CANTERBURY MUNICIPALITY 130TH ANNIVERSARY
The Hon. KAYEE GRIFFIN
[1.29 p.m.]: Tonight I acknowledge the 130th anniversary of the incorporation of Canterbury municipality in 1879. Over the past 130 years the local government area has seen many changes. Despite the boundaries remaining virtually intact from the original incorporation, today the landscape is different. The first land grant in this area was made in 1793 to Reverend Richard Johnson who named the land Canterbury Vale. In the years following, as transport links increased and employment opportunities arose, many people moved to the Canterbury area. Local residents petitioned the State Government and, despite opposition, the Municipality of Canterbury was proclaimed on 17 March 1879.
At the time of incorporation the municipality covered 2,896 hectares and had a population of around 800 residents. This was a very small base to levy rates in order to pay for services such as roads, bridges and waste collection. Roads were poor, not having been surveyed or aligned, and footpaths were non-existent. In the 1880s the Sydney metropolis experienced remarkable growth in urban development and the completion of the railway line in 1895 led to the area becoming heavily populated. Today Canterbury City Council remains one of the larger councils in the Sydney metropolitan area. At the 2001 census, 48 per cent of Canterbury's residents were born overseas. Known as the city of cultural diversity, the city of Canterbury is now a bustling multicultural hub, with residents representing over 130 nationalities. The council workforce and the elected members reflect the multicultural nature of Canterbury's population.
Over the years one of the most pleasing changes has been the expansion of outdoor recreational facilities. Despite being just 17 kilometres south-west of Sydney's central business district, the city of the Canterbury has a range of excellent outdoor recreational facilities. Historically, lands set aside for public recreation generally were maintained by the government of the day. However, when municipalities were incorporated they became recognised as the most appropriate authorities to maintain these areas under the Public Parks Act 1854. Since the council's inception the provision of open space for recreational use has been a priority. Change and Challenge—a History of the Municipality of Canterbury NSW
written by F. A. Larcombe in 1979 refers to this issue:
From a cursory glance at a map showing the extent of Canterbury's 775 acres of open space one may conclude that the Municipality is well endowed but according to recognised town planning standards, it is actually deficient. The standard, seven acres for 1000 of population, requires Canterbury to have a minimum of 910 acres of open space. The council has been pursuing a consistent policy to make up the deficiency by purchasing properties for conversion into open space.
During the first century of its existence Canterbury City Council strove to acquire further lands for recreational purposes. In the past 30 years council has made it a priority to provide additional open space and recreational facilities for its population. I would like to make special mention of three of the parks and recreation areas in the Canterbury district and acknowledge the contribution of succeeding councils and staff in ensuring access to those excellent facilities. Wiley Park was created after local businessman John Valentine Wiley bequeathed 20 acres of land to Canterbury council for use as a public park or recreation ground following his death in 1895.
During the Great Depression unemployment schemes saw the construction of a new pavilion and cycling arena on this land, which for many years became the home of the Lakemba Cycling Club and the Bankstown Sports Club. In recent years ponds and gardens have been built and maintained as passive recreation. The Bicentennial Amphitheatre, opened in 1988, has the capacity to seat 2,500 people. This amphitheatre is a wonderful community asset and is home to many cultural and community events such as Carols in the Park. Wiley Park is a great facility for local residents and is well utilised by local families seven days a week.
Gough Whitlam Park in Undercliffe is another wonderful outdoor recreation area for Canterbury residents. Originally used for many years as storage place for the Department of Works, building was once prohibited on this land due to pollution. Despite its history, development of this property in recent years has resulted in high-quality sporting and recreational facilities. Gough Whitlam Park is situated on a sprawling area of land along Cooks River surrounded by landscaped gardens, cycle tracks and footpaths. Shade cloths, barbecue facilities, play equipment and sporting fields ensure that this park is an extremely well utilised local facility.
Salt Pan Creek Recreation Area, Salt Pan Creek Wetlands, is another area that has been developed in recent years. This site has seen a wonderful transformation over the past few decades and has come a long way from its origins as the former council tip. Unfit to be built on and plagued by pollution issues, this site has undergone dramatic regeneration and has been transformed into vibrant and interactive parklands. It has been the goal of both council and residents to redevelop this site. The planning process has involved broad consultation over the years and I think the results are a credit to the people of Riverwood and to Canterbury City Council. Once again I congratulate the council on celebrating its 130 years of incorporation. [Time expired