Councillors agree on new course of action for garden plan

A NEW approach to a strategic plan for the North Coast Regional Botanic Garden has won the support of Coffs Harbour City councillors.

The council will negotiate a 12-month licence with the volunteer-run Friends of the Botanic Garden, while continuing to work on a final strategic plan for the garden's future.

At Thursday's council meeting, a council report had recommended the strategic plan be adopted on a 12-month basis before membership and terms of reference for an interim advisory committee was formed.

But Cr Sally Townley put forwarded an alternative recommendation for a new course of action - a move that won unanimous support of councillors.

Based on the recommendation, the Friends will receive a 12-month temporary licence before the council receives a report on the recommended membership and terms of reference for an advisory committee, appointment of members and a review of the plan before it is adopted.

Cr Townley said it was "critical" to have the licence in place for the Friends and membership on an advisory committee before the plan was re-presented for final adoption.

Cr Townley also questioned various aspects of the original recommendation including potential difficulties in delivering the approximate 80 recommendations within a 12-month trial period.

Marg Murray, president of the Friends, welcomed the new course of action.

"It's a much more sensible approach otherwise the advisory committee is being appointed for something that's already been decided," she said.

She says it's hoped a longer-term arrangement can ultimately be negotiated.

"If you're going to do big developments like extension of the main building and shading around the cafe we need to know we have long term tenure in place," Ms Murray said.

The council's director of sustainable infrastructure Mick Rabey said the council was aiming to work with the Friends to maximise the potential of the garden.



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