Holiday season arrangements
After another LIRA meeting on this issue in early December with Knysna Municipality (KM), the following was confirmed:
- Law enforcement: Additional Law Enforcement resources have been stationed at LI from December 8 for traffic control and monitoring/controlling bad behaviour. Periodic road blocks will be set up in George Rex Drive.
- Liquor by-laws: KM once again reiterated that they do not have resources to fully enforce the prohibition of drinking alcohol in public spaces.
LIRA has again relayed its sentiment on this matter in a strongly-worded letter to Mayor Willemse, expressing deep concern around KM’s apparent inability to enforce the liquor by-laws, despite other towns/cities in the Western Cape being able to do so. The letter has also been forwarded to DA provincial leaders, Helen Zille and Alan Winde.
- Community safety banners: These have been placed at various spots on the island.
- One-way system past Greenhole is in place for the holiday period.
- Lifeguards: Have been stationed at Greenhole from weekend of December 15.
- Chemical toilets: Eight chemical toilets have been set up – four for Green Hole, two for Bollard Bay and two for Land's End/Thornely park.
- Refuse removal: Additional 'all day' staff have been operating at Greenhole from the weekend of December 15.
LIRA'S YEAR IN REVIEW
Audited annual financial statements for 2018 have been posted on the LIRA website. Highlights are:
Breakdown of expenditure for 2018 is as follows:
- Total 2018 income of R1 377 846 against a budget of R1 395 360
- Total 2018 expenditure of R1 330 080 against a budget of R1 369 974
- Net 2018 income of R47 766 against a budget of R25 364
- Security: R1 080 218
- Public area maintenance: R105 332
- General administration: R97 730
- Steenbok contribution: R46 800
The recruitment and retention of members is an ongoing focus for the LIRA Committee, with personal visits and contacts resulting in LIRA’s strong representation among Island residents.
There are a total of 432 Island properties, and there are currently 321 paying members.
Reasons for non-membership include: 33 properties in transfer/sale, 23 properties with tenants, 13 unknown, 21 unaffordable or stopped paying, and 16 won’t join or resigned.
Membership therefore stands at 74% of all properties, or more accurately 81% of occupied properties. If tenanted properties and financially strained residents are excluded, this total rises to 88%.
MEMBERSHIP LEVIES 2019
2018 levy expenditure: Security: 81%; public area maintenance: 8%; general administration: 7%; and Steenbok Reserve contribution: 4%.
- Monthly levies will be increased from R390 to R410, an increase of 5%.
- Annual levies will be increased from R4400 to R4600, an increase of 4.55%.
Sixteen LIRA Newsletters, Notices and Feedback Reports have been e-mailed to members and other interested parties in 2018, updating them on Island activities and notifying them of forthcoming events.
These e-mails are LIRA’s primary means of communication and are sent to more than 500 addressees.
MailChimp, the global service provider, is used to ensure accurate delivery, records of receipt, opens and other statistics. Readership for 2018 mailings stands at ±60%.
LIRA employs Allsound to provide the Island with security services similar to those found in gated estates.
While there have been no incidents of housebreaking, contact crime or car theft on the Island this year, reported crimes for 2018 include two thefts of bicycles, a ladder, cell phones and a vehicle break-in.
Security remains a major concern, and members are urged to report all incidents to Allsound’s 24-hour Control Room, on 044 382 5589, to ensure prompt reaction.
Six guards provide a 24-hour service in three shifts, monitoring access to the Island, manning CCTV cameras at the entrance and at Green Hole, attending to call outs, and with visible bicycle and dedicated van patrols. Extra security guards are on duty over the Festive Season.
WARD 9 REPRESENTATION
LIRA represents Leisure Islanders on the Ward 9 Committee. Mayor Mark Willemse is our Ward Councillor.
Regular Ward Committee meetings are held, at which a Leisure Island report is tabled and discussed. Island issues raised in 2018 include: the sea wall, management of day-visitors, law enforcement, security, the gum trees, Knysna Tourism, Cearn Hall, disabled access, road surfacing, signage, general municipal services etc.
Feedback is also given on the Integrated Development Plan (IDP) of the Municipality, the broader five-year planning context within which the Ward Committee operates.
Major projects of interest to Leisure Island include water and electricity supply, modernisation of the sewerage treatment works, upgrading of George Rex Drive and the N2 intersection, etc.
Of particular relevance to the Island is the appointment of urban design consultants to compile a new Spatial Development Framework (SDF) for Knysna, with a delivery date of August 2019.
LIRA recommends that members view the Integrated Development Plan on the KM website and familiarise themselves with this important public document.
ENGAGEMENTS WITH KNYSNA MUNICIPALITY
LIRA has had numerous interactions with KM over the past year, has built positive working relationships with municipal departments, and has seen the benefits of this in the service levels the Island has enjoyed.
The Mayor has attended a number of meetings and Island activities and has voiced his appreciation for the work done by LIRA.
