News

Community investment: Bank celebrates 15 years of “giving back”

WARRANDYTE Community Bank Branch has celebrated its 15-year anniversary at a special event held on Friday March 23.

Over 140 shareholders, community group representatives, directors, staff members and dignitaries gathered in The Grand Hotel’s Riverview Room to acknowledge the ongoing community service of the bank, which since its inception in 2003, has donated $2.8 million in community grants and sponsorships.

Community liaison officer Dee Dickson, who organised the celebration, said the event was so meaningful because it was not just about giving money, but about building a sense of community.

“The number of people that came to me and said we value your partnership and the relationships that the bank creates and fosters, that was really lovely to hear,” she said.

Branch chairman Aaron Farr said in his speech, that ordinary customers helped provide valuable community resources and facilities just by banking with the local branch.

“We are giving money back, and that’s our way of contributing but, we couldn’t do that without our customers,” he said.

“Thank-you to everyone in this room, because you are the reason we can do that.”

According to the bank’s 2017/18 financial reports, the branch returned over $400,000 in charitable donations to local schools, sporting clubs, emergency services and community groups in that financial year alone, which was nearly 80 per cent of its operating profit.

Mr Farr said in his speech, that the bank aims to grow that effort in the years to come.

“How nice would it be in another 15 years to be giving back $1 million a year,” he said.

“Just think of what we could actually achieve.”

Guests heard about the positive impact the bank’s various donations and contributions have had upon the local community, including a $30,000 grant awarded to the Burch Memorial Preschool, which allowed for much needed renovations and provided a second educational space for the preschool’s limited three-year-old program.

Burch Memorial Preschool President Sharmini Philp said in her speech, that the funding helped create a crucial support network for young families that was previously missing in Wonga Park.

“We don’t really have the words to describe the impact the Warrandyte Community Bank grant has had in our community,” she said.

“I still get goosebumps when I think about it.”

Ms Philp also said the preschool community did not just value the funding, but also the support, encouragement and guidance they received from the bank.

“They were actively involved and shared the journey with us,” she said.

“We really had no idea about the process at the time and the guidance from the Warrandyte Community Bank staff was amazing.”

Ms Dickson said the project was among those she was most passionate about, because the funding did not just provide infrastructure, but gave the preschool a space where young families could come together and meet.

“It ticks every box and exemplifies everything we hold dear to us,”
she said.

“Those sorts of projects really bring people in the community together.”

The branch also offers a scholarship program for first-time tertiary students whose circumstances might make a university degree otherwise unattainable, with funding of $10,000 delivered over the first two years of study.

Alex Ward, a nursing and paramedicine student at the Australian Catholic University in Ballarat, is currently in her second year of scholarship funding.

Alex, who has had to move to Ballarat, said the scholarship helped her pay for expenses such as, food, rent, petrol, textbooks and placement uniforms.

“If it was not for the scholarship, I would never have been able to study this degree,” she said.

“It’s the entire reason I can study in Ballarat.”

The branch, which is a franchise of the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank group, was created thanks to funding from locals, following the closure of the last of the big banks in Warrandyte.

John Provan, a founding director and shareholder, said in his speech that a volunteer steering committee of local business owners and club representatives made an enormous contribution in establishing the branch.

“We attended the local markets and the festival, selling shares to raise the necessary $600,000 plus, from approximately 360 shareholders, to commence the branch,” he said.

“It’s been a long haul and we didn’t dream we’d get to this stage.”

After the formalities, guests were able to socialise, relax, have a drink and enjoy the live music by Nick Charles and Mick Pealing.

Frock up for 2018 Mayoral Fireball

THIS YEAR, the Mayor of Manningham City Council, Andrew Conlon, has selected Fireball as the chosen charity of his annual Mayoral Ball.

Cr Conlon told the Diary one of the reasons he became a councillor was because his home almost burnt down in the Warrandyte fires in 2014.

“The CFA do a fantastic job and it’s important they have the resources to keep protecting our community.”

The Fireball committee is working with council, to deliver the 2018 Mayoral Fireball event, which will be on Saturday October 27, 7pm at the Manningham Function Centre, Doncaster.

