Monthly Archives: July 2017

Voting for change with our hip pocket

PURCHASING TRENDS change what’s available on the shelves of supermarkets and we all cast our votes every time we buy something.

Where demand lies, supply follows

If our spending can shape the market, then we consumers can change the world.

Sometimes becoming more eco conscious is simple, as certain actions align with some of our other social values or preferences.

But sometimes they don’t, very few people will give up everything they love for the planet, but most of us do want to do something — that’s a great place to start.

Last month I explored the consumption of animal products, and the heavy environmental impacts of that industry.

I understand that reducing meat consumption seems unfathomable to some, so this month let’s look at some of the simpler things we can do to be kinder to the earth and benefit the future of humanity.

Where does your food come from?

Many of us already like to source fresh produce that is grown locally, as we prefer to support our local businesses, and the Australian economy.

Home vegie gardens, local farmers’ markets and food co-ops are thriving, with more and more people also wanting to avoid foods sprayed with herbicides and pesticides.

A side benefit of locally grown produce is that the reduction of transport required to deliver produce (known as “food miles”) also reduces carbon emissions.

Energy use relating to refrigeration of fresh fruit and veg is also reduced or eliminated by buying from local farmers — eating what is “in season” within our regional climate is a great way to keep it local.

Food wastage is a major source of methane emissions from landfill sites; composting food scraps can be a great way to nourish your vegie garden, while reducing these emissions.

Importantly, compost needs to be turned every week, to allow oxygen in; If not, methane-producing microbes become active in anaerobic (no oxygen) conditions, just as they do in landfill.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

After years of this mantra, most of us are pretty good at recycling our rubbish, the biggest issue is often working out what should and what shouldn’t go into the recycling bins (look this up on the local council website).

But we are still not so great at reducing consumption, or reusing things

Apart from excess packaging, we don’t often consider wasted resources when we purchase.

How often are we really going to use that thing? If not very often, we could consider hiring or borrowing one locally instead.

Perhaps we can buy a second-hand one, then pass it on afterwards.

Unlike some other parts of the world, Australia has not fully jumped on board with the sharing ideology of “collective consumption” yet, despite Time Magazine calling it one of the 10 ideas that will change the world.

This concept will reach the Uberesque critical mass at some point soon and we will see a great leap forward, with an online platform for local sharing economies within the next few years.

Let’s be honest, there are times when we — women at least — just feel like a bit of retail therapy, we can avoid the “fast-fashion” industry, and seek out a unique piece (or bag full) of pre-loved clothing at the Op Shop, or on the Warrandyte Secondhand Page.

When we recycle clothing, we reduce the energy and water consumption, pollution and land-clearing impact of the textiles industry.

Rather than encouraging wage exploitation of people in developing countries, which is usually the method of producing “cheap” clothes and appliances for mass consumption, we can instead give that money to charities through op-shopping.

You are not just a number

Western capitalist society is not designed to encourage this sort of consumer.

The ideal citizen seems to be one who spends all their hard-earned cash in our retail economy, constantly trying to keep up with the Joneses.

Life becomes an endless pursuit of happiness, chasing your tail hoping the next purchase will give you that satisfaction you are longing for.

But material things very rarely bring lasting fulfilment; how quickly the “new car” or “new phone” feeling wears off these days!

We have seen powerful ethical swings effect real market change, for example through the mass boycotting of cage eggs.

Conscientious consumers are now prepared to spend more for better treatment of animals; many people choose recycled or sustainably sourced paper to avoid the destruction of our native forests, or elect to support renewable energy ahead of coal power.

More and more of us are taking responsibility for the future — and the more numbers creating demand for a higher standard, the more the market will supply that standard.

Where to start?

We mere-mortals do struggle to adjust our behaviours, like remembering to take our green bags into the supermarket.

How about practicing other things that can prompt us to reduce waste, like getting a quality refillable pen, a nice drink bottle, and some rechargeable AA or AAA batteries?

Check out how good you feel and for how long after spending $100 at the op shop.

Grow some organic vegies at home, picking as you need avoids waste and gardening is good for our health by reducing stress levels.

Consider borrowing that random tool rather than buying one next time — I’ve just joined Peerby, and hope that you locals hit me up for a lend of any of the excessive “stuff” I have.

I find that purchasing consciously and congruently with the future I want, brings me a greater sense of fulfilment than anything I might purchase for a short-term gain.

For more information on how to lighten your carbon footprint, get on board the Victorian Governments new “Take 2” program.

Warrandyte ace their way to two premierships

THE WARRANDYTE Tennis Club get to hang two new premiership flags from their rafters after their open Section Five and Section Six teams won their grand finals last Friday night.

