Monthly Archives: November 2017

Green Wedge bypassed as North East Link heads for Bulleen

In what looks like the start of a year-long election campaign, the Premier, Daniel Andrews announced today that Labor would be building Corridor A of the North East Link if they are returned to power following next November’s State election.

The controversial North East Link went to public consultation with four routes, Corridor A, by far the most direct route, is planned to connect the Ring Road from Greensborough, down through Bulleen to connect to an upgraded Eastern Freeway near the Bulleen Road interchange.

Corridors B and C were projected to travel through Warrandyte to connect to EastLink at Ringwood, and Corridor D was mooted to traverse some 40 kilometres through Kangaroo Ground, Lilydale and Croydon to connect to Eastlink —  these corridors have now been removed from the table.

The premier told ABC Radio this morning that the other options “don’t stack up”, saying that the chosen route will see congestion on local roads in the north eastern suburbs slashed, with up to 15,000 trucks taken off local streets a day, and more than 9,000 vehicles taken off congested arteries like Rosanna Road.

With a projected budget of $16.5 Billion, the Premier says this project will be the “single biggest transport infrastructure investment in Victorian history”.

Detailed planning on the selected route will progress over the next 12 months and the project will go out to tender in 2019, following the November 2018 election.

CEO of the North East Link Authority, Duncan Elliot said in a video statement that the upgrade to the Eastern Freeway as part of the project will add up to seven lanes in some areas of the freeway, and that the Eastern will remain toll free.

“Our traffic data tells us this is by far the best solution for dealing with congestion and getting trucks off local roads”

“People often asks us, why not go out further, through areas like Eltham and Warrandyte, but the answer to that is simple, we are building a ring road, but we are taking a more direct route and building it where people live, work and travel,” he said.

Local Member for Warrandyte, Ryan Smith told the Diary: “While this is a good outcome for the sensitive environment of Warrandyte, it is now clear that the suspicion, uncertainty and angst that the Andrews Government put our community through was completely unnecessary”.

Mr Smith said that the community meeting held at the initial announcement of the four options “made it abundantly clear that they believed Option A was a pre-determined outcome”.

“Their concerns have been ignored by the Andrews Government and their predictions have been proven correct, he said.

Mr Smith’s says that the Liberal party support the North East Link, however “the East West Link needs to be completed first as it will carry the added vehicles that a North East Link will direct to it”.

“Planning for the North East Link should be supported by proper planning that addresses the challenges of the project, and by genuine consultation with those affected, Mr Smith said.

Manningham Mayor, Andrew Conlon said in a statement that Council has a number of concerns with Option A that they will be seeking assurance on.

Council has previously resolved not to support Option A.

However, the survey sent out to Manningham residents showed support for the Bulleen Road route – with 35% of respondents supporting Corridor A with Corridors B and C both polling 27% support with only 7% supporting Corridor D.

Manningham will be using the data collected from the survey to inform their future submissions to the North East Link Authority and to advocate on behalf of its residents.

The Manningham Mayor said that once detailed designs for Option A become available, “we will be actively advocating on behalf of our community on the issues they’ve highlighted to us.”

“We will be looking at how to minimise project impacts and if any opportunities exist that could deliver benefits to our residents,” he said.

“We also want confirmation that the Eastern Freeway will not be a toll road and that its median strip will be preserved for future transport options including Bus Rapid Transport and Doncaster Rail,” he said.

Nillumbik Mayor Peter Clarke said he was pleased the State Government had settled on Corridor A; however, he has called for details to be released as a matter of urgency on tolling, ways of reducing rat running in residential areas and ancillary projects.

“Council has lobbied hard for this option as we believe it will deliver the best environmental, quality of life and traffic outcomes for the people of Nillumbik and the wider community,”

Narelle Campbell from the community action group Rural Link #buildthelinkbutdontsplitthewedge, who have been vocal opponents of Corridor D, told the Diary they have been “actively participating in the route options identification, analysis and assessment… to ensure NELA and government could clearly understand why the rural Nillumbik green wedge was inappropriate for North East Link”.

“As it turns out, government understands and agrees,” she continued, “North East Link options identification and selection has always been about selecting the least-worst option, and in our view this has occurred.”

The announcement that Corridor A is preferred comes is of little surprise to Doug Seymour from the Warrandyte Community Association (WCA), who has actively followed the issue since the consultation process began.

“Project cost has always been a primary concern of Government, and Corridor A would be the least expensive to build — this does not mean the Corridor A will be cheap, just billions of dollars cheaper than the alternatives,“ Mr Seymour said.

“No solution is perfect and all would involve considerable dislocation — although Warrandyte seems to have avoided direct impact from this project we realise our local traffic conditions are becoming more congested and this community will therefore need to continue to be active in any and all discussions on road network upgrades,” he said.

Despite Manningham’s objection to Corridor A, Mullum Mullum ward councillor, Sophie Galbally is pleased with the outcome for the ward, although she told the Diary Manningham was always going to feel an impact from the NE link, considering all the likely options were to come through the City.

