Newsletter from Leisure Isle Residents' Association
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17 September 2022

Dear <<First Name>>,

It has been a while since our last newsletter, but that does not mean your LIRA committee has been idle!

“Change” seems to be current theme applicable to much at present. The UK and much of the world is mourning the passing of an extraordinary monarch, and Leisure Isle, too, recently lost two island legends and we pay tribute to their lives in this newsletter – they are sorely missed.

“Change”, too, is evident on the island in the numerous building projects underway, alterations and new homes being built. The turnover of property sales is astounding and we welcome all newcomers, hoping they will be as happy as those of us privileged to have had a long association with this piece of paradise.

To continue with the theme of “change” it is important to comment on the recent changes at municipal level... While it's extremely disappointing that coalition politics mean yet more leadership upheaval in Knysna, we are committed to continuing our constructive engagement with all parties and do our best to ensure that the interests of the island are met. 

It is time for us to again embark on the lengthy process of preparations for the December season with KM, and we trust that procedures will be in place to allow everyone to enjoy the island at peak time.

See comment below on infrastructure and road maintenance matters that we hope to address.

Please be on the look out for developments regarding progress on the Special Rating Area project (comment below, too) – in the coming weeks there will be plenty of activity in this regard and we will be reaching out to all islanders.  

I would like to thank our security service provider, Allsound, for the huge amount of work that has gone into the phased camera project. The initial phase is going ahead within the parameters of the current budget and we look forward to further expansion in due course. The necessary approvals are being obtained and work should commence shortly – the benefits of camera surveillance and monitoring are evident all around town.

Calling for volunteers! The Committee remains dedicated to serving the Island as best we can, but there is only so much each one of us can do, and several members have busy jobs, too. This is an appeal for more residents to put their hands up to help us, to add fresh energy and skills to the management of this wonderful island.
Please contact me if you're interested in getting involved.

Suffice to say, yet another big thank you to all the members of this committee and to all the volunteers who assist us - and we hope to encourage new helping hands in the months to come.

And back to "change" - it also means the slow move from winter to spring, and how lovely to have shoots of summer everywhere with some amazing floral displays evident in many gardens. Thank you to all our wonderful gardeners!

Kind regards,

Mary-Anne Beviss Challinor

Contact me: Email me here or call 082 651 3767

Update on Special Rates Area

As you are aware, LIRA is progressing the possibility of Leisure Isle becoming an SRA - a development that we believe is the best possible future way to manage our own suburb’s wellbeing in light of stretched municipal capability.
Under the guidance of islanders Mike Gammie and Mark Tonkinson who have given generously of their time and expertise, we are embarking on a series of meetings with relevant role players in the build up to a public participation process. This will afford all islanders the opportunity to ask questions, acquire information and make the right decision about the future management of the island. 

There will be public notifications in the weeks ahead on important dates and timelines.

Here’s the background SRA concept - we've shared this before but feel it important to repeat it here:

WHAT IT IS: A special rating area (SRA) is based on international best practice. It is aimed at preventing the degeneration of towns or areas in towns and the consequential urban decay, and facilitating their upliftment, economic growth and sustainable development.

Knysna Municipality has recently adopted and approved the implementation of SRAs subject to certain terms and conditions, and has published the relevant by-law.

For a number of years, a majority of LI homeowners (some 70-80% of 420 properties) have been voluntarily contributing to the LIRA, with all who live and visit here enjoying the benefits. This is indicative of implied support of LI residents for such a move.

The idea is that an SRA is granted by the municipality and allows residents of a certain area to make an extra rates contribution, which is then allocated specifically to that area for upliftment or improvements where the municipality is unable to provide the required service. The existing annual LIRA contribution is a good proxy for this contribution.

It is believed that the conversion of LIRA into a fully incorporated SRA approved by the KM will provide a much stronger entity dedicated to serving the unique interests of residents and facilitating ongoing urban improvement.

The SRA is not designed to absolve the municipality of its responsibilities and normal basic services continue. It is a contingency for specific projects where the municipality is unable to do so.

NEXT STEPS: The previous Acting Chief Financial Officer (CFO) gave us his guidelines and blueprint for the submission process. Alas, with the constant flux in municipal officials in Knysna this needs to be readdressed with the new Acting CFO which we intend to do in the coming week. We trust the guidelines will be acceptable to her thereby allowing us to proceed .