The Section Five side defeated Yan Yean Red 42 games to 22 and the Section Six team defeated Wattle Glen 35 games to 28, to win their respective finals in the Diamond Valley Tennis Association’s autumn season.

Both teams were forced to work hard early, they were neck-and-neck with their opponents when rain forced play to stop midway through the matchups.

The break turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Warrandyte, once play resumed both their teams came out firing and stormed home to victory.

Alistair Tudor, one of Warrandyte’s coaches and the Friday night Junior Convenor said it was great to see the dedication and hard work the players put in throughout the season pay off.

“[I’m] happy for both teams, given that both teams missed out on making their finals last season, it gives them great reward to be able to win both their finals this season.

“For Section Six who were on top of the ladder for the majority of the season it was great to close the season the same way whilst Section Five finishing third on the ladder and managed to knock off the second place team in the semis to progress to the grand final and take the flag,” he said.

Warrandyte’s Section Two and Section Three teams also qualified for the finals this season but were eliminated in the semis after losing to Plenty and Norris Bank respectively.

Even though not all of the teams finished the season as premiers, Coach Tudor believes it is still a huge positive for the club to have all four of their sides makes the finals.

“I think it’s great for tennis in Warrandyte,” he said.

He went on to reflect on the boost to the club’s reputation a result like this has.

“Anytime the club can have success it does great boosting the profile of the club within Warrandyte as well as the surrounding areas,” he said.

He also wanted to thank some special people who played an important role in the teams’ and club’s success. “In reality I couldn’t do my role without the support of the parents.

They are the vital part that makes sure players get to matches and [they] greatly assist me in making sure the competition runs smoothly,” he said.

The teams won’t have to wait long to take back to the court with the next season kicking off on July 21.

Congratulations to Section Six players: Callum Bowers, Hamish McLellan, Nick Davenport, Owen Kelly and Mitch Miskowiec-Robb and to Section Five players: Nicholas Tso, Matthew Quick, Daniel Mizzi(on the ground), Raymond Chen and Chris Milburn-Clark (not pictured) on a great season.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Major public transport upgrade on the horizon

Proposed rapid transit system to ease commuter congestion

GLOBAL PUBLIC transport company Transdev have put forward a proposal for a new Doncaster Bus Rapid Transit project.

The proposal presents a plan for Melbourne’s first ever express bus way, potentially revolutionising public transport for the eastern suburbs.

A BRT system would separate purpose built and high capacity buses from other traffic such as cars and SMART buses, by providing a dedicated bus lane with full right of way.

If the plan goes ahead, it would see the Eastern Freeway median strip — which has been reserved for the potential Doncaster rail link — developed into a bus expressway.

The bus way would also continue down the centre of Hoddle Street, making for just a 30 minute journey from Doncaster to the CBD.

This could be welcome news for commuters, who currently travel for 47 minutes or more during peak times — and for Warrandyte residents, who often travel for over an hour on the current 906 route.

The bus way would be the first of its kind here in Victoria, but Transdev has built similar systems overseas with successful bus rapid transit operations in Bogotá, Columbia and the French cities of Rouen and Nantes.

The new purpose built buses will have a capacity of up to 150 people, and are believed to operate more like a rail link (with fast transit times and minimal waiting times for services in peak hours) than a traditional bus lane.

Transdev’s proposal has been welcomed by Manningham Council who believe the project can vastly improve commuter’s public transport experience in the eastern suburbs.

Leigh Harrison, Manningham Director Assets and Engineering spoke to the Diary and was hopeful the project would be approved by State Government as the project would greatly enhance eastern Melbourne’s public transport system.

“Transdev’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) proposal would provide Manningham’s commuters with a markedly improved public transport option that maximises what buses can offer.

We hope the proposal will be given serious consideration and support from the State Government,” he said.

But for Manningham Council, the Doncaster rail link still remains of the utmost importance and the Doncaster BRT is viewed as merely a short-term solution.

“Manningham remains the only Melbourne metropolitan municipality with no rail, and the proposal for a BRT is the next best thing in the short to medium term to cater for already overcrowded public transport services.

The proposed BRT may also offer improved reliability and travel times between the Melbourne CBD and Warrandyte,” said Mr Harrison.

Mr Harrison then went on to emphasise Manningham’s position that any sort of rapid transit system is merely a short-term solution to public transport congestion, congestion which Manningham thinks can only be resolved — in the long term — by the Doncaster rail link.

“The proposed BRT must be designed so as not to prevent a future Doncaster rail link and ensure the Eastern Freeway median is preserved for a future rail line to Doncaster.

