News

Manningham declares a climate emergency


MANNINGHAM CITY Council unanimously approved the motion to declare a climate emergency at their January 28 Ordinary Council Meeting (OCM).

This motion brings Manningham Council in line with more than 1,000 councils across the planet, and over 85 councils in Australia who have been declaring climate emergencies since early 2019.

The global political movement to recognise the threat of climate change and take action against it began in April 2019 with Scotland and Wales becoming the first countries to declare a climate emergency.

During the January 28 OCM, Councillor Mike Zafiropoulous tabled Notice of Motion 1/2020 and outlined the need for this action.

“As councillors we have a responsibility, not only to address the local concerns of residents through core issues such as waste collection, planning permits, road maintenance, et cetera — but also broader issues such as the climate emergency we are facing,” he said.

Later, Cr Zafiropoulous went on to talk about the evidence.

“The scientific evidence on this issue is overwhelming and the consequence of no action is catastrophic, not only for Manningham, but for the whole planet.”

Cr Andrew Conlon, who seconded the motion, spoke specifically of the increased impact Warrandyte faces.

“Without climate change, Warrandyte is already in the most prone, most at risk areas in terms of population, terrain and fuel, in the world.

“So it would be ignorant of us to basically put our heads in the sand and not acknowledge that we can do more and that we will do more in the years to come.”

An amended motion, introduced by Cr Sophy Galbally, to add the words “climate emergency” specifically to the clauses of the motion being discussed, triggered a 30-minute debate into the definition of the words “serious” and “emergency”, highlighting concerns surrounding the bureaucratic implications of the use of the word “emergency”.

In his closing remarks, Cr Zafiropoulous spoke about the popularity and symbolic nature of the term “Climate Emergency” and the importance of Council to follow a global trend.

“…to be consistent with other organisations initiating such action, I think it is much better to use the term Climate Emergency in the motion… I think it strengthens the motion if we include it there.”

In attendance at the OCM were representatives of WarrandyteCAN who have been lobbying Manningham Council on the issue since August 2019.

In late September, members of WarrandyteCAN met with the then Mayor, Councillor Paula Piccinini and Mannigham Council CEO Andrew Day to discuss the issue, following the matter up with letters to other councillors in support of a climate emergency declaration and implementation of a structured emergency action plan.

Subsequently, WarrandyteCAN had a meeting with Cr. Zafiropoulos.

“WarrandyteCAN is very grateful for having been given the opportunity to present our case to the Council, and we highly commend the Councillors for passing this landmark resolution,” said WarrandyteCAN President, Jeff Cranston.

The passing of Notice of Motion 1/2020 not only means Mannigham recognises the threat of climate change to the municipality but empowers council to prepare a response in its 2020 Environment Report by including a Climate Emergency Response Plan.

 

Bridge and traffic issues continue

THERE ARE several continuing issues concerning the bridge, its surrounds and heavy traffic and the Diary will keep you updated with progress.

Fire Danger Sign

The Fire Danger Sign on Kangaroo Ground Road on the north side of bridge has not been operating since the start of the current fire season.

The Diary discussed this matter with North Warrandyte CFA following the Bushfire Scenario meeting in November.

Their initial enquiries to the Country Fire Authority(CFA) HQ were met with the response that, although the data to be displayed on the signs is provided by CFA, the actual signs are owned and operated by Emergency Services Victoria (EMV).

Further enquiries by CFA and by some readers to EMV’s ‘Report a Fault’ line were met with a standard response that the fault was known but they were awaiting a part. 

By mid-December, when nothing further had been done, North Warrandyte CFA members investigated the matter and found that the box had not been touched or opened for many months.

When this was put to EMV they eventually did attend and reported back that they could not work on the sign at its current location due to a health and safety issue; namely that there is a new High Voltage power cable immediately above the sign.

After enquiries from the Diary and representations from Ryan Smith MP to the Emergency Services Minister’s office, we finally received a statement from Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp: 

“EMV is aware of the current operational issues with the Fire Danger Rating sign at North Warrandyte and is working closely with the Nillumbik Shire Council, CFA and local brigades to come to a resolution that meets the needs of the community. 

