News

Have your say on North East Link


THE NORTH East Link Authority (NELA) has released its Environmental Effects Statement (EES).

Both Manningham and Boroondara Councils have had concerns over, in particular, the light industrial and sporting precincts in their council areas.

Manningham Council claims that 1,200 jobs will be lost with the loss of the light industrial areas around Bulleen and that the road project will take away public sporting facilities in the area.

In a special meeting on June 4, Cr Paul McLeish spoke passionately about the need for compensation for removal of these local amenities, particularly as they are situated on some of the only flat open space in the municipality.

The special meeting also heard public submissions, with public concern expressed for the welfare of the 350-year-old River Red Gum in Bridge Road Bulleen, which council have agreed is a of significant cultural and environmental importance and have included its protection as one of their recommendations, along with Bolin Bolin Billabong.

Based on the preliminary information provided on the proposed North East Link (NEL) project, Manningham Council has submitted 19 recommendations to the North East Link Authority (NELA), of those 19, the following are of significance to the residents of Warrandyte.

The upgrade of Templestowe Road (including an off-road shared path) should be included as part of the NEL project.

That a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service between the CBD and Manningham is incorporated as part of the Doncaster Busway proposal.

Ensure that public transport infrastructure and service improvements to the Doncaster Area Rapid Transit (DART) are provided.

Provide a number of improvements to the local bus network to support public transport connections between the City of Manningham and the La Trobe National Employment and Innovation Cluster.

Develop the existing Doncaster Park & Ride site to create a mixed-use Transit-Oriented Development (TOD).

That a corridor along the Eastern Freeway is preserved for a future heavy rail link to Doncaster (or that the Doncaster Busway is designed to allow for future transition to heavy rail).

To deliver a number of walking and cycling improvements including a new shared-path bridge across the Yarra River between Bulleen and Heidelberg and safer pedestrian crossings in various locations.

Enhance the Koonung Creek Linear Park and associated trails, including a safe crossing point at Doncaster Road and maintain the existing natural landscape environment.

Minimise or mitigate impact to several sites of (cultural, recreational or community) significance throughout the municipality.

Provide prominent public art at key “gateway” entrances to Manningham.

Ensure that no road tolls are introduced to the Eastern Freeway

Public submissions to the North East Link EES close at 5pm, Friday, June 7.

To have your say go to https://engage.vic.gov.au/north-east-link-project

The next step is for the appointment of an Inquiry and Advisory Committee (IAC) who will conduct hearings starting on July 25.

Those who have made a written submission will be invited to give a verbal submission to the panel.

Your Say: Brickbats and Bouquets

RSL Access an issue for our ageing Veterans

Dear Diary,
Two veterans from the Second World War led the march along Yarra Street on Anzac Day this year.
One used a walking frame; the other was in a wheelchair.
Warrandyte’s citizens greeted them as the heroes they are.
They were waved at, cheered and clapped.
The march ended at the bridge for the turn into — and up to — the place where the service was to be held.
And there began the problem for those leading men.
The climb up the steps was steep and long.
And the steps were not deeply spaced nor wide enough for a walking frame.
Certainly out of the question for a wheelchair.
Alternatively, the second entrance was a little further along.
A make-piece railing, bound with wire which end sprung dangerously into space.
More difficult steps leading to a steep and rutted track along which it was impossible to push a wheelchair.
My 96-year-old father was in that wheelchair.
He had to leave it and finally reach the service area on the arms of strong and willing relations.
When the National Anthem had been sung and all the photographs taken, he had to leave the area the same way — walking with difficulty on the arms of the stalwart younger generation.
Access difficulties are not confined to veterans in their nineties.
My generation of Vietnam “boys” are only a few years behind and they too will find, if they already have not done so, that the easy part of the march ends at the entrance to the RSL.
Babes in prams and pushers, the civilian elderly and the disabled are all faced with a steep climb made extra difficult by dangerous path work.
Last year I was already worried about access to the service area for this year’s Anzac Day and, not knowing how heritage overlay, OHS, the roles of Warrandyte RSL, Manningham Council and the State government could affect improvements, I approached State MP, Ryan Smith as a first call.
He readily took up the problem and began talks and a visit with the RSL and the Council.
Then came the State election and despite two emails to Mr Smith since then I have heard nothing.
And nothing was done to make this year’s end of march access easier and safer.
Please, is there nothing that can be done to improve the situation before Anzac Day 2020?
Gaynor Bishop, Warrandtye