“On the other hand there is a sigh of relief that this time the Green Wedge will be saved from the possibility of destruction by a freeway,” she continued.

As a private citizen, Ms Galbally is organising a community meeting/protest at Stintons Reserve, Park Orchards on Sunday November 26 between 11am and 1pm “with a photo of the supporters who want to ensure that The Urban Boundary remains and is not subjected to any future threats of destruction”.

“There is a sense of relief in Mullum Mullum Ward but until the NE Link Option A is signed sealed and delivered we should not be complacent,” she said.

The way of the Ninja

After growing up on video games like Tehchu and Shinobi, I recently discovered that I could actually practice Ninjutsu and become a Ninja master myself — well who could resist that opportunity.

Jokes aside, Ninjutsu is a serious discipline which teaches its students self-defence from both physical attacks and weapons, when there is one opponent or many, as well as stealth, camouflage and bush craft skills like shelter building and first aid.

The classes are held weekly and go through training cycles of punches, kicks, stealth and weapons — the week I joined the class was weapons, so after a lengthy — but necessary — warm-up we each collected a rubber knife and set about learning how to defend ourselves against an attacker with a knife.

The small group was fun to train with and I am glad the knives were rubber as this reporter is feeling particularly sliced and diced after going through the process of learning five knife attack techniques and the ways in which these are blocked. Now, hold off on your letters to the editor accusing us of encouraging people to start knife fights, the emphasis in the class is very much on the way to defend yourself and to use your opponents weight and momentum against them, to “stop the force” or “follow the force” as our instructor said.

After learning the techniques and sparring in pairs, we got the opportunity to put our skills into practice in a free-for-all sparing session where you had to watch not only the person in front of you, but those around you as well.

I have tried both Karate and Jujitsu as a child and it has been a long time since I tried a martial-arts class but this was lots of fun.

The focus is on using your opponent’s strengths to your advantage, which teaches the philosophy of avoiding fights, not starting them, they even teach techniques to deal with bullying in everyday life.

If you are involved in any of the Warrandyte Primary School after hours programs you may (or may not) have seen these black clad silent warriors practicing in the Bampi. Either way, if you are looking for a martial-art with a difference, this may just be the one to try.

Now, with a subtle act of distraction [throws smoke bomb], I’m off to my next active assignment.

If you would like to train to be a Ninja too, visit: khninja.com.au

Students bowled over by veteran cricketers

Every year, members of the Over 60s Warrandyte cricket team volunteer their time at the two local primary schools to teach students some batting, bowling and fielding skills.

This year, Steve Pascoe, Barry Johnson, John Smith, Norm Darnfield and Ray Baird coached students in the Foundation, Grade 1 and Grade 2 classes at Warrandyte Primary School with a series of Milo cricket drills.

“The veteran cricketers are really entertaining and very enthusiastic about their sport,” said PE teacher Sally Freemantle.

“The students always love it when they visit — it’s a very popular event at school every year,” she said. Steve Pascoe has been involved as a player at Warrandyte Cricket Club since 1976.

He and his team of veterans also run the Milo cricket program at the club, and they’re always on the lookout for new recruits during their school visits. “Milo Cricket is a great initiative,” Ms. Freemantle added.

“It’s a terrific opportunity for children to learn basic ball skills and it’s a gentle introduction to a team sport. “Getting children involved in sports, especially team sports, is so important.

“There are some very important life skills to be learnt by being part of a sporting team, as well as the health and fitness benefits,” she said.

This year the Milo IN2CRICKET program begins at WCC on Friday November 3 at 6pm and is open to boys and girls aged 5–8. Sessions run for up to an hour, using plastic bats and rubber balls.

The program is also designed to be inclusive of children with disabilities. It runs every week through until March, except for the Christmas break.

Five houses unite under one roof

Manningham’s five Neighbourhood Houses have formed a new strategic alliance, which will improve access to adult education for the municipality’s residents.

Under the banner “Manningham Learns” the Neighbourhood Houses of Warrandyte, Park Orchards, Wonga Park, The Pines Learning and Living and Learning at Ajani can to pool their resources and aggregate each centre’s courses and activities into one place, making it easier for adults to access courses and activities across the municipality.

Outgoing Mayor of Manningham Cr Michelle Kleinert told the Diary having all of Manningham’s Neighbourhood Houses united will grant residents with more options when exploring their adult education needs.

“When you consider you have Warrandyte, Park Orchards, Wonga Park they are all offering different things, if someone is living in an area and they only know Warrandyte they are missing out and Park Orchards is not that far; so it gives us better access for our community to feel they have better access to more tools,” she said.

In 2016 10,500 people enrolled in activities at Neighbourhood Houses across the municipality, according to data from the 2016 Census, that would indicate between 10 and 12 per cent of the residents of Manningham who are beyond compulsory schooling age are involved in some form of activity or course run by Neighbourhood Houses.

At the Manningham Learns launch, Cr Kleinert spoke on the importance of this alliance in promoting education within the municipality.

“For young people who are struggling with learning, with education; when they see their parents and grandparents still learning — it is a very powerful message for us to give back to the next generation,” she said.