“The current location of the sign means it cannot be serviced due to considerable safety and access issues and once a new location is sourced, the Fire Danger Rating sign will be reinstalled.”

So, that is the current situation, but it raises further questions.

When the sign was originally erected in 2014, the high voltage (HV) powerline was 3-wire and passed to the west of the now bundled line.

At a very early stage of the bridge widening project, the HV line was converted to bundled and re-routed directly over the sign, and at a later stage of the project a small gate was set into the bridge railing to provide access to the sign.

Where were EMV when all this was being planned and why did they allow all that work to happen, or did VicRoads and Ausnet Services never consult EMV?

And as it is not working now, should it be covered up because out-of-towners will come across the bridge and say “Ah, there’s no fire danger today!”?

Readers have also reported that the Fire Danger Sign at the strawberry farm on the Ringwood Road was was not displaying the Severe rating on December 20.

Commissioner Crisp advises “In relation to the South Warrandyte Fire Danger Rating sign, during routine checks all Fire Danger Ratings on the sign are working effectively and there have been no reported issues; but as a precaution a further in-person assessment will be completed shortly.”

Traffic light sequence

Several people have noted and commented that the traffic light sequence at the lights north of the bridge has been changed during the last four weeks.

The lights used to work well.

Now, they are causing a build-up of traffic on Research-Warrandyte Road, with motorists facing red lights even when there is no traffic on Kangaroo Ground Road.

Further, the lights are only letting a few cars through at a time.

The Diary contacted VicRoads to ask if there was a fault or if this was a deliberate change.

A spokesperson for the Department of Transport stated:

“In response to community feedback, we adjusted the sequencing of the signals to provide more time for northbound traffic on Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Road, which has reduced queuing at the roundabout.

“We will look into whether we can make any further improvements to improve traffic flow in all directions.”

So, yes, the current sequence does mean a shorter green light for drivers exiting Reasearch-Warrandyte Road, and yes, it is deliberate.

For the moment, drivers will have to wait and see if VicRoads deem the queues on Research-Warrandyte Road to be too long and make further adjustments to the sequnence.

Trucks through Warrandyte

Following our December article Fed-up residents call for Warrandyte truck ban, and yet another major truck accident at the bridge, the matter has been taken further by local activist Ben Ramcharan.

He and local residents are writing to VicRoads and members in all levels of government, calling for:

•  improved safety for residents, road users and pedestrians

•  fairness to our hard-working truck drivers

•  minimised environmental impact

•  minimised impact on local character

They have conducted a straw poll on social media and present a wide-ranging list of suggestions for solving the problems, with scores for and against each option.

The Diary contacted VicRoads and asked if they were actively looking at the problem of trucks on these steep and winding roads, and to enquire about the status of the 30-tonne limit on Research-Warrandyte Road, now that repairs have taken place to the culvert near the traffic lights.

A Department of Transport spokesperson responded “It’s important all drivers, especially drivers of trucks and large vehicles, drive to the conditions and make sure loads are secure at all times.

“The safety of our roads and road users is our highest priority and we regularly inspect our road network to identify any areas where we can further improve safety.

“A temporary 30-tonne load limit was introduced on Research-Warrandyte Road while we carried out works on the road, and we’re now reviewing whether this limit will continue to remain in place.

“Our five-year crash data shows there has not been an increase in crashes involving heavy vehicles in the Warrandyte area,” the spokesperson said.

Shared pathway

VicRoads have finally erected signs on the shared pathway on the west side of the bridge to mark it as such, a shared pathway for pedestrians and cyclists.

However, these signs are only visible to cyclists travelling south on the pathway, with start and end signs erected.

There are no signs visible at all to northbound cyclists.

A Department of Transport spokesperson tells us “We will review the signage for the shared path on the western side of the bridge and install additional signage, if necessary.”

Cyclists on Research-Warrandyte Road

A new hazard could occur on Research-Warrandyte Road and other main roads in the area if RACV’s current, well-intentioned push for the State Government to mandate a minimum passing distance for motorists when overtaking cyclists is passed.

The proposal would mean that motorists would legally have to leave at least one metre of space between their vehicle and a cyclist when overtaking.