A major resurfacing exercise was done on the Island’s roads, and road markings and signage are well maintained. LIRA has requested a greater input into the prioritisation of roads for resurfacing in the 2019 maintenance cycle.
The work of the Parks Department has generally been good, with verges and public open spaces trimmed regularly, and bush cuttings collected promptly.
Refuse collection is reliable and efficient, and litter collection and bin-emptying ensure the Island looks attractive. KM response time to LIRA requests for repairs to street lights, water pipe leaks, potholes etc has been excellent, as has been the free septic tank emptying service.
The Fire Department has assisted LIRA with identifying and marking fire hydrants, and extinguished a garden fire in Horne Drive.
Meetings have been held with the Community Services and Law Enforcement Departments to ensure municipal by laws are enforced, particularly during holiday periods. The by-laws prohibit the consumption of alcohol in public spaces, and LIRA has requested that this be enforced on all the Island’s beaches.
Unacceptable behaviour resulting from excessive liquor consumption remains the major issue for Law Enforcement. Traffic violations, including drunken driving, speeding, and obstructive and illegal parking have also been raised as major concerns.
The Municipality has deployed extra security staff at Green Hole, has implemented the one-way road system, and is undertaking vehicle patrols.
A special effort has been made by Cleaning Services as part of its season preparations. At LIRA’s request additional bins have been placed at Green Hole (including recycling bins), and additional cleaning staff and refuse collections have been deployed.
Temporary chemical toilets have been placed at Green Hole, Bollard Beach and Land’s End for the holiday period.
GUM TREE TRIMMING AND GARDENING
Arising from concerns of members about the risk of fire and falling branches, LIRA has trimmed 27 gum trees along Links Drive, based on expert botanical studies and a fire risk assessment made by the Southern Cape Fire Protection Association.
The work was carried out by a KM-approved contractor. LIRA’s costs have been R97 000, with another R50 000 generously donated by residents. KM has budgeted to trim the remaining 20 trees in early 2019.
The results of the trimming have been positively received – these iconic trees have been retained in a healthy condition, dangerous branches have been removed, free firewood and chippings distributed, and adjacent homes are enjoying the morning sun.
LIRA has also assisted with a number of beautification projects on the Island’s public open spaces. These have often been the result of requests by residents and have included generous donations of labour and funds.
Improved areas include parks in Parkes Road, Kensington Gardens, the bus stop park, and various lagoonside locations. A LIRA gardener maintains the gardens at the Island entrance and at Cearn Hall.
At the request of the LI Country Club (the leaseholder), LIRA has entered into an agreement with them to assist with the management of Cearn Hall.
The Country Club has repaired and repainted the building, and local volunteers have removed overgrown trees and bushes, erected fencing, and planted attractive new gardens.
Interior work has included painting, spring-cleaning and reorganisation, with the assistance of the Fun Raising Committee, Library staff and the Friends of the Library.
A wheelchair ramp, funded by private donations, will shortly be provided.
A meeting has been held with the head of Library Services, and extensions to the Library are being considered.
Ongoing improvements to the Hall facilities will be done as funds are made available, with a view to making Cearn Hall a more attractive and well-used Island asset.
THE SEA WALL COURT CASE
The seawall case was argued in the Cape Town High Court on 30 May 2018.
Judge Papier’s long-awaited judgement was received on the morning of the AGM, and disappointingly was not in LIRA’s favour.
Adv Derek Mitchell, who has been handling this for LIRA on a pro bono basis, will study the judgement and advise the Committee on options available. These will then be put to our Members for comment before any further action is taken in this regard.
INTERIM REPAIRS TO THE SEA WALL
In June 2018, LIRA, after consultation with SANParks, submitted a proposal to the KM and SANParks for interim repairs to be made to the sea wall.
This described a quick and inexpensive approach to making repairs to those sections that are currently collapsing. LIRA believed that this would prevent further costly deterioration of the sea wall, pending the outcome of the court case.
LIRA also recently submitted to KM a proposal for remedial work to the eroded beach at Bollard Bay.
Now that judgement has been handed down in the court case, we will once again be engaging with KM and SANParks to ensure that interim repairs are made to the broken sections of the sea wall, and that the erosion at Bollard Bay is addressed.
NEW ROAD NAME SIGNS
A contract has been awarded to a local signage firm to replace all the Island’s old road name signs and provide new signs where required.
The funding for this project has been raised by the Fun-Raising Committee, an independent group of Islanders who have raised money for the beautification of the Island through social events held during past two years.
The new signs will be to municipal standards, with reflective lettering in an attractive font on a green background. Once erected, early in 2019, the signs will improve the Island’s appearance and make navigation easier.
Although not part of LIRA, the Fun-Raisers act in conjunction with the Committee in deciding how funds are spent. The Island Passport is their most recent fund-raising project - please support this initiative. They can be purchased at Sotheby's offices or the Coffee Shop.