Hoon Hassles in Jumping Creek

Dear Diary,
This is an issue I think everyone living in and around Warrandyte must be made aware of and I ask that you all share this with your friends to ensure as many people as possible will know about this very local, potentially dangerous situation.
Jumping Creek Reserve, off Jumping Creek Road, but across the Yarra from North Warrandyte, approximately 1.5 kms as the crow flies north of Warrandyte Village, is a ticking time bomb.
I live directly opposite the picnic area and car park, and along with my neighbours I enjoy hearing visitors having a good time at the Reserve during the day.
However, as night falls other visitors arrive, doing burnouts and causing so much noise it is unbearable.
I’m sure this terrorises the wildlife in that area as well.
Sometimes they light fires (with wood provided by Parks Vic) and then they leave, often leaving the fires burning….and these fires are not always in the BBQ areas.
My neighbours and I regularly have to call the CFA and police but of course after hours police from Doncaster are never going to arrive in time to catch the hoons.
Last night (early April) at 10:30pm the situation escalated dramatically.
Hoons were doing burnouts for half an hour before leaving and peace reigned again, for ten minutes until the first massive explosion bought me to my feet.
Across the river was a huge car fire, flames leaping up among the top leaves of gum trees.
More explosions and finally the car was totally engulfed with the sky alight with fire and smoke.
We called the emergency services with the CFA arriving within 10 minutes.
They extinguished the fire before it escaped into the tinder dry bush on this occasion, but imagine if it was one of our hot nights with a north wind blowing.
The river would be no fire break as the embers would be landing in our village. We have two major issues here and locals have tried to eliminate them in the past even meeting with an MP on site, to no avail.
These two issues:
The park is only ever closed if the fire rating is severe or extreme, not necessarily on a Total Fire Ban day. This means vehicle access is 24 hours at all other times.
Wood fires BBQs are available here, with wood provided by Parks Vic, all year round. In such a high fire danger area why do we need wood fired BBQs? Parks Vic answer to this is “healthy Parks, healthy people”.I believe it would be acceptable to all visitors to the park to have no fires at all in the fire ban season. If I can’t light a fire 50 meters away on my property, why should visitors to the park be able to light fires? Remembering that not all fires are lit in the BBQ areas.
Ok locals, what should we do about this situation, are you all happy to allow this to continue?
I believe it is only a matter of time, not if, but when, before a similar situation arises and we locals are not around to call emergency services.
We need the park closed at sunset and wood fired BBQs removed.
A small price to pay to keep Warrandyte and surrounding suburbs safe.
Gail Watts, North Warrandyte

Young people these days!

Meet North Warrandyte’s Litter Warrior.
Liz Blackwood takes a whole week of work each year to pick up rubbish along the north side of the Yarra and along Research-Warrandyte Road.
This year she collected over 4 cubic metres of other people’s rubbish.
She collects it in large bags then sorts it: the skip is for landfill and large yellow bags for recyclables.
“Thanks to mum and dad for helping and also bringing me icy poles on the side of the road…it was hot this year!” she said.
Liz’s mother Celia told the Diary that Liz has been doing this for several years, occasionally with the help of family, friends and neighbours.
“I think this is the 4th time Liz has had a skip to fill — it was filled up further when neighbours paddled the river and even collected a fuel tank,” Celia said.
“Pick up your rubbish people,” quipped Liz.
The Diary offers a round of applause to this amazing Warrandytian.
Great work Liz.