Now that the entire 7.5km length of Research-Warrandyte has been painted with double white lines, it would be impossible for motorists to overtake a cyclist anywhere on that road without crossing the lines.

In a case of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t”, even now motorists who slow down to 4 km/h behind a cyclist puffing and panting up a steep hill quickly get a long queue of traffic behind them, and find that it is not long before someone behind them comes out and tries to overtake the lot.

Work to begin on Lions Park

By SANDI MILLER

CONSTRUCTION of the upgrade of Lions Park in Warrandyte River Reserve is anticipated to start in April this year.

Angelo Kourambas, Director of City Planning and Community at Manningham Council says the first stage of works will include landscaping around the bridge, creating a new car park, paths, installing fitness equipment and new picnic tables.

“The masterplan for the upgrade of Lions Park includes two new picnic shelters with barbecues, one near the bridge, and one closer to the play space,” he said.

This is in addition to the existing barbecue shelter in Lions Park.

“To allow the space to be used for cooking and eating and improve accessibility, the existing shelter will be updated to include a new barbecue with two plates that is wheelchair accessible, together with picnic facilities,” Mr Kourambas said.

However, this is not without controversy. 

Denis Robertshaw of the Warrandyte Lions Club is disappointed that the existing barbeque is being replaced with a smaller one.

“In 1988 Warrandyte Lions raised money from the community to construct an undercover electric BBQ facility with picnic tables in the surrounds.

“This is a four-burner hot plate unit with stainless bench top that has served locals and tourists for 32 years.

“As part of council redevelopment, they are reducing the four-unit cooktop to two, at considerable cost, requiring a complete new stainless top.

“Why this change is happening defies logic, all four units get regular use.

“Apparently another two-unit BBQ will be constructed closer to the bridge,” he said.

Mr Kourambas said that the change to the existing shelter “has been considered in light of the facilities featured in the overall masterplan for the Lions Park upgrade”.

Mr Robertshaw said that due to lack of use, Lions are relinquishing the tennis courts to make way for landscaping and car parking and instead will be contributing to a Fitness Station to be built under the bridge.

 “It will be a sad state of affairs if our original BBQ unit is rehashed, as it was an initiative under the Bicentennial Year,” Mr Robertshaw said.

A shed amongst the gum trees

MENS’ MENTAL health has a new home in Warrandyte. 

Two years in the making, the Warrandyte Men’s Shed held its inaugural meeting on Wednesday, January 15.

The Warrandyte Men’s Shed is the latest project by Chris “Chewy” Padgham who has a history of advocating for male mental health.

In the past he has worked for the Victorian Red Cross Men’s Referral Service, MensLine Australia, Shire of Yarra Rangers Kids’ Service and he is currently Group Leader for Warrandyte Scouts.

Until they can find a permanent venue, the Warrandyte Men’s Shed is making use of the Warrandyte Scouts Hall to host its weekly get-togethers.

At the first meeting, Warrandyte Lions provided decks of cards, board games and basic supplies for tea, coffee and sandwiches.

“I just want to create somewhere where men can get together, enjoy each other’s company and do the things they like to do,” said Chewy.

“I’m really just trying to create an environment to facilitate that.”

The concept of a Men’s Shed in Australia as a place for men to come together, and “work” together towards positive mental health first began in the late 1970s – early 1980s.

Traditionally, these community “sheds” are a space where retired men can work on community projects together, usually using practical, mechanical, carpentry and metal working skills they acquired through their former working life, and this concept is still deeply rooted in what a modern Men’s Shed is, but with Generation X entering the retirement window, the types of skills retired Australians have are beginning to change.

Eltham Men’s Shed is a great example of this with their website posting about the Shed’s activities outside the traditional workshopping projects – such as gardening, photography, cooking and even weekly bicycle rides.

What does this mean for our Warrandyte Men’s Shed? 

It means its purpose and its potential is open-ended.

The collective work and social experiences of the members of the inaugural Warrandyte Shed were diverse.

“We could have these meetings under a gum tree, it doesn’t really matter”, said member, Don Hughes.

“It’s about getting a bunch of blokes together to share stuff and help out when we can,” he said.