“This year, the Mayoral Fireball will raise funds for the CFA.

“Fundraising plays a critical role in purchasing equipment for our local CFA brigades,” said Cr Conlon.

The local CFA brigades are part of the CFA network covering all of Victoria.

They respond to emergency events, including fires, road crashes, rescue operations, and also provide support in neighbouring brigade areas.

CFA brigades also respond alongside the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) as well as other emergency service organisations.

The brigades from Warrandyte, South Warrandyte, North Warrandyte and Wonga Park have come together and decided that the event will fundraise for a Forward Control Vehicle (FCV) — a four-wheel drive off road vehicle of an appropriate size to operate in the bush.

This is the command and control vehicle, it also operates the perimeter checks and transports strike teams.

It is replacing a 13-year-old vehicle housed at South Warrandyte station and is a volunteer only vehicle.

This ensures that if the staffed vehicles are out fighting fires across the state that our area has a dedicated FCV to manage and strategize local bushfire response.

The optimal setup for this appliance is a 200 Series LandCruiser wagon or twin cab, to carry five people, with V8 twin turbo diesel, snorkel air intake, multi terrain anti-lock braking system, portable UHF CB Radio along with CFA radios, lights, siren and livery.

An FCV would be used in a range of incident management roles including; incident control in a level one fire or incident, Sector Commander, Strike Team Leader, Ground Observer or Staging Area activities for level two or three incidents.

$85K is the target to purchase this vehicle.

Head of the Fireball committee, Julie Quinton, told the Diary that it was everyone’s responsibility to ensure both our own safety and that of the fire fighters who volunteer to protect us.

“We chose to live in these beautiful bushy areas, the very least we can do, as a community, is to ensure our CFA volunteers have the most up-to-date equipment to help keep them safe”, she said.

Mayor Conlon told the Diary that he would urge everyone to get behind the Mayoral Fireball.

“If you can’t attend the event, you can take part in our online auction.

“Sponsorship opportunities are also available for any businesses who want to get involved,” he said.

Cr Conlon said that he hopes the Mayoral Fireball is able to raise both funds and awareness in the community.

“It’s important that everyone has a plan and knows how to respond in an emergency,” said Cr Conlon.

Warrandyte’s bridgeworks and traffic nightmare

Mystery surrounds ongoing delays

EAGLE-EYED READERS will have noticed that not a lot has been happening with the bridge upgrade works over the last few weeks.

Certainly contractors are working on the north side drilling holes for the road barriers, however, nothing seems to have progressed on the bridge structure itself.

The scaffolding and access platforms are all in place on both sides, but there is no sign of any construction of cantilevers or beams.

The closure of the bridge over a full weekend was originally scheduled for March 3–4 but was postponed due to the market and the fun run being on that date.

The following weekend of March 10–12 was not suitable as it was the Labour Day long weekend, and the next weekend of 17–18 was the Warrandyte Festival.

The works were then re-scheduled for March 23–25 but were cancelled at extremely short notice, at 3pm on Friday March 23, because, according to VicRoads, “our contractor, VEC Civil Engineering, has requested more time to prepare to install the beams”.

This last minute cancellation caused disruption to residents and businesses who had put alternative arrangements in place, including cancelling newspaper and grocery deliveries to North Warrandyte and Warrandyte Theatre Company forgoing their matinee performance — it is still unclear why the decision to cancel  the full bridge closure occurred hours before it was meant to start.

Since then, not much has happened, and a complete veil of secrecy has descended on the project.

We visited the site and asked a number of VEC workers what was happening.

We were told, “we’re not allowed to say anything; you’ll have to talk to VicRoads”.

So we asked VicRoads:

• When will the postponed full weekend bridge closure be re-scheduled?

• Have you any dates for later full closures?

• What caused the delay to the originally planned closure?

• When will the whole works be completed?

• What is the schedule for further power outages when your electrical subcontractors need to do further work?

• Do you have any indication of when the traffic lights will be going in on the north side?