There are around 300 organisations in Victoria who are eligible for funding under the capacity and innovations fund, the money helps organisations evolve the way they engage with the community to provide education, but there is only so much money to go around and often strategic alliances are a more attractive way to fund enhancements, but alliances between independent organisations are tricky, especially in the adult education sector.

The Manningham Learns project has taken 18 months to get from planning to launch and has meant the five Neighbourhood Houses have had to change their view of each other, they have had to become collaborators instead of competitors, a task not easy to achieve and one which Julie Hebert, Manager of Training and Participation Regional Support for north eastern Victoria Region praised.

“There are about 300 [community education organisations] in the State and if every single entity tries to do it by themselves in this modern context, it is a big risk — it is working together that saves everybody in the end.

“It isn’t an easy task to get five organisations who are vastly different to agree on a course of action to do the same thing, it is a very, very, very hard task.

“It is a very, very great outcome, what you’ve done, you should be very proud,” she said at the launch of Manningham Learns.

This new alliance has received accolades from all levels of government and the managers of the five Neighbourhood Houses have worked hard to make this happen, under the umbrella of Manningham Learns they will be able to make their administration more efficient which means each manager can focus on providing a better education service, as Pauline Fyffe, manager of Park Orchards Community House explained.

“Initially we still have a lot of work to do in determining how the alliance will operate and the benefits we will see, the project has been about bringing us together, we have come a long way on that journey but there is still quite a lot to do in terms of how we will operate, how we will make our lives easier, this is the beginning,” she said.

Emma Edmond, of Warrandyte Neighbourhood House added: “because we know each other a lot better now and there is a high level of trust amongst us we will be able to just put our hand up to do something I can do instead of all of us having to do the same thing individually”.

The efficient running of an organisation like Neighbourhood House is vital if it is to evolve the service it provides the community and a lot of the changes in policy which Manningham Learns has initiated will not be seen by most.

What will be seen is the ability to see, in one place, what all five Neighbourhood Houses have on offer, which will give those members of the community who are seeking to educate themselves further a more convenient picture of what courses and activities are available, and where.

“The biggest benefit is that all our services are now in one place, so they can access the website and download a course procure — it is a one stop shop for learning,” said Ms Fyffe.

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Communities speak out against North East Link

Alarm at the potential impact of North East Link is ramping up.

At a recent forum in Eltham, The Greens MP, Samantha Dunn, stated she believes the four proposed options are “pitting communities against each other”.

Ms Dunn called for communities to unite to oppose the construction of the North East Link in any form.

“It doesn’t matter where it is… it isn’t the right direction for Melbourne, it’s not going to solve the problems that you have it’s going to create enormous impacts in your communities… it doesn’t matter which part of northern Melbourne you live in, if this project goes ahead it is going to impact your area,” Ms Dunn said.

Greens advisor Alex Mark told the forum:

“All of the options lead to a loss of amenity, community facilities, schools and established residences, they carve up greenspace and require the acquisition of parkland, they generate pollution, they generate more traffic on local roads… all of them will further entrench car dependency and urban sprawl.

“What hasn’t been shown by the North East Link Authority (NELA) yet is that they will create land use change so you will see, light residential become commercial, industrial or far higher density residential areas — and that is not something that is reversible,” he said.

Mr Marks then put forward a suite of public transport projects which, combined, would cost less for the toll road, including upgrading rail, bus and tram and freight services to better serve the north east of Melbourne.

Manningham council have sent out a survey to gauge residents’ views on the project.

Manningham Council say they will use the data advocate on behalf of its residents on the preferred route and the design priorities.

The survey is open until 5pm November 17. Councillor Paul McLeish told the Diary he is arguing for improved public transport to be factored in to the plan.

“The North East Link at this point essentially completely fails to address public transport in any meaningful way — there is no inclusion of park and ride facilities, there is no expansion of existing park and ride facilities contemplated in any form there is no apparent consideration of heavy rail.

“If you are trying to plan for Melbourne for 30 years, which is what this infrastructure is about, in 30 years the population will be between 7–8 million people living in the city of Melbourne and you are going to need that outer loop rail just to make the rail network function,“ said Cr McLeish. Meanwhile the recently launched North East Link Forum (NELF) combines residents’ associations of Warrandyte, Park Orchards and Donvale who have come together to respond to issues around Route B and C, which would most likely impact these areas.

“These proposed routes would mean a 3km stretch of six-lane freeway thundering through the valley,” said NELF spokesperson Carli Lange-Boutle.

“We have followed the NE Link Authorities guidelines and have learnt nothing further to help us truly understand the impact on local roads, traffic, environment and residents…we are calling on Warrandytians to actively lobby against the impacts of Route B and C and join us in defending our Village character, our natural Yarra River valley bush land and surrounding Green Wedge buffers,” she said.

To have your say, Manningham Councillor Sophy Galbally has announced she will be holding a No Highway in Green Wedge protest at Stintons Reserve on Sunday, November 26 from 11am–1pm or contact NELF northeastlinkforum@gmail.com for information on how to get involved with their campaign.