 

Lions Park ready to roll


WITH THE BRIDGE Upgrade now almost complete, attention turns to the Lions Park, previously the Lions Tennis Courts and more recently the work site for the bridgeworks.
The masterplan for the Lions Park project was approved by Manningham Council in September last year, and covered in our October issue.
Key features include additional picnic facilities, seating, barbeques, outdoor fitness equipment, drinking fountains, signage, public art displays and landscaping work, which includes an improved path layout and river access.
Angelo Kourambas, Director City Planning and Community at Manningham Council, told the Diary: “The site of the Lions Tennis Court will be updated as a part of the broader Lions Park Masterplan, which will deliver places and spaces for the whole community to enjoy.
“Lions Park works will be undertaken in a staged implementation over 2019/20 and 2020/21 and the immediate focus will be on updates to the areas surrounding the bridge, access and carpark improvements.
“Further community consultation will be undertaken around the design of the Lions Park play space and area and nearby picnic facilities.”
Council has allocated a total of $450,000 to the project in this and the next financial year.
There is an excellent animated video of the planned works here .
For more information, see manningham.vic.gov.au/manningham-approves-lions-park-masterplan

The Bridge is complete: but at what cost?


AS THE QUEEN of the Shire was returned to her rightful place, State Government politicians have come out to applaud the completion of the Warrandyte Bridge.
Member for Yan Yean Danielle Green has officially announced the completion of the project to widen the bridge to three lanes and build a new shared path for pedestrians and cyclists across the Yarra River.
“We’ve worked hard to make this bridge safer while preserving the unique character of the bridge and this area of Warrandyte,” said Ms Green.
She also commended the people of Warrandyte for their patience during the roadworks.
“We appreciate all of the feedback we received from locals who helped shape the look and feel of this bridge and showed great patience while we made these important safety improvements,” she said.
Member for Eastern Metropolitan Region, Sonja Terpstra said: “I am really pleased to see the results of this project to make the bridge crossing safer and easier for all local road users.”
So with the politicians marking the project as complete, the Diary thought it was time to ask the authorities concerned with the Bridge Upgrade project whether they regarded it as complete, and what the total cost was.
Nillumbik suggested that we ask VicRoads whether they had any further landscaping works to be done on the north side.
Manningham told us that “Council is working with VicRoads to plan the delivery of the surrounding landscape works” in particular with reference to the Lions Park project, so we take it that there is still more site clearing and landscaping work to be done on the south side by VicRoads.
We asked VicRoads whether they considered the project to be complete, however they had not responded by the time we went to press.
Cost of the Upgrade
The Andrews Labor Government committed $5.1 million funding for the project in March 2016.
In May 2017, we ascertained the contract had been awarded to VEC Civil Engineering Pty Ltd for $4.265M.
In November 2017, following representations in State Parliament by local member for Warrandyte, Ryan Smith, a further $200,000 had been secured for the slip-lane on the south side.
Following extensive delays to the project we asked VicRoads in November 2018 what the final cost of the project would be, in view of rumours circulating that the cost had blown out way beyond the original funding commitments.
At that time, they responded “The total cost of the project will be provided once complete”.
The Diary has continued to ask VicRoads over the past month what the final cost will be, and they have failed to respond to our questions.
We will publish an update if we learn anything further.

Nillumbik representation report published


THE VICTORIAN Electoral Commission (VEC) have released its preliminary report regarding the electoral structure of Nillumbik Shire Council in its representation review.

Following an analysis of the projected population/voter data and the comments made in the Preliminary Submissions the VEC want feedback on two options:

  • Option A: Seven councillors elected from three wards (one three‑councillor ward and two two‑councillor wards)
  • Option B: Seven councillors elected from seven single‑councillor wards.

 

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The VEC has highlighted its preference is for Option A.

An extensive 36 page report has been produced by the VEC and can read and downloaded here.

The urban/rural divide and the challenge of fairly representing residents was a common theme during the submission period.