Vince Punaro, Regional Director Metro North West, VicRoads told the Diary “At this stage, we have not confirmed any further dates for full closures of the bridge.

“Any lane closures on the bridge will be shared well in advance with the local community and scheduled to minimise inconvenience.”

Cameron Tait, Media Advisor Public Engagement, VicRoads, offered some further information:

“The installation of traffic lights at the Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Road and Research-Warrandyte Road intersection is expected to get underway in July.

“All works on the Warrandyte Bridge upgrade are scheduled to be completed by late 2018.”

The April Information Update Bulletin does not tell us much more than the March bulletin, other than that they will shortly be building a new retaining wall on the north side of the bridge, but it does indicate that the first full weekend closure is likely to be rescheduled for “late April/early May”.

VicRoads Strategic Engagement Advisor, Jacqueline Novoselac, insists that there are no problems, work
is continuing on the bridge and
that the project is not running
behind schedule.

However, the lack of activity on the bridge structure, ongoing postponements of the full closure, and the subtle change of the date for completion, previously September but now “late 2018” would suggest otherwise.

Any further delays might well drive this project into the next bushfire season.

Obviously something is amiss to have caused a two-month slippage of the closure for installation of cantilevers and beams, and we are not being told the reason.

In view of the significant traffic disruption and as public funds are being spent on this project, the public has a right to be kept better informed of progress and reasons for any delays.

The Diary will keep readers informed on any proposed road closures, as and when information comes to hand, either via this publication, the Diary website or social media channels.

Warrandyte road rage

SEVERE SPEED humps to the north of the bridge — an attempt to calm traffic and make a temporary pedestrian crossing safer — are potentially exacerbating traffic congestion as vehicles are forced to slow to a crawl to clear the traffic calming measures installed in early March.

In the busy hours, school and work commuters — on both sides of the bridge — can be delayed by anything up to 30 minutes.

In the morning, queues north of the river stretch back as far as Albert Road on Research-Warrandyte Road and Floods Road on Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Road.

While the evening queues south of the river stretch back as far as the roundabout at Harris Gully Road and to the five-ways Croydon Road junction on Ringwood-Warrandyte Road.

VicRoads vehemently denies that any lengthening of queues is due to the speed humps, and blame any increased queues on the disruption to the Hurstbridge line train service which they say is causing more traffic in the area.

Queues have slackened off considerably in the last fortnight due to the school holidays, but congestion is expected to return to previous levels as of this week.

Additional congestion may also occur on April 18 when the power pole at the RSL is due to be replaced.

The increased queues are causing major headaches for residents on the unsealed roads in North Warrandyte, with many “rat run” drivers ignoring the “No Turn” signs at each end of Blooms Road in an attempt to find a short cut.

Eltham Police have been kept busy booking motorists who ignore these signs but are too busy to attend on a daily basis.

Dingley Dell Road has probably copped the worst of the rat run traffic with motorists from both directions attempting to use this narrow winding street as a shortcut.

But with the morning queues extending further up Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Road, a number of motorists are now turning into Floods Road and cutting through Boyd Street and Hawkes Road.

Michelle Parker from Hawkes Road is now on first name terms with the tow-truck drivers as two cars have already fallen into the ditch near her house, and she dreads the day there may be a head-on collision on the blind corner.

She adds, “You should see the chaos on Monday mornings when the rat run drivers meet the garbage truck!”

Suzanne Reid from Dingley Dell Road tells a similar story.

She and other residents are already upset that the signs preventing turns into Blooms Road make it virtually impossible for her to legally get back to her house before 9:30am after dropping children at school in Research.

She would like a “Residents Excepted” sign to be added to the no turn signs.

Ms Reid goes on to say, “when I finally get back to my home on a Monday morning I can find three cars in my driveway because they have had to pull in to let the garbage truck pass.

“And this is a single-track, unsealed road with ditches at the side and with children and dogs walking on the roadway.

“We have to pay to have this road graded now four times a year”.

Because of these problems Mathew Deayton, Manager, Infrastructure at Nillumbik Council has written to residents of Dingley Dell Road seeking their views on a proposal that the street be closed off completely to through traffic.

