23 highlights of '23
From parks and playgrounds to the extension of George Street, our world-class boulevard, to tree plantings and building openings, more cycleways and the biggest ever celebration of Pride – it’s been a challenging, rewarding and productive year.
In no particular order, here are 23 highlights from 2023!
Our biggest ever New Year’s Eve attracted about 425 million viewers globally and one million spectators around Sydney Harbour to kick off the year with a bang, and hot on its heels the city sparkled through WorldPride – the largest LGBTIQA+ celebration ever held in the southern hemisphere.
This year we began measuring heat island effect across the City, embedded Net Zero building controls in our planning system and our ambitious Street Tree Master Plan received a prestigious award – we have planted over 16,000 trees since I have been Lord Mayor!
This year, I officially opened: Lawrence Hargrave, Drying Green, Clyne Reserve, Tote Park, Minogue Crescent Reserve, Lyons Road Reserve, Blackwattle Bay Park and Peace Park, to name a few! Excitingly, construction is nearly finished on the new and improved Wimbo Park!
And wonderfully, after our years of campaigning, the Premier committed to converting half the Moore Park Golf Course to parkland for free and open community use!
Plus we recruited hungry maggots to wage war on food waste!
We’re lowering the barriers to EV use with on-street charging points across the city and work to retrofit strata-run apartments with chargers.
But we know the best way to lower transport emissions is to reduce car use, so our work to complete the safe cycling network continued at pace – this year we invested $22.5 million in bikelanes and opened the rebuilt College Street cycleway, a cycleway between Ashmore and Eveleigh and six new connections around Erskineville and Alexandria. Plus, we have just begun work on the Oxford Street Cycleway!
Crown Princess Mary visited and took a ride on the new bike lanes and light rail, which were both inspired by Danish urban design, commenting that it was wonderful to witness and experience the transformation of the City.
World-renowned urbanist and architect Jan Gehl came back to Sydney, to see the changes he helped inspire, including the transformation of George Street from a traffic-clogged, unpleasant thoroughfare to a tree-lined boulevard teaming with people and a wonderful light rail.
Salesforce Tower at 180 George Street opened this year, bringing tens of thousands of workers to the northern part of the CBD. It features a 20-metre high canopy artwork by Aboriginal artist Daniel Boyd. We also negotiated for three floors in the tower for 20 years, which has been leased to tech company Greenhouse, operating the biggest climate technology hub in Australasia.
We extended fee-waivers for on-road dining, to help local businesses increase their trade and bring life to our streets. There are now more than 694 businesses trading on footpaths and roadways. We know you love being outside in the city, with Sydney Streets enjoying huge success again, transforming village high streets into spaces for performances, shopping, and dining.
Our $34 million upgrade of Crown Street is well underway, with increased space for alfresco dining, more garden beds and trees, new smart poles, bubblers and seating.
Council has just approved our $44 million plan to rejuvenate Chinatown, which will see changes to Dixon Street with new lights, public art and an upgrade to the famous Gates; grants to stores to upgrade their storefronts; new planning controls; more investment in community events and a dedicated City staff member.
This year we completed the foundations on a new school in Green Square and main construction works at now underway. We’re hoping it will be open for students Term 1, 2025!
Our recently restored Archibald Fountain was honoured by the National Trust (NSW) with an award. We built a new café at Hyde Park (over Museum Station) – a wonderful spot for a break from the bustling city.
We commissioned two beautiful murals this year celebrating WorldPride and Indigenous heritage, progressed the Yaranurala Harbour Walk and the stunning 6m marble sculpture bara by Waanyi artist Judy Watson was also acknowledged at The National Trust (NSW) Heritage Awards.
We succeeded in our campaign to increase affordable and social housing on the Waterloo Estate redevelopment, provided funds from developer levies to City West Housing to deliver 74 new apartments for people on low to moderate incomes and gave $7.8 million to help community housing provider Bridge Housing buy a 20-unit block in Glebe.
We created a new $4.5m grant program to help organisations distribute food to struggling households as the cost-of-living soars. This is the heartbreaking reality of food insecurity in Sydney, and work we will continue into 2024.
We gave Qtopia Sydney, Sydney's new Queer Museum, a temporary home in Green Park during WorldPride, before they were officially handed the keys to their new home in the former Darlinghurst Police Station at Taylor Square.
I was so pleased to welcome a full contingent of new International Students with a Reception at Town Hall. It’s one of my favourite annual events and was back at capacity for the first time since Covid, helping these students begin their lifelong connection with Sydney.
The Randle Street building fire in Surry Hills affected many residents, workers, and visitors and could have been much worse without the quick and brave efforts of firefighters and other emergency service workers. I held a reception at Town Hall to say thank you.
Wonderfully, Alex Greenwich was returned as the Member for Sydney at the State Election in March. For ten years Alex has represented Sydney incredible well and this term he is focused on ending LGBTIQA+ discrimination in NSW, delivering gambling reform, and increasing protection for renters.
This year we farewelled my former Deputy Lord Mayor Jess Scully and welcomed the wonderful Adam Worling to the Clover Moore Independent Team. Many thanks to Jess and my fellow councillors, Deputy Lord Mayor Robert Kok and (Waskam) Emelda Davis, HY William Chan and Adam for their service this year.
On a personal note, it was a humbling honour to be awarded an Officer of the Order of Australia. Many of you took time to send me well wishes and I am very grateful – those words and your support mean more to me than any other recognition.
It is hard to compact the City’s achievements to a short list of dot points, but I hope you have enjoyed some of the highlights and I hope you have a happy festive season and New Year.
Thank you for your contribution to our city and community, we’ll see you in 2024, ready and energised to continue our work transforming Sydney!
PS. The next Local Government Election will be held in September 2024. I have not made a final decision about the next election but I strongly believe that the City of Sydney should remain in the hands of a progressive, Independent, community-led council. I will be campaigning for a talented Independent team as I have in the past, and whether I am running at the top of that ticket or not, ultimately the decision who leads the Council will be made by you, the people of the City of Sydney. I know this is a difficult time for many, but if you can spare a donation to help us hit the ground the running in the New Year, I would be very appreciative!