Living up to these words, the group did exactly that. 

The group moved from the Scout Hall for their second meeting and formed a working party to help a local resident clean up her front yard following the devastating hailstorm that pummelled Warrandyte recently.

Don also spoke about how the Warrandyte Men’s Shed can offer support to males of all ages.

“There’s also a place for younger men, perhaps they get retrenched or something like that, this could be a place for them too.

“Often there is a youth element who may need an uncle figure and this could be a place for them to get camaraderie that way,” he said.

Currently auspiced by Warrandyte Community Association, Chewy is going through the process of getting the Warrandyte Shed registered with the Victorian Men’s Shed Association (VMSA), he is also looking to council for support.

Regardless, the Shed is up and running.

The vision of VMSA is “for all Victorian men to be happy and healthy contributors within their local community”; with Warrandyte’s rich tapestry of community focussed organisations and its artistic history it is still unclear how this vision will manifest in the Warrandyte Shed.

However, camaraderie, sharing stories, and helping others were core values within the group present at the first meeting, and whatever direction Chewy and the other members take their Shed, it is sure to contribute significantly towards fostering positive masculinity in our community.

Men of all ages are welcome to attend the Warrandyte Men’s Shed.

The Shed meets every Wednesday at 10am at Warrandyte Scout Hall, Stiggants Reserve.

Membership costs $15 per year.

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Storm clean up


Warrandyte was hard hit by Sunday’s hail storm, with hundreds of calls to SES with damage from gold-ball-sized hail to skylights, windows  and cars as well as flooding and damage from falling trees.

The hail also caused tree canopies to be “shredded” with huge amounts of leaf debris blanketing much of the area.

Once the warm weather return, this additional leaf litter will only add to the fuel for any potential bushfires, making the cleanup imperative.

Manningham Residents

Council have stepped up to assist with the removal of green waste, with Manningham Council sending out an army of street sweepers to clear the roadsides on Monday, and have also offered Manningham residents several ways to get rid of the extra leaf litter.

To make use of these offers you must provide proof of residency (any official document with your address on it).

1. Free garden waste drop off and extended opening hours

From Tuesday, January 21 to Saturday, January 25 Manningham residents impacted by the storm can drop off green waste free of charge to Manningham’s Garden waste centre at the corner of Blackburn Road and Websters Road, Templestowe.

Garden waste centre extended opening hours:
Tuesday, January 21 to Friday, January 24:
  • 6.00am to 8.00am
  • 12.00pm noon to 2.00pm
  • 5.00pm to 7.00pm.
Saturday January 25: 
  • 7.00am to 12.00pm noon.

2. Free skip bins to dispose of (green waste) storm debris

Free skip bins will be made available to Manningham residents wishing to dispose of storm debris (green waste only). The bins will be staffed by Council officers from 6.00am to 4.00pm each day from Wednesday, January 22. Please note: Council officers will not be able to assist residents to dispose of any waste.

Skip bin locations (green waste only):

3. Additional garden waste kerbside collection service

Storm affected residents can contact Council  have their garden waste bin collected this weekend. To opt in to the service simply contact the Manningham customer service team and book in your extra collection.

Please note that bin must be put out on the evening of Friday, January 24 and will be collected on either Saturday, January 25 or Sunday, January 26.

Nillumbik residents

Nillumbik Shire Council will arrange a second green waste bin pick up in the North Warrandyte area later in the week, details to follow.

A spokesperson from Nillumbik Council told the Diary, “Affected residents from these areas can use their green waste vouchers to dispose of their storm debris free of charge at the Nillumbik Recycling and Recovery Centre, 290 Yan Yean Rd, Plenty.

“If you have already used your three vouchers, you can access up to three additional vouchers”.

These vouchers are valid for a two-week period from Friday, January 24 to Monday, February 3.

The Recycling and Recovery Centre is open Friday-Monday, 8am-4pm.

You should bring your rates notice with you.

Bushfires: How can I help?


