The St Ives eruv
Ku-ring-gai Council has finally approved an eruv formed by electricity wires in part of St Ives, on Sydney’s north shore, after numerous court battles and vocal opposition from some residents.
Councillors voted 8-2 last night (Tuesday) to retrospectively approve the eruv, a symbolic, spiritual marker that allows Orthodox Jewish people to do things on the Sabbath they would not normally be able to do, such as push strollers, use a wheelchair, carry shopping or visit family.
The markers, which have been up for about 18 months and were put up without council approval, consist of plastic conduits attached to 571 Ausgrid power poles, with electricity wires marking the boundary of the eruv.
The application under the Roads Act was made by the Helping Families Unite organisation, following an appeal in the Land and Environment Court against the removal of the eruv. Around 330 people in St Ives identify themselves as Orthodox Jews.
Ku-ring-gai Mayor Jennifer Anderson said she was pleased that the matter had been settled and that residents had had their say.
“We heard some very compelling and passionate speakers at the meeting last night, both for and against,” she said. “The council’s duty was to assess the application on its merits and ensure proper process was followed, which has been done.”
Ku-ring-gai Council had previously looked into removing the eruv, estimating that works would cost $50,000, but it received a Supreme Court Summons in July this year seeking orders restraining it from taking action.
The eruv has proved a hot button issue in the area. The council carried out a survey of about 2000 residents living in or near the eruv in September, which revealed that half of the 618 respondents wanted the eruv torn down, arguing that religious laws had no place on public land and that the group had not sought prior council approval.
Comments recorded on the survey in opposition to the eruv included that it was “very divisive”, “created a Jewish enclave” and some claimed that Orthodox Jews were “forcing their views” on other people, asserting that this set a bad precedent for other religions.
Others respondents feared the eruv could affect house prices or increase segregation in the suburb.
One said that it would cause “real estate devaluation due to religious area”, while others said they “don’t want to be known as a Jewish suburb” and that it “creates a ghetto-type situation”.
Some opposition was fuelled by the fact that council permission had not been granted for the conduits, calling it “ugly and sneaky” and saying that it “did not follow the proper process”.
But 41 per cent of residents supported the eruv, saying it was barely noticeable and did not affect anybody. Some said the eruv should stay because religious beliefs and laws should be respected.
Comments included: “Not noticeable. Life changer for those that believe” and other called it a “great initiative. Strengthens Jewish community” arguing that people should practice religious tolerance and support families.
One person said that the community was “plagued with bigotry”.
Nine per cent remained neutral.
2010 Development application and several Roads Act applications lodged with Ku-ring-gai council for a northern eruv
2011 Council refuses application
2011 Appeal lodged with Land and Environment Court against the refusal
2012 Court rules in the council’s favour, saying it has the say over what can go in a road reserve
2012 Second appeal lost
July 2016 Council receives a Supreme Court summons restraining it from removing the eruv
August 2016 Application received from group Helping Families Unite for retrospective council approval for eruv
November 2016 Application approved by council
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