The plan involves installing a permanent obstruction at the top of Dingley Dell Road.

This would prevent all traffic — including Dingley Dell residents — from turning into Dingley Dell Road from Blooms Road.

Provision would be made for emergency service vehicles and waste collection vehicles.

The opinion of residents is being sought before any decision is made.

Ms Reid tells us that the idea is well-intentioned but as proposed is completely impractical.

As a number of the homes in the street have no provision for cars to turn around on the property, and angled driveways prevent a U-turn on entry and exit, this idea would require cars to reverse a long way down the difficult hill before they would be able to turn.

Affected residents have until April 20 to fill in a questionnaire or make a submission to council.

C117: Amendment to planning scheme open for submission

MANNINGHAM COUNCIL are currently requesting feedback regarding amendments to the Council’s planning scheme, the amendment is more commonly known as C117.

The amendment to the planning scheme is focused on land in the Rural Conservation Zone (RCZ) which is located predominantly in the Green Wedge.

The RCZ comprises of the undeveloped/rural areas around Warrandyte, South Warrandyte and Wonga Park and extends south to the borders of Donvale and Park Orchards.

Its northern border follows the Yarra River.

Given recent development projects within the Green Wedge have been fought by community groups on both sides of the river and that two of these projects; 2 Pigeon Bank Road and Brumbys Road Development have been “lost” by the developer at VCAT, some would say there is an unwanted culture of development growing within the Green Wedge and any amendments to planning schemes to aid planning applications is bad.

Doug Seymour of the Warrandyte Community Association has already indicated to the Diary that the group are putting together a submission against the proposed amendment.

Jill Colson, Executive manager, People and Governance, spoke to the Diary to clarify what C117 is and how it will impact the RCZ.

“As a Council, our role is to balance competing interests between land use for rural residential living against economic opportunities and employment.

“Known as Amendment C117, these proposed changes include providing an overarching guide on appropriate types of land use and development for the area.

“It also looks at changing an existing local policy relating to outbuildings (such as sheds) and built-form (such as size, scale and location) as well as providing more guidance for non-residential land use in the Rural Conservation Zone.

“At the same time Council is considering a new set of criteria to guide its assessment for changes to the Planning Scheme.

“This would allow consideration of currently prohibited uses where they might be consistent with overall objectives for the area.

“Examples of currently prohibited uses include cellar doors, boutique breweries, farm gates and produce stores, as well as event and function centres,” she said.

Submissions for C117 close on Monday April 16.

The amendment can be viewed online on the Manningham YourSay website, at Manningham City Council or at Warrandyte Library.

If you would like to have your voice heard regarding this amendment, you have until Monday to do so.

The Diary will continue to monitor Amendment C117’s progress and will have an update in coming editions.

 

Planned burns scheduled for March 29 – POSTPONED

UPDATE (28/3 15:24): Planned burns have been postponed due to too much moisture in the soil.

Burns may go ahead on April 3 instead.

 

Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) has scheduled two planned burns near North Warrandyte and Eltham tomorrow, March 29.

There will be a 5.5 hectare burn near Laughing Waters Road and a 15.5 hectare burn near Overbank Road.

FFMVic Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Dan White said: “These burns are an important part of our planned burn program and will reduce fuel loads in the area.

“Smoke may be visible in Eltham, North Warrandyte, Templestowe and Warrandyte.

“We aim to reduce the impact of smoke on communities from planned burning and continue to invest in new technologies and systems to help us better understand the dispersion of smoke.”

Clearning, slashing and planned burns are an important part of managing fuel and reducing the risk of bushfire to communities in bushfire zones.

But, as Mr White explains, weather is an important factor when authorities are preparing for a planned burn.

“We work closely with the Bureau of Meteorology to assess weather conditions – such as humidity, temperature and wind speed — and will only carry out burns when conditions are suitable.

“Until the recent rainfall it had been too dry to conduct these burns,” he said.

If the weather conditions remain favourable, the planned burns will commence around 10am Thursday morning, but if the conditions change the planned burns could be postponed or cancelled.

The Diary will stay across this and provide an update if anything changes.