Manningham Council will continue to advocate to the State Government to prioritise a rail line to Doncaster as the ultimate public transport solution for the area,” he said.

The BRT project remains in the proposal stage at this point in time.

Should the proposal gain the support or approval of the State Government, community engagement and conversation with key stakeholders will be carried out in order to develop the project appropriately.

The Grand Hotel elevates standards in accessibility

IF WALLS COULD talk, the walls of The Grand Hotel Warrandyte would have an extraordinary story to tell.

Built in 1895, The Grand Hotel Warrandyte has stood proudly for more than 120 years as the backbone to the Warrandyte township.

On June 30, the historic Yarra Street hotel marked a significant milestone, celebrating the installation of a lift, bringing the hotel in line with the national Disability Discrimination Act.

The ribbon was cut by local councillor Sophy Galbally who applauded the hotel as a great example of a business that recognises the community need for access for families.

“At great expense the Grand installs a lift which sends a welcome to the 20% of the population with a disability and to our ageing baby boomers who are now over 65,” she said.

When locals Greg Kennedy and Steve Graham took ownership, they promptly got rid of the pokies and replaced them with a kids play room.

Since then, the hotel has undergone dramatic renovations, numerous licks of paint and is being lovingly cared for by general manager Peter Appleby.

Mr Kennedy and Mr Graham told the Diary, that shortly after they purchased the hotel an 80-year-old man arrived one night to go to his granddaughters 21st birthday party, but when he could not get up the stairs he had to go home.

“We thought ‘that’s not good enough,’” the pair said.

So they immediately started planning to install a lift to allow access to the upstairs function rooms.

It has taken them three years to retrofit the historic building to meet current standards.

The official opening of the elevator was attended by local resident Meindert Withoff, who uses a wheelchair, and he is very happy that the hotel is now fully accessible by everyone.

“It’s fantastic! I really appreciate it — I know that in the past some people with disabilities couldn’t go to certain functions in the pub just because they couldn’t go up the stairs — and that is a real shame — because pub is an abbreviation for public, and it is not very public if it is not accessible for people with disabilities,” Mr Withoff said.

The function rooms upstairs are now being fitted with disabled toilets to complement the existing ones on the ground floor.

These new facilities continue the Grand’s reputation as the backbone of Warrandyte, where the hotel has served as a safe place for those in need, opening its doors to the community during the 1931 floods, 1939 Black Friday fires and subsequent bush fires in the 1950s and 1960s, this renovation will now allow the hotel to serve all members of the community.

The Grand is part of Warrandyte’s social and community hub, with patrons ranging from 18 to 80 +year olds and from all walks of life, installation of the lift will give seniors, parents with prams and people with disabilities easier access to the venue.

After the ribbon cutting, councillor Galbally stated how the Grand was an example to all businesses and urged others to look at ways in which they can make themselves more inclusive to our modern, diverse community.

“I encourage all local businesses to see how they can improve accessibility so they too send this message of welcome,” she said.

North East Link planning hots up

ACTIVITY IS RAMPING up in the planning for the North East Link, and the route to be chosen is by far the most contentious issue.

North East Link Authority (NELA)

NELA has confirmed their process of consultation will commence in July/August.

Their current investigations are concentrating on geotechnical testing and analysis.

Their website has a short video on the current program of drilling to take soil samples from 24 sites.

Geotechnical study sites (North East Link Authority website)

Whilst the line of drillings to the west of Warrandyte follows the expected path of the central route past Beasley’s Nursery, there is one curious drilling location shown in Warrandyte, south of the river around the Stonehouse Café area.

Katie Hall, Corporate Communications and Media Manager North East Link Authority, told the Diary “the drill locations on the video map are indicative of where drilling will take place but are not exact.

“Where the rigs are set up depends on where there is a suitable location such as a VicRoads reservation, and where we are missing information regarding the soil and rock profiles,” she said.

The current investigations will look at the suitability of tunnelling, cut and fill, gradients, vegetation, environmental and socioeconomic considerations.

NELA will then identify several corridors.

Each of the identified corridors will have a full analysis of the positives and negatives for each.

This process will not select a route for the NE Link; it is a broad corridor identification process only.

After the corridors have been identified, the first full round of public consultation by NELA will commence.

The consultations will allow the public to have input into the corridors identified and to make submissions with respect to their suitability.

Nillumbik Pro-Active Landowners (PALs)

The PALs group conducted a survey via their Facebook page, this survey received 146 responses.

47% of the responders were from Kangaroo Ground while only 1% were from North Warrandyte.

The overwhelming majority (94%) of respondents supported the North East Link with only 5% saying they did not support it.

