Monthly Archives: September 2018

Labor promises to spend big on public transport

‘TIS THE SEASON for election promises, and the Andrew’s Labor Party has brought out a doozy, the Suburban Rail Loop, which will form an outer ring around Melbourne, and importantly for the area, provide a station at Doncaster, finally linking Manningham into the rail network.

This is not the Doncaster Rail that has long been called for, but combined with the Bus Rapid Transit service that has been proposed to run along the promised Eastern Freeway upgrade incorporated with the North East Link, this could be good news for Warrandyte commuters.

It is unusual in recent times for governments to commit to such a long-term project, as the four-year election cycle does not often reward such far-sighted policy.

Premier Andrews says that the Suburban Rail Loop project will transform Victoria’s public transport system, providing an underground rail connection between Melbourne’s major employment, health services, education and activity precincts outside the central business district.

There is also promised to be a connection to the airport, providing a direct link for travellers without having to tackle the roads or transit via the CBD, the rail journey from Box Hill or Doncaster taking only around 30 minutes.

Presently, using public transport to travel between Warrandyte and the airport can take around two hours, if travellers want to avoid travelling into the CBD to take SkyBus.

“Trains on some sections of this new suburban rail loop will travel at up to 130 kilometres an hour and will be able to deliver very fast services,” Mr Andrews said at a recent press conference.

Greens’ candidate for Warrandyte in the upcoming election, Ben Ramcharan told the Diary that the Suburban Rail Loop will be a much-needed addition to our public transport system, but without upgrades to existing rail lines, he fears overcrowding will continue.

“I’m personally very excited to see plans for a train station in Doncaster as part of the Suburban Rail Loop.

“This will bring rail services even closer to our community in Warrandyte and is something that the Greens have been pushing for for a long time,” he said.

Undoubtedly, the planned project will fundamentally change public transport around Melbourne, moving from a “spoke and wheel” system to a “web”, directly connecting suburbs without the need to travel via the CBD and reducing reliance on the radial transport and road networks.

It will not happen overnight, the project is expected to be completed in stages over multiple decades, with the nal completion projected out to 2050.

The first stages are planned to commence construction in 2022, beginning with the south-east section from Cheltenham to Box hill and the Airport link to Sunshine.

Project delivery

Exact project staging, timing, route and construction methodology has not yet been released, but Mr Andrews says it will be con rmed as part of the full business case for the project.

Cheltenham to Box Hill (south-east)

  • Fully underground rail to minimise impacts.
  • Further technical assessment required to determine precise station locations, staging and construction timeline as part of the full business case.
  • Target work to commence by end- 2022.

Box Hill to Melbourne Airport (north-east)

  • Fully underground rail to minimise impacts.
  • Further technical assessment required to determine precise station locations, staging and construction timeline as part of the full business case.

Melbourne Airport to Sunshine (north-west, Airport Rail Link)

  • Potential sections of underground and surface rail.
  • Technical assessment being undertaken as part of the Melbourne Airport Rail Link.
  • Target work to commence in 2022.

Sunshine to the Werribee line (south-west)

  • Potential sections of underground and surface rail.
  • Further technical assessment required for this stage as part of the full business case.
  • To be constructed in sections over a period of decades.

With a headline budget of $50 billion, the actual costings are yet to be released, but the Government has said that the combined Suburban Rail Loop south-east and north-east sections are expected to cost in the order of $30–50 billion, and the Melbourne Airport Rail Link section is expected to cost $8–13 billion.

Local Liberal member, Ryan Smith said that while the Liberal Party supports road and rail infrastructure, he is concerned that the election promise has been developed outside Infrastructure Victoria.

“The devil is in the detail, which is why this idea needs to be sent to Infrastructure Victoria for proper assessment, costing and planning,” he said.

