Angry Toronto residents are calling on Lake Macquarie City Council to overturn its plan to build a six storey complex on the foreshore.
Those rallying against council’s plan for the mixed business-tourism-residential development on two Bath Street blocks have collected 3400 signatures in the past three months on a petition urging a rethink about the proposal and for the land to be made a community park.
A public meeting is being held at Toronto High School on Tuesday night for residents to air their concerns.
Jeff Jansson, a Rotary Club of Toronto Sunrise member who is spearheading opposition to the development, said he hoped the petition would be formally presented to council in the next month.
Mr Jansson said many people he had spoken with believed the development should be scrapped and community parkland be developed in its place.
“I think you’ve only got to look at Warners Bay and the parkland there,” he said
“It was reported the other week as one of the reasons for the economy improving there – people come from all over the place to enjoy that foreshore. This really goes against what [council is] trying to achieve.
“Our concern is over the loss of unique public waterfront land that is currently used by the community with a belief that it is parkland.”
But not everybody is against the plan.
Forrest Lake resident Darren Ryan spoke in favour of the development at last week’s Lake Macquarie council meeting.
Mr Ryan said on Tuesday he believed nearby roads should be upgraded as part of the project, but called the plan “a no-brainer idea”.
“Toronto has been the poor little brother of the west that has always been overlooked,” he said.
“I don’t see why these people are up in arms about it – I just don’t see what the problem is.”
Read more: Community divided on Toronto decision
The Newcastle Herald reported in April that council was preparing a development application for the complex, which would be much taller than the two storey height legal height limit in the area.
A council spokesperson said on Tuesday $9 million worth of improvements to access and amenities were planned for the foreshore between Goffet Park and Bath Street.
She said the mixed-use development would occupy about 10 per cent of the area, with the remainder earmarked as recreational space.
“It is intended the proposed development will create a destination point at the Bath Street end of the foreshore precinct, with the ground-floor commercial space offering opportunities for businesses such as cafes, restaurants, bars, boutiques or watercraft-hire outlets,” she said.
“A significant foreshore buffer will be maintained along the front of the proposed building. As part of the current consultation phase, council is also keen to receive feedback from the community on how a building could integrate with and respond to the rest of the foreshore.”