While 70% objected to the road being built in Nillumbik, with 25% saying they approved of a Green Wedge route, and 65% supporting the link being mainly tunnel (12% against).

Spokesman for the PALs group, Max Parsons, told the Diary PALs will be working to ensure NELA understand, acknowledge and appreciate the importance of the Green Wedge to the residents and landowners in Nillumbik, as well as its state and national significance, Mr Parsons also stressed the importance of financial compensation for landowners.

“With a determined view to the primacy of human life in relation to bush fire risk, the loss of vegetation and Green Wedge areas, the dissection of and disruption to existing communities and the isolation of native fauna must all be factored into the equation to select an appropriate route for the North East Link.

“Should the North East Link proceed, affected landowners must receive appropriate market-based compensation for any acquired land or adjoining affected properties,” he said.

Warrandyte Community Association (WCA)

The WCA has expressed concern Banyule Council and residents are mounting a well-organised campaign advocating the Central Option to the west of Warrandyte as preferable to the shorter route running down to andunder the Banyule river flats to join the Eastern Freeway at Bulleen.

Convenor of the Warrandyte Community Association subcommittee working on this issue, Carli Lange-Boutle, feels the action in Banyule could have serious impact on Warrandyte.

“The Government plans to start construction on the Link in 2019 and community groups and Councils along the various routes are linking up and preparing to argue against a route through their communities,” she said

The WCA understands the public will have only six weeks in which to respond to the NELA Route Options paper, planned for issue in late July so the research needed to lodge an objection needs to begin now.

The WCA is alarmed at the potential impact of the Greensborough–Ringwood route.

The borehole location figure on the NELA website confirms the Authority is considering an alignment parallel to the high voltage powerline easements running from St Helena to Ringwood, crossing or passing under the Yarra River near Target Road in Warrandyte.

At 19 km long, this route would be over twice the length of the Banyule route and unless extensive tunnelling is used, it would impact the Diamond and Mullum Mullum Creeks, as well as the Yarra River.

Mrs Lange-Boutle says, “Access ramps at Reynolds Road near Springvale Rd seem likely for this route option and this could generate serious traffic volumes for Yarra Street Warrandyte, including Warrandyte Bridge traffic and through the neighbouring Donvale and Park Orchards.

“There is also great concern for the health of the Mullum Mullum Creek and Yarra River.

“We need to consider all impacts to our communities; economically, socially and environmentally,” she said.

There is also pressure from the east.

Nillumbik groups are preparing to argue against the routes through the Green Wedge areas of Kangaroo Ground and Christmas Hills; there are serious environmental issues along these routes too.

The WCA has urged Warrandyte residents to take an active interest on this issue

Manningham City Council

Unlike other municipalities, Manningham City Council seems to be sitting on the fence when it comesto taking a position on the route the North East Link should take.

Last month Director of Assets and Engineering, Leigh Harrison, advised the Diary the “council does not currently have a formal position on the proposal”.

The council has an Integrated Transport Advisory Subcommittee (ITAC), but Mr Harrison advised “The ITAC is an advisory committee and, as such, does not formulate policy for Council’s consideration.

“The committee can agree on a view in relation to North East Link however, to date, the level of detail associated with the North East Link is too abstract to determine any concrete direction,” he said.

Their reluctance to take a position is perhaps understandable when it is considered a number of route options pass within their boundaries.

Nillumbik Shire Council

Nillumbik council officers and Councillors Karen Egan and Jane Ashton have reached agreement with NELA to hold several information sessions for local communities within the Nillumbik investigation area to talk with NELA representatives about their process, opportunities, issues and the challenges North East Link will bring so that they can use what they learn in their decision making.

The sessions are planned to be held:

  • Sunday July 23 — 9am – 12pm Eltham Town Square
  • Monday July 24 — 5pm – 8pm Nillumbik Civic Centre Greensborough
  • Saturday July 29 — 10am – 1:30pm Diamond Creek Community Centre
  • Sunday July 30 — 10am – 12:30pm Research shops

Jane Ashton said on Facebook she is aiming to organise for a meeting in Kangaroo Ground “as this is where people who care live”.

Narelle Campbell, from the No Rural Link group who have started the social media hashtag #buildthelinkbutdontsplitthewedge are opposing the road passing through the Green Wedge.

Ms Campbell thinks the sessions are “a great opportunity for our communities to engage with NELA face to face in a reasonable, evidence based, informal and passionate way”.

More formal information, engagement and feedback sessions are planned once corridors are identified and announced in August.

The North East Link Authority are not going to have an easy time ahead of them north-east Melbourne seems to find itself in a situation where most people want the link but very few want it anywhere near them.