“The Andrews Government set up Infrastructure Victoria in the first place, to allegedly ‘take the politics out of infrastructure’, yet this proposal is not one that has been assessed by that agency, nor did it feature in Infrastructure Victoria’s 30-year infrastructure plan,” he said.

The Government have not yet outlined the funding arrangements for the project, however the project’s Strategic Assessment states “opportunities to o set capital costs and capture value will be considered in the full business case”.

“This includes direct commercial arrangements or developments at stations together with broader value capture mechanisms”.

Mr Smith said he thinks this project will hit Victorians in the hip pocket.

“Worryingly, Daniel Andrews won’t rule out new taxes to fund this project,” he said.

Mr Smith says Governments must plan for the future, “however Melbourne’s commuters are sitting in traffic and standing in crowded trains today — they need a plan for today, not one that will only reduce growing congestion in 30 years’ time.”

Meanwhile the Liberal Party, so far, have more modest promises for Victoria’s rail network,

Liberals’ current promises are:

  • $487 million to extend the Cranbourne line to Clyde, adding both Cranbourne East and Clyde railway stations.
  • $450 million to extend the Frankston line with an electri ed, twin track to Baxter.
  • $300 million to duplicate the Hurstbridge line between Greensborough and Eltham, rebuild Montmorency station and add carparks at Greensborough, Montmorency and Eltham stations. $77 million to increase services and improve track conditions to Shepparton.

However, Mr Smith says “there will be others as the next three months progress”.

Both major parties have promises of massive infrastructure plans for eastern Melbourne, with the Liberals promising to construct an East West Link before they consider developing their own plans for a North East Link.

Labor is continuing its focus on public transport improvements alongside a North East Link and improved Eastern Freeway.

 

Projects ripe for the picking

Photo: EUGENE HOWARD Birrarung House, Laughing Waters

A $30 MILLION State funded Pick My Project community grants initiative, which has been a hot topic for individuals and community based organisations for the past four months and the public voting window to choose which projects are given a share of the money is about to close.

This means Victorian’s across the state have only a few more days to vote for their top three projects.

The initiative aims to distribute funding across the state into projects such as community events, repair cafes/ sheds, community gardens, art projects, urban landscaping, skill share programs and walking/cycling trails.

Community groups, events and initiatives are part of what binds the residents of Warrandyte and surrounding communities together, so it is no surprise that within five kilometres of the township there are 18 project proposals.

The $30M needs to be distributed evenly across the State, but with 2299 projects being put up for public voting — more than half of that focussed around Melbourne — competition for funding is going to be tough.

The participatory budgeting platform this initiative uses means that the popularity of a project is determined by the community who would use it.

In theory, this ensures funds are assigned to a project the community thinks will bene t them the most.

Victorian’s can each only vote for three projects — the Diary has outlined a selection of the projects proposed in and around Warrandyte.

New vision for Laughing Waters

Local artists Eugene Howard and Kate Hill are collaborating with Parks Victoria, Nillumbik Council and the Wurundjeri Land and Compensation Cultural Heritage Council Aboriginal Corporation to seek funding to restore two buildings designed by Landscape Architect Gordon Ford and Architect Alistair Knox, situated in Laughing Waters Reserve.

Once restored, these buildings will be used as a site for an Artist in Residence program, aimed at bringing in a diverse range of national and international artists, as well as cultural programs, talks, workshops and exhibitions for the local community.

Eugene is also hoping to forge a stronger relationship between artists, the local community and the Wurundjeri, which will bolster the existing strong artist community in Eltham, Warrandyte, Kangaroo Ground and Bend of Islands.

“The project has been developed as a co-use space between the Wurundjeri and Residency Projects,” said Eugene when he spoke to the Diary.

Eugene went on to explain the Wurundjeri wish to use the site as a place for “inter-generational cultural knowledge transfer, bush food/medicine education, access to the nearby eel traps and significant cultural sites in the reserve surrounding the buildings”.

