Local government election: A Green vision for Port Stephens

STANDING: Greens candidate for the central ward at the December 4 local government elections, Caitlin Spiller, from Lemon Tree Passage. Picture: Supplied
STANDING: Greens candidate for the central ward at the December 4 local government elections, Caitlin Spiller, from Lemon Tree Passage. Picture: Supplied

"If only we had something that absorbed carbon dioxide (CO2), cooled our homes and streets, prevented road and soil erosion by slowing stormwaters, and provided habitat for our fauna and humans with healthy food."

Well, actually, we do, says Greens Party member Caitlin Spiller, "and now more than ever we need to preserve our trees".

Ms Spiller is aiming to become the first Greens candidate to be elected to Port Stephens Council at the December 4 local government election.

As a committed community worker and small business operator from Lemon Tree Passage, she is standing for the central ward.

"I will work to create cooler, greener streets by protecting and expanding our tree canopies. Trees cool surfaces in their shade by up to 5 degrees and in our climate that matters," she said.

"I want our council to be focused on preserving mature trees and helping us to assess and look at options of keeping as much tree canopy as possible.

"Trees sometimes need felling or lopping, and development often means some removal is inevitable. But clear felling bushland and all mature trees should be a last resort.

"Greens spaces and corridors are vital for wildlife and community well being. While the three R's (rates, roads and rubbish) are council's core business, I think we can walk and chew gum at the same time."

Ms Spiller believes that a progressive council would protect existing trees with stronger policies and enforcement, and increase cover.

"This would be achieved by its own planting and by encouraging community participation . Suitable medium sized native trees could line our streets," she said.

"Their propagation would support the Nelson Bay's Ngioka Centre, local nurseries and community organisations like Tilligerry Habitat, the planting carried out by our wonderful voluntary parks and reserves groups and individual residents as well.

"Imagine our streets and verges shaded by beautiful trees or gardens. The recent sound of summer in Port Stephens seems to be chainsaws and chipping, let's return to the sound of cicadas, birds and children playing in shaded streets."

Central ward is expected to be a battleground for change at this year's council election.

Sarah Smith has indicated she would not be standing, while veterans Steve Tucker and Chris Doohan have thrown their hats in the ring, along with Labor's Jason Wells, Independent Bill Doran and the Greens' Caitlin Spiller.

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