THE MEDIA COVERAGE around the bushfires currently raging around Australia is as intense and terrifying as the fires themselves — as well it should be.
Warrandyte and its surrounding communities have been lucky so far this season and many people want to know how they can help those in Victoria and beyond who have been impacted by the recent and ongoing bushfires.
But the number of groups asking for money, supplies or time is overwhelming and it can be daunting trying to decide who and how to help.
If you are suffering from analysis paralysis then this list is for you.

Five ways you can make a difference

1. Donate to the Bushfire Disaster Appeal

Bendigo Bank and The Salvation Army have partnered to raise funds to assist all communities affected by bushfire in Australia.
Donations can be made through the appeals website or over the counter at a local Bendigo Community Bank branch.

2. Give provisions to the CFA

Coldstream, Belgrave, Lilydale and Gruyere Fire Brigades are currently accepting donated provisions as part of their East Gippsland Bushfire Appeal.
Supplies will begin their journey to Bairnsdale and communities impacted by bushfire on Monday and locals who are looking to contribute have time this weekend to give what they can:

THESE ARE THE ITEMS DESPERATELY REQUIRED:
Long Life Milks / Breakfast Long Life Drinks
Cereals
Non perishable Can items.
Biscuits (Salada, Ritz, Cruskits etc)
Salt / Pepper / Sugar
Small Drink Bottles
Bottled Water
Pet Items – Especially Food, Leashes, Bowls, Bedding
Camp Chairs
Camping Beds
Sun hats
New Kids Thongs and Sandals
Toiletries – Shampoo/Cond, Deodorants
New Make up
New Brushes and Combs
Face Washes & good Towels
Moist Towelettes
Nappies
Tampons and Pads
Any Bedding, Doonas, Blankets or New Pillows (Please mark size on items)
Childrens Pyjamas
Packs of New Childrens Underpants and Socks (Boys or Girls)
Suitcases
Backpacks/handbags/purses
Zip-lock bags (all sizes)
Shopping bags (all sizes)
***STRICTLY NO 2 minute noodles, adult clothing, books or bbq’s – there is already an abundance donated.****
(source: Facebook)

Times and locations for donating:
Coldstream: Currently not accepting due to overwhelming community support and a lack of space.

Lilydale: Saturday, 10am–12pm and Sunday, 10am–11:30am.
Unit 1/100 Beresford road Opposite super soil and behind Melbourne heating.
Please enter from Hiltech place.
There will be a CFA vehicle on site helping to direct you

Gruyere: Saturday, 10am–12pm and Sunday, 10am–11:30am.
103 Killara Road — this is opposite the Gruyere fire station and next to the primary school.
There will be a CFA vehicle on site to direct you.

Belgrave: Saturday, 2pm–6pm and Sunday 10:30am–1:30pm.
4 Bayview Road, Belgrave.

3. Donate to Wildlife Victoria

Wildlife Victoria are currently seeking donations to provide support to Wildlife Shelters impacted by bushfire.
Donations will allow these shelters to repair fences, building and enclosures to continue to the work of caring for Australian wildlife.
Donations can be made through their website.

4. Share your space

Airbnb’s Open Homes program aims to provide free, temporary housing for those affected by bushfire in Victoria.
If you would like more information on how to get involved, visit their website.

5. Don’t become the next problem

The messages of preparation and planning are still relevant and people should continue to prepare their property, update their fire plan and follow-through when the weather, fire danger rating, total fire ban, etc. trigger you to leave.
With potentially still months of hot weather ahead of us, we should not let our guard down on the home front.
If you were not able to attend the Be Ready Warrandyte event held late last year, Eltham CFA will be running a Fire Ready Victoria meeting on Tuesday, January 14 at 7:30pm at 909 Main Road Eltham.
Ensure you understand the risks and know what to do in the event of an emergency.
To get the latest on the Plenty Fires there is a Community Readiness Meeting being held on Sunday, January 5 at the Plenty Hall.
Finally, remember if you do want to go camping in the bush, walking for the day or spend the weekend at the beach — be mindful of the fire danger rating, where the bushfires are, the weather and the current dangers (via the Vic Emergency app).
Smoke from bushfires across Australia are having a detrimental impact on air quality, the current advice is: if the visibility is less than 1.5kilometres limit your time outside.
Stay safe.