Tag Archives: Nillumbik Shire Council

Big Build responds to community concerns

FOLLOWING OUR coverage last month regarding community groups’ concerns over Big Build projects, several arms of the Major Transport infrastructure Authority that are overseeing the projects responded collectively to the concerns raised in the Diary.
A spokesperson for Major Transport Infrastructure Authority (MTIA) told the Diary that the projects that incorporate Victoria’s Big Build: North East Link, Hurstbridge Line Duplication, the Fitzsimons Lane Upgrade, Suburban Rail Loop, and the Metro Tunnel, will all help locals get where they need to go safer and sooner, and community engagement always happens before major works begin.

“Our project teams have heard feedback from tens of thousands of local people, which has guided the designs of our projects from the start and led to meaningful improvements including more walking and cycling paths, better accessibility, and significant planting and landscaping.”
“We’ll continue to keep locals updated and seek community feedback as we build the transport infrastructure the north-east needs and deserves.”

Fitzsimons Lane

A statement regarding the Fitzsimons Lane project said there has been extensive engagement during planning and delivery of the Fitzsimons Lanes Upgrade project with over 1,000 pieces of feedback from community and stakeholder meetings, phone calls and written correspondence.
MITA had more than 560 conversations in person and over the phone with community members, more than 700 pieces of written feedback, meetings with the Eltham Community Action Group, and community information sessions.

“There have also been more than 9,000visitstoourprojectwebsite,”the statement said.

MITA’s statement said design changes in response to community feedback, announced in February 2020, have “already enabled the retention of approximately 150 trees and reduced the footprint of the Fitzsimons Lane and Main Road intersection by around 15 per cent while still delivering travel and safety improvements”.
The project changes included the removal of two traffic lanes from the Eltham approach and the removal of dedicated bus queue-jump lanes.
It said further options will continue to be considered as the project progresses.
“Through a series of careful design considerations, based on community feedback, the project will plant thousands more trees than the number that is needed to be removed to deliver this vital road improvement project,” the statement said.
MITA says an additional 6,000 indigenous trees will be planted under a new partnership between Major Road Projects Victoria and Rotary Club of Eltham, “meaning more than six new trees will be planted for every tree removed as part of the project”.
A network of new and upgraded walking and cycling paths will be delivered creating new active transport connections to the wider public transport network.
A major concern of the Eltham Community Action Group was the disregard of the alternative design for the intersection the group put forward during the consultation process.
Major Road Projects Victoria has said it has reviewed all design options, including one put forward by the Eltham Community Action Group to retain the roundabout at the intersection of Main Road and Fitzsimons Lane.
It has engaged multiple leading design consultants to assess this roundabout option, however it was found not to meet the safety and traffic performance requirements.

“The final design will make this critical link significantly better for all motorists, users of the smart bus routes, cyclists and pedestrians for decades to come, as well as improving emergency access and egress.
“The Fitzsimons Lane Upgrade project will continue to work with community to help create the new gateway into Eltham, ensuring the urban design captures the local sense of place,” the statement said.

Hurstbridge Line Duplication

The Hurstbridge Line Duplication received more than 1,000 pieces of feedback from the community from mid-2019 to August 2021, which helped shape the project designs
to have better accessibility and connections for passengers and locals.
Once this project is completed in 2022, around 2kms of track will have been duplicated between Greensborough and Montmorency and around 1.5kms between Diamond Creek and Wattle Glen.

“The investment will deliver two modern stations and will enable more trains, more often, making commuting safer and easier.
“The community’s local knowledge, combined with engineering and urban planning expertise, will ensure we understand local issues and get the best outcomes,” the MITA statement said.

Part of recent community consultation has been around the upgrades to the Eltham train substation where a Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiter (REFCL) is being constructed to protect the train substation from high voltage spikes.
The site upgrade will make it ready for bushfire protection technology, which is being installed on the electricity network.
The community was invited to have their say on the final colour and finish of the retaining wall.
A 50-vehicle carpark is to be built in Wattle Glen, there has been a portal established for feedback on that project at: engage.vic.gov.au/ car-park-upgrades-drouin-nng-ufg-and-yarraman/wattle-glen-station- car-park-planning-approvals- consultation.
Locals can stay up-to-date on further opportunities to have their say on Big Build projects, by visiting bigbuild.vic.gov.au/community.

North East Link

A statement from MITA regarding North East Link said it started talking to the community early and undertook a comprehensive Environment Effects Statement(EES) process.

“More than 15,000 pieces of community feedback over five years has helped to shape the project,” the statement said.
“More than 10,000 people have visited North East Link information sessions and our Watsonia Community Hub, and we’ve had thousands of conversations with local people and businesses.
“Our community liaison and business liaison groups include locals from a range of backgrounds including traders, local residents, sports clubs and schools.
“Locals will continue to help shape the plans for North East Link — we’re working with our preferred bidder to finalise the design for the project, ready to share details with the community and seek their input,” the statement continued.

MITA says a wide range of approaches and tools have been used to encourage public involvement in Big Build projects.
This has included public hearings as part of an EES process, face-to-face engagement, ongoing meetings with councils, online surveys, creation of Community Liaison Groups and Business Liaison Groups, workshops and