THE NSW Government last week unveiled its new $290 million Open Spaces and Greener Sydney package, which includes $100 million to secure strategic green space, $20 million to build more than 200 new or upgraded playgrounds and $30 million to open up 81 school ovals and playgrounds for public use during school holidays.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian made the announcement at Livvi's Place playground in Ryde alongside Planning Minister Anthony Roberts and local MP Victor Dominello.
"Our strong economic management means only a NSW Liberals & Nationals Government can invest in better local communities by creating more open space. We've heard the communities' call to improve liveability and we are acting," Ms Berejiklian said.
"Having access to green open space is crucial in making communities thriving and enjoyable places to live.
"We are committed to not only creating the jobs and infrastructure our communities need, but also the vital open and green spaces so that families can have the best quality of life."
The $100 million commitment will allow the government to identify and purchase land for public open space. It comes after recent strategic land purchases by the NSW Government including 16 hectares of land in West Hoxton that comprises the critically endangered ecological community Cumberland Plain Woodland, which is to be dedicated open space.
An extra $20 million will go towards building new playgrounds in communities that currently do not have them, while also funding upgrades to existing playgrounds to ensure they have the most engaging and inclusive equipment.
"Through strategic planning and the purchasing of land we will be able to deliver quality parks and playgrounds for kids to play or open space to walk the family dog," Planning Minister Anthony Roberts said.
"We are a government that cares about the community and that's why we want to ensure open space, parks, outdoor recreation areas and play spaces are able to be enjoyed by everybody equally."
The $20 million Everyone Can Play in NSW program will fund councils by way of grants to renew, renovate or build new playgrounds. The grant program will provide opportunities for Councils to construct new or renovate existing inclusive playspaces across all of NSW. The government will work with community organisations and Councils to identify areas of high priority for new playspaces.
Funding of $37.5 million will support a new 'Five Million Trees' initiative, with the NSW Government to plant more than 380,000 trees every year until 2030 and give away another 15,000 trees to people who are building homes in new land release areas in Western Sydney.
Mr Roberts said the money would be provided through an annual grants program that will assist tree planting initiatives across Greater Sydney. "Planting more trees will contribute to the lowering of urban heat in Sydney and improve the environment for pedestrians at street level," he added.
Commissioner of Open Space and Parklands Fiona Morrison said trees provide many benefits. The Commissioner will help coordinate where many of the trees are planted, to ensure a strategic approach.
"Tree canopy coverage contributes to an improvement in biodiversity habitats for species as well as providing much-needed shade for our streets and homes. Trees also improve visual amenity, landscape and a 'sense of place' in our suburbs," Ms Morrison said.
Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said the benefits from the new trees would reach beyond the communities where they are planted.
"Planting this many trees across Sydney is equivalent to taking about 355,000 cars off the road each year," Ms Upton said.