STEENBOK NATURE RESERVE
Steenbok Nature Reserve consists of two Municipality-owned erven on the north shores of the Island, and is jointly managed in terms of an Agreement between the Municipality and LIRA, which expires in 2021.
It is essential to avoid any risk of future development in the area, and to take all steps possible to safeguard Steenbok’s future as a conservation area beyond 2021.
Positive progress has been made this year in obtaining recognition from SANParks of Steenbok as a protected area. MANCOM has attended various workshops in this regard and submitted a Ten-Year Plan to SANParks.
As a result, Steenbok has been incorporated in the updated SANParks Management Plan. The precise status will be known after submission to the Minister, but it is believed the outcome will result in conservation status for Steenbok, and guaranteed security in perpetuity.
Significant progress has been made in the five-year project to eradicate invasive plant species in the area west of the tennis club and in Kingfisher Creek. This project is intended to support the objectives of the Agreement, meet the requirements of environmental legislation, and assist with the process of having Steenbok declared a protected area.
The Reflection Seedpod memorial: Sponsored by local donors, the memorial to the Knysna Fires was unveiled in October in a moving ceremony. The Seedpod is a welcome addition to Steenbok, and provides visitors with a beautiful and symbolic sculpture, with benches for reflection, while acknowledging the sheltering role the Island played in hosting people evacuated from the fire.
Do read a great report on this in the K/P Herald here...
The Reserve has updated its website, and runs a very active Facebook page as a means to communicate Steenbok activities. A posting on the Reflection Seedpod memorial attracted a record of more than 10 000 views.
A wonderful children’s education book, ‘Look Deep into Nature’, has been produced to raise youthful awareness of the pleasures of the Reserve. The book was launched at the Steenbok stall at the Leisure Isle Festival and has been distributed to schools and libraries. All funds from the sale of the book go to the maintenance and upkeep of the Reserve.
The Reserve has also hosted numerous school outings and visits by special interest groups, and continues to be an extremely well managed and popular destination for Island and Knysna residents and tourists, and is a model of effective public-private partnership.
For all the latest Steenbok news, and to become a Friend of Steenbok; visit www.steenboknaturereserve.org.za
LEISURE ISLAND FESTIVAL
This year’s Leisure Island Festival, a highlight of the Island’s social diary, was the most successful yet, with record funds raised by and for local charities. The Festival is hosted and supported by LIRA, and extremely well organised and run by an independent Festival Committee.
THE LIRA COMMITTEE
The LIRA Committee currently comprises ten permanent Island residents, all paid-up LIRA members. All are volunteers who freely give their often-considerable time, energy and expertise in representing our members.
The Committee members are: Keith Hollis (Chairman), Dave Stromberg (Vice Chairman), Clive Bennett, Mary-Anne Beviss-Challinor, James Botha, Paul Kotze, Arjen Meter, Ingrid Meter, Brenda Neall and Declan Nurse.
Three new nominations to the Committee were made and accepted, and so we welcome Myles Ruck, Kerry Evens and George Mackeurtan to the 2019 Committee.
THE LIRA YEAR AHEAD
2018 has been an exciting and eventful year for LIRA. There have been many successes, and some disappointments! 2019 promises to be even more challenging and the Committee has identified a number of activities and projects to pursue in the New Year.
The support of our members and of all Islanders will be crucial in this regard.
Given the dynamic socio-political landscape of Knysna, and the economic challenges facing the KM, the Committee anticipates that 2019 will require greater involvement from LIRA to ensure that Leisure Island retains its status as a residential suburb of choice.
Sea walls: The judgement in the sea wall court case will enable repairs to be made to the broken portions of the sea wall. An environmental process will also need to be undertaken to guide the future major rebuilding of the sea wall. This should also incorporate improvements to the Island’s lagoon frontage generally, and include roads and parking areas, and improved public spaces and facilities. As an interested and affected party, LIRA will have a major role to play.
The preparation of a Spatial Development Framework, as part of the Integrated Development Planning for Knysna, creates an opportunity for LIRA to initiate an ‘Island Vision’ project that encapsulates the views of Island residents on the longer-term future of Leisure Island, and to see that this is incorporated into the Municipality’s plans.
To this end it has been suggested that workshops are held to develop a common vision on how we see the future, and to promote increased consultation and engagement with the Municipal planners.
George Cearn purchased Steenbok Island in 1925 - a real estate transaction that birthed Leisure Island as a suburb and community. With only six years remaining to our Centenary, LIRA intends to launch a project collecting historical information, with a view to compiling a commemorative book on Leisure Island.
Appeals will be made for contributions of memorabilia, photos, reminiscences etc, and volunteers will be sought to assist in this venture.
This is an outstanding NGO, doing vital scientific research into the Estuary.
Visit their website for more about their on-going research, including:
- Knysna Seahorse Status (KySS) project
- The animal ecology of seagrass beds at Knysna
- Benthic processes and the water chemistry of the Knysna Estuary
- Knysna Bait Project