PITCHING IN: Friends of the North Coast Botanic Garden volunteers Guy Coenen, Pat Coenen, Marg Murray, Jan Morgan and Bronwen Fox.
PITCHING IN: Friends of the North Coast Botanic Garden volunteers Guy Coenen, Pat Coenen, Marg Murray, Jan Morgan and Bronwen Fox. Trevor Veale

Council to vote on Botanic Garden plan

A FOUR-year strategic plan for the North Coast Regional Botanic Garden would be implanted on a one-year trial basis under a motion heading for tomorrow's Coffs Harbour City Council meeting.

In a report to councillors, it is recommended that Coffs Harbour City Council - in its role as the corporate manager of the Coffs Coast State Park Trust - implement the Draft North Coast Regional Strategic Plan 2017-2020 for an interim period of one year.

The plan aims to set the long-term direction of the garden's operations and recommends a range of methods to generate more profits including a proposed lease of the cafe.

The council says the interim arrangement would enable further consultation with the Friends of the North Coast Botanic Garden - the volunteer group who has previously labelled the plan as a "money grab".

But tomorrow, the council will vote to endorse a negotiated 12-month temporary licence with the Friends for continued occupation and use of commercial ventures including the kiosk and cafe.

Friends of the Garden president Marg Murray said the licence had gone "back and forth" with the council over a period of 18 months.

It currently does not meet the council's standard minimum requirements.

"I know talking to Department of Lands the licence should not be the driving force in the way we operate that could be achieved under a memorandum of understanding," she said.

"The worrying thing is the draft plan - it's still a huge unknown and the main issue is the focus of the plan as not being about the garden and lack of understanding of what it entails.

"It leads me to believe the devil is in the detail."

The council noted the offer by the Friends to enter into a tenure arrangement "should be seen as a breakthrough and a sign that there was potential to build a more extensive and mutually beneficial relationship between the trust and the Friends'".

The motion stated there were "significant benefits for the continued involvement" by the Friends but recognised their concerns of the new management arrangement.

It's proposed that after the 12-month trial, the plan would be re-presented to the council for adoption with a lessons learned analysis.



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