Once approved, we are required to call a public meeting where the full application is presented and objections can be lodged. During this time, extensive public participation is required and will be arranged, so that all residents can be fully appraised of and debate the plan. This is an important phase, as residents will be called upon to vote for or against the proposal after the public participation phase.

If a 51% majority is achieved, we will submit the formal application for Leisure Island to become a Special Rates Area. Once the application has been submitted, the process follows a strict timetable.

There are over 500 SRAs operating in SA at present, in response to declining levels of municipal services countrywide. Two Cape examples of SRA’s in existence include Llandudno SRA since 2016 and Kleinmond SRA since 2019.

Other areas of Knysna are also keen to become SRAs and are looking to LIRA for guidance and role modelling.

Recruiting new LIRA members

There has been a flurry of properties changing hands over the last 18 months which has negatively affected LIRA membership. We need as many homeowners as possible to contribute to keeping Leisure safe and in good shape.

Barbara Mills is working hard on enlisting new members, and will shortly embark on a multi-pronged membership blitz.

She would welcome any input on new owners - information the estate agents are reluctant to share due to the POPI Act.

If you're a new owner, or your neighbour is, any info you may have, please share it with her. This info is also vital to progress our plans to convert to an SRA.
You can email her here

In the meantime, as part of this campaign, here is a reminder on what LIRA does and what it means for you, and why it's important to be a contributing member!


LIRA's new security contract and planned upgrades

The new security contact with Allsound has been concluded and is functioning well.

The next phase of improving security on LI is to install four new security camera
nodes  that are equipped with AI capability (Artificial Intelligence), as well as a vehicle numberplate recognition camera at the entrance to the island. The cameras will be linked, as all are, to 24/7 security recording and greatly lift our security standards to best practice. 24/7 surveillance is absolutely key to better security.

We have accepted Allsound's new proposal that all security camera equipment is leased to,
and not owned, by LIRA, an arrangement that makes all-round sense.

The second phase envisages additional cameras to be installed on the northern shores of the island.

Infrastructure update

New part-time gardener: Over the past three months LIRA has employed a gardener, Joe, for one day a week to maintain the parks around the entrance of the  Island, cleaning around the security hut, and he also caretakes the litter bins around the island. He has also cut back the grass encroaching on the road around Kingsway Park, Steenbok entrance and
Park and will soon work around the library.

So far this is working well and Joe has added value to the island helping to keep our spaces clean and tidy.  Ultimately, we would love to employ him full-time to work around the island and hope that increased membership or funding will make this possible.
Pothole repairs: We have engaged with KM and, in fact, regularly request repairs to numerous potholes around the island. Hopefully these will be attended to soon. 
Signage: Several signs around the Island have become derelict, broken or need upgrading and we will endeavour to have these repaired before the end of the year.
The seawall: This remains a priority and a year after our last repairs it is time to do another inspection - and we will once again call on our resident professionals to conduct an assessment so that we can ensure the wall is maintained correctly and necessary maintenance done.

Unfortunately, the dispute between KM and SANParks is ongoing without either party accepting liability. Our chairman has on numerous occasions taken this up with the relevant authorities without any response. 
We have now escalated this matter back to national environmental minister, Barbara Creecy, in an attempt to force dialogue between the two parties. We await her response.
Construction: No-one can have failed to notice how many homes are being built or renovated on LI.

LIRA is regul
arly asked to comment and approve  plans that contain departures from the building by-laws. LIRA's stance has always been to try and ensure all new homes and alterations are constructed within the parameters of the local building by-laws and title deed restrictions and avoid departures. This way no resident is prejudiced by the departure application and approval of homes constructed outside of the norm.

Please bear this in mind when designing or planning alterations.

Farewell to two iconic islanders

Sadly, two notable, long-time Leisure Islanders recently passed away; Prof Brian Allanson who lived in Steenbok Crescent for many years, and Lucy Cooke, known to virtually everyone on the island!

Prof Allanson, who left to live in Cape Town late last year to be closer to family, died at 94 on Sunday July 10 at his home in Noordhoek.

A devoted and eminent marine scientist, Prof Allanson was a significant caretaker of the the estuary and was instrumental in setting up the Knysna Basin Project.

We posted this tribute to him at the time of his leaving LI, and here you can can read a wonderful obituary from Rhodes University where he was an academic giant.