It is common knowledge that the 435 square kilometre shire, with an estimated population of around 50,000 struggles with the challenges of having a highly concentrated population in its urban areas (Eltham had a population of 18,314 in the 2016 census) but has a responsibility to conserve the Green Wedge which makes up 91% of the geographical area and a population of 13,000.

This, coupled with ideological differences between significant community groups within Nillumbik’s Green Wedge, make fair representation a challenge.

Under the Local Government Act 1989 (LGA89), a subdivided municipality needs to ensure that each councillor represents around 10% of the total voter population.

The VEC uses LGA89 to calculate the total number of councillors needed to accurately represent each ward.

The choice to keep the number of councillors at seven is based on population growth projections which estimates Nillumbik Shire’s voting population will increase by 9.51% by the year 2036.

A large number of the submissions called for a system based on un-subdivided proportional representation, and while its preferred multi-councillor ward system does rely on proportional representation, it decided to not adopt a single ward model:

“The VEC recognises that there are some significant advantages to an un-subdivided electoral structure for Nillumbik Shire Council.

It would mean the proportional representation system would be used at elections and ensure that all seven councillors would be subject to the same quota to be elected (12.5%), which increases the community’s confidence during elections.

The un-subdivided electoral structure would provide voters with the widest choice of candidates at elections, enable both geographic and non-geographic communities of interest to elect a representative based on the proportion of support by the whole community and promote a whole-of-shire focus for councillors in a local council area where urban and rural interests are deeply inter-related due to their shared concerns about balancing environmental and development priorities.

However, the VEC has observed that elections for Nillumbik Shire Council have consistently been highly contested.

…An un-subdivided election for Nillumbik Shire Council will result in a lengthy ballot paper with an unwieldy list of candidates.

In the VEC’s experience, longer ballot papers can be confusing for voters and more difficult to fill out correctly, leading to higher levels of informal voting through voter error thereby effectively disenfranchising these voters.

On balance, the VEC did not favour an un-subdivided electoral structure for Nillumbik Shire Council for the following reasons:

  • An un-subdivided electoral structure would result in a much larger ballot paper.
  • The preliminary submissions have tended to focus on the division between interest groups with conservation or development priorities in the Green Wedge.

However, the VEC has generally heard that there remain differences in experiences and interests between urban and rural voters in the Shire.

Unlike an un-subdivided electoral structure, a subdivided structure would ensure there remains recognition of the broad geographic communities of interest in Nillumbik Shire.”

The VEC’s preferred three-ward multi-councillor option divides the shire into urban and rural wards and the multi-councillor option “ensures that the same counting system will be used in all three wards (i.e. proportional representation).”

With more than one councillor per ward, it is hoped this would address the issues of polarised council policy, specifically in the Green Wedge as it will not be just one councillor representing the view of everyone.

However, this is only going to work if the views/opinions of two Green Wedge council representatives are different enough to bring balanced representation to both conservation and development factions within the Green Wedge.

The VEC does highlight that under the three-ward Option, the Artisan Hills Ward is disproportionately larger — in terms of area — than the other two wards and may mean long travel times for those elected councillors, but the VEC states that this two-councillor structure keeps with the 10% representation tolerance.

If Option-A is chosen, will it “fix” the legislative issues in the Green Wedge? — probably not. It is this journalist’s opinion that the ideological and policy issues of the Green Wedge transcend Local Government.

However, if having multi-councillor wards stops the trend of Council swinging dramatically between development and conservation and allows for some debate on how to address both sides of the Green Wedge debate, then it is a good thing.

The VEC wants to know your opinion on Option A and Option B, public submissions are open until 5pm, Wednesday, May 8.

Submissions must include the full name, address and contact telephone number of the submitter.

Submissions without this information cannot be accepted.

Submissions can be made via:

The online submission form at vec.vic.gov.au

Email at nillumbik.review@vec.vic.gov.au

Post to

Victorian Electoral Commission

Level 11, 530 Collins Street

Melbourne VIC 3000

On Monday, May 13, there will be a public hearing at Nillumbik Council.

At this hearing, submitters will have a chance to talk about their submission in person.