“We will also develop smaller projects that will include public language classes, walking events and recurring panel discussions around Indigenous arts and culture; we will grow our partnerships across the Shire of Nillumbik and up the Birrarung (Yarra) River to enable exhibitions and events to occur from the City of Melbourne to the Yarra Ranges.

“We’re thinking of the site as an arts and cultural centre with a core artist-in- residence stream,” he said.

The restoration of two buildings designed by iconic Australian architects, and an opportunity to further understand and strengthen the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians through art and cultural experiences, would enhance an already rich cultural gestalt.

Warrandyte Men’s Shed

In May 2017, the Diary spoke with Chris “Chewy” Padgham, Assistant Scout Leader to 1st Warrandyte Scouts and long-time advocate of men’s health when he initially attempted to set up a Men’s Shed in Warrandyte.

Chewy had conveyed how a lifetime working to support and improve men’s mental health had taught him that a space where men can work and chat around other men can help them deal with emotional stress in a healthy way, instead of trying to supress it, which often results in them either lashing out violently or completely shutting down and becoming disconnected with society.

“My objective, which is the objective of every men’s shed really, is to have a place where men can meet and talk and share their experience and I think it will be a great thing for Warrandyte.

“I thought that [a men’s shed] was a good opportunity to act as a catalyst and contribute something back to the community and there’s a lot of people that have been talking about it but not a lot happening so I thought I could get the ball rolling,” said Chewy.

The major hurdles faced by Chewy in 2017 were a suitable location and funding.

Chewy is hoping to secure $85,000 from the Pick My Project initiative, which will go towards leasing and converting an appropriate building.

A sporting chance

Warrandyte, Wonga Park and Park Orchards sporting communities have all put forward projects to improve the sports precinct in their respective towns.

The Warrandyte Sporting Group is encouraging the local community to rally behind its proposed exercise trail to be situated at Warrandyte Reserve.

The exercise trail proposal earmarked several sites for construction of the area, including an option for a single site between the tennis court and oval, a cluster of smaller and more focused workout areas located around the ground and a custom kit to be utilised in a flexible fashion.

The site is designed to accommodate people of varying levels of fitness and aptitude with equipment specialising in strengthening, core exercise, aerobics and agility just to name a few.

The trail would not require any maintenance and would utilise recycled plastics to construct environmentally friendly workout equipment.

The project provides a casual and intensive fitness outlet situated in the heart of Warrandyte.

Wonga Park are seeking $140,000 to install flood lights on the community oval which will allow local sporting teams to train at night which will greatly improve the use of the oval during winter.

In Park Orchards, the local sporting group is in the process of negotiating with Manningham Council for an extensive redevelopment of the Domeney Reserve sports buildings.

The club is looking for $84,000 of funding from Pick My Project to develop a community space at the reserve for dinners and social functions.

Domeney Recreation Centre was earmarked for development as part of the Domeney Reserve Management Plan, endorsed by Council in October 2017.

But in the July 2018 council meeting, sporting groups and other users had proposed an alternative development plan for the Reserve facilities, plans which would require additional funding, on top of that which Council had already assigned the project.

Funding for this social space at Domeney Reserve is not just the first of many steps into the development of the facilities at Park Orchards but would also give the community some much needed community function space, something which they currently lack.

These projects are a small sample of the many funding worthy community projects which have been put forward.

Other local initiatives include: erosion control on Anderson’s Creek; resurfacing of the Anderson’s Creek Primary School oval; Suicide prevention seminars; a sensory play space at Kangaroo Ground Primary School; upgrade of the picnic area at Jumping Creek and a new play space at Park Orchards Community House.

Voting criteria requires the participant to reside within 5km of the chosen project and to be 16 years or older.

If you are interested in voting for any of these, or looking to see all the other projects on offer, visit the Pick My Project website before September 17 and pick your projects.

Project funding is scheduled to be handed out at the end of September.
pickmyproject.vic.gov.au