Lucy Cooke: A well-known and well-loved character on Leisure Isle. Her association with the Island went back to 1972 - among the long-time residents of the Island there can be very few whose paths did not cross Lucy’s at some stage.
Friendly, amusing, indomitable, feisty, a superb gardener and a passionate devotee of Leisure Isle, Lucy considered herself extremely lucky to have spent so much of her life here. She started a property sales and rentals business on the island in 1988, the precursor to today's Sotheby's. Her daughter, Nadine, is the proprietor of the popular Island Coffee Shop.

You can read the lovely tribute to her here from her wake on August 26.

RIP Brian and Lucy...

Maintaining our public spaces' integrity...

Leisure Island is one of the gems of Knysna and South Africa - in the interests of everyone it is important that we look after our open spaces, common areas and communal parks and beaches.

As we find the KM challenged with maintenance, we would like to encourage residents to ADOPT A VERGE and look after the common areas across the road or around you; to join forces with your neighbours and look after the parks and help beautify the island as a whole.

A prime example of this is the beautifully-looked after park in The Grove. Well done to the residents in this area, and to the many others who look after common property around them. Thank you all!

Abandoned/parked stuff: In recent months LIRA has received numerous complaints from residents about abandoned or long-term parked vehicles, trailers and water craft on common property or parks.

It is only fair to everyone that you ensure the long-term storage of your property within your own property or in a suitable storage facility.

We respectfully request that residents remove the many abandoned/long-term parked boats, trailers, cars, motor-homes etc in open spaces and sidewalks before neighbours resort to having to report these to KM Law Enforcement - and which will likely result in tensions between neighbours as by-laws are enforced.


All the latest news from the Steenbok Reserve management team can be read in their latest July 2022 newsletter, an always fabulously interesting report.....

Knysna's homeless people problem

Over the past months you will have noticed an increase in the number of homeless on the streets of Knysna.

The Knysna Homeless Network has been established to bring together different organisations, businesses and individuals  who have knowledge and experience in different fields, and have important contributions to make towards resolving this overarching issue.

The Knysna Municipality is being put under pressure to provide a safe space and a formal shelter and feeding scheme, but in the interim, residents of Knysna are requested not to give directly to the homeless on the streets as this exacerbates the problem, encourages begging and often cash donations are not used for food but to sustain substance abuse.

There are numerous well run soup kitchens, registered NPOs and churches who assist, and if you want to help, we suggest you contact Knysna Rotary Club that does a huge amount of great work in this arena.

Bin pickers: LIRA is very aware of the dramatic increase in the number of “bin pickers” on the Island, particularly on Thursdays.  We are engaging with Allsound in an attempt to find a solution to this. While we are mindful of the desperate poverty that surround us, we would also like to limit the mess often left behind once bags have been opened and contents displaced. We hope to find a solution in the coming weeks.

Knysna Municipality Useful Contacts

All Sections Office Hrs: 044 302 6300
Customer Services: SMS 44453;
Emergencies 24 Hrs:  044 302 8911
Septic tank waste: 044 302 6331
Note that the 'honey sucker' function has been moved from Solid Wast Dept to the Water & Wastewater section of Infrastructure Services.

Report illegal baiting here!

The all-hours SANParks Rangers' Estuary Duty number is 082 269 5007. Use this to report illegal activities.

For SANParks Knysna general enquiries: 044 382-2095.
* Provides 24/7 proactive security
* Sponsors Steenbok Nature Reserve
* Champions peak season law enforcement
* Liaison/lobbying Knysna Municipality
* Liaison Nature Conservation/SANParks
* Beautification of LI
* Employment of gardeners
* Hosts Leisure Isle Festival
* Maintains property values and unequalled lifestyle
* Dedicated volunteer committee serving your interests

LIRA would like as many Islanders as possible to receive these newsletters!

If you have family members, tenants or friends who would be interested in getting our news, we'd like to add them to our mailing database. Please send email details to Brenda Neall.
We welcome your comments and feedback on this newsletter. And your input, too! Your news, ideas, stories, happenings are welcome.

Brenda Neall, website & newsletter

To contact LIRA chairperson, Mary-Anne Beviss-Challinor: 
Email her here, or call 082 651 3767.

LIRA website:
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LIRA · 16 Thornely Rd · Leisure Isle · Knysna, WCape 6571 · South Africa

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