral, destroying a section of the Lower Prospect Canal Reserve cycleway/walkway and we still don't have any REAL answers from Boral or the NSW State Government.

As previously advised here, Sylvia Hale (Greens MLC) posed questions to both the Minister for Planning and Minister for Roads regarding the reinstatement of a safe cycleway. Finally after nearly six weeks, answers from both Ministers have now been posted to the NSW Governments website, here (Roads) and here (Planning).

Well, aren't the answers a treat. Calling them answers is actually incorrect, they are merely responses, they tell us nothing about the issue. However, they do tell us a lot about how the community's wishes are viewed by the Ministers.

The Minister for Roads couldn't even be bothered to address the points raised and he finishes with the statement "The RTA is exploring with Boral, options for the permanent reconnection of the Lower Prospect Canal Cycleway." Add that to the quote from Joe Tripodi (filling in for Eric Roozendaal) "The weight of the argument, and desire to get the bridge is there, but they will have to compare it to all their other capital works priorities." and you can see we are being softened up for the bad news.

Given the fanfare for a tiny section of cycleway link to make the diversion around the Boral construction easier it seems the NSW Government thinks they are off the hook.

Sorry, we are not that easily misdirected.

But while we're on the subject of the link, why isn't Boral paying for the link? They made the committment to a construction site bypass that they haven't honoured. The link is also a benefit for their Nelson's Ridge housing estate and was originally supposed to be put in by them as part of the estate that is earning Boral millions of dollars. Surely Boral should have funded the link.

Given the progress of time and the lack of meaningful responses from Boral and the Government it is clear that they both need to be reminded that they are NOT off the hook. We are not going away and this issue is not going away.

Please help to push the message home - again. It seems that without persistance we are going to be ignored.

Write to Dr Ken Moss, Boral Chairman and Eric Roozendaal, Minister for Roads and tell them you are not happy with being ignored, and that you expect them to reinstate a cycleway as safe as the one they have destroyed. We aren't asking for anything extra, just that they put the cycleway back the way they found it. Just as their mother's should have taught them.

detour progress
Thursday, 3 July 2008

Some progress finally on the Boral construction site detour today, as Minister Joe Tropodi (standing in for the Minister for Roads, Eric Roozendaal), officially announced that the NSW Government has provided $200,000 to fund a cycleway linkage from the Canal Reserve into the Nelsons Ridge Estate at Pemulwuy.

This detour removes the need to cycle on busy Gipps Road to be able to reach Prospect Reservoir from Greystanes.

The funds have been provided to Holroyd City Council who will manage the construction, which is scheduled to commence on Monday, 7 July 2008 and is expected to take 4 weeks to complete.

This is pleasing news. However, it is something Boral should have addressed back in April when they blocked the Canal Reserve cycleway, without notice, as part of the project work on the Prospect Highway construction.

It does not, however, address the primary concern of the community, which is the reinstatement of a SAFE cycleway on the Canal Reserve. Both the government and Boral are being very quiet on this point with no information forthcoming.

We have a clear message to Boral and the government which is “BUILD OUR BRIDGE” and it seems the community needs to continue to send that message to the contacts on this website, again and again and again. Please send a note today.

questions asked
Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Sylvia Hale (Greens MLC) has now raised questions in the current session of parliament on behalf of the community with regard to the canal cycleway.

Ms Hale has posed Question 1847 to the Minister for Roads who has, to date, not provided any meaningful answers to the community with regards to the cycleway. Please keep writing to the Minister for Roads as he needs to fix the problem.

Ms Hale has also asked the Minister for Planning Question 1846.

It is good to see that at least some of our parliamentarians are making a positive contribution. However, we need the ones with the pursestrings to take notice, and that will only happen if you make an effort and continue to write to the contacts on this website.

boral media statement
Friday, 13 June 2008

Boral have produced a Media Statement that attempts to paint themselves as innocent bystanders in the project that is taking away our safe cycleway and replacing it with an unsafe highway crossing. The media statement is set out below with our comments.

Boral's Statement Our Comments

A new cycleway crossing is to be built at Widemere as part of the multi-million dollar redevelopment of the Southern Employment Lands.

Given that the project has destroyed the existing cycleway, of course access should be restored. However, it should be safe access not a dangerous highway crossing.

The new crossing will be built by Boral at no cost to ratepayers and follows consultation over the past 18 months with Holroyd, Fairfield and Blacktown councils, State Government authorities and residents.

Boral has removed a safe cycleway and will replace it with an unsafe highway crossing. Why should there be a cost to ratepayers? They didn't destroy the cycleway.

What residents were consulted? Why wasn’t a Community Advisory Group formed for serious community consultation.

During construction, the existing cycleway crossing will be closed, according to the Senior Development Manager at the site, John Imrie.

Statement of the obvious. A more accurate statement would be: "has been closed, with no warning".

He said the proposal for the new cycleway, including the changes to the existing canal, had been publicly exhibited in September, 2006, and there had been no objections lodged against the suggested changes by either Council or residents.

The fact remains that the community is unaware of this exhibition and especially any plans to remove safe access to and from Prospect Reservoir. The focus of the exhibit was on the land development and the cycleway removal did not figure prominantly.

The removal of a small portion of the Lower Prospect Canal was expressly approved by the Heritage Council of NSW. This has been done under the supervision of an archaeologist and material collected for an interpretive display.

Why wasn’t this shared with the community for 3 years.

If it’s a small portion of the canal why has Boral told us a replacement bridge would need to be huge.

“The work being undertaken is in line with the approvals received by Boral.” he said. “The plans have not changed since then. Boral is complying with all the relevant planning legislation.”

This has never been in dispute.

Why is Boral defending something that hasn’t been challenged? More to the point is whether Boral is complying with their own internal Code of Corporate Conduct.

Mr Imrie said the closure was expected to be in place for an estimated six months while construction of the new cycleway crossing and the extended Reconciliation Drive was undertaken.”

This is about the only thing that has been communicated to the community, but it was still after the fact. Why wasn’t there advance notice of the closure?

“We apologise to cyclists who use the current crossing regularly for this necessary temporary closure,” he said. “However, the advice from the experts is that such a closure is needed for safety reasons due to the level of heavy machinery involved in the construction of the new roadway and crossing

Of course a heavy construction site will be unsafe - we didn’t even need to consult experts to know that.

The issue is that Boral hasn’t provided a detour as per their own Cycleway Management Plan. The apology should be for not providing a detour as promised.

“We are confident cyclists and local residents will be supportive of the decision on safety grounds, especially since the end result will be a significantly improved road system for the community, which will divert heavy traffic from residential areas in Greystanes.” Closing the cycleway during construction has never been the issue nor has the need for a highway been disputed. Why do Boral keep defending the non issues while ignoring the real issues.

no news
Thursday, 5 June 2008

No news is NOT good news. The community has not received any meaningful feedback from the RTA or Boral. Holding replies from government and blame shifting from Boral are the only responses to date.

Unfortunately, our past experience during the campaign to have the Canal Reserve created, shows that a common strategy is "ignore them and they'll go away". Please don't let them get away with this. Keep sending emails/letters demanding that they Build our Bridge.

The issue has now received coverage in the Parramatta Sun (4 June 2006) and the Parramatta Advertiser (4 June 2006).

Boral has attempted to paint themselves as innocent bystanders in the Parramatta Advertiser (4 June 2006) which mainly quotes from Boral's pre-prepared media statement. The statement ignores the issues and indulges in blame shifting. No matter how Boral attempt to spin this, they have not met the expectations of the community as per their own Code of Corporate Conduct and have lost the trust of the community in which they have operated for 100 years.

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