The City of Sydney will cooperate with the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney’s audacious request for $2.9 million in support for the World Youth Day (WYD) events, but expects reimbursement for all predicted damage caused.
However, it will waive fees for the hire of banner poles, venues and open spaces worth almost $1 million. The City also stands to lose $350,000 in revenue from parking and incur additional costs as a result of road closures and cleaning.
The Church also demanded Council officers sign a restrictive confidentiality agreement, which was refused because it breached local government and freedom of information laws. The production of street banners promoting the event was also refused.
Sydney residents are expected to face massive disruptions over the weekend of 18-21 July as a result of the event. A mass pilgrimage walk on the Saturday will make large sections of the city, particularly residential areas of Surry Hills, almost inaccessible.
The plans require the trees lining Parkham St to be removed to allow the huge number of pilgrims faster access across a footbridge over South Dowling St to Moore Park.
Greens Councillor Chris Harris voted to cooperate, but was concerned the Church was making audacious demands of the City.
Independent Councillor Marcelle Hoff, who is Catholic, initially voted against the expenditure because of the Church’s extensive resources and expressed disappointment with the WYD organising committee for poor communication and consultation. She later agreed to the compromise if Government and the Church agreed to the reimbursement.
Recognising that we’re a global city, I’m concerned that these events do not benefit the majority of people in this city [who are not Catholic], Hoff told Sydney Star Observer after the meeting.
Council approved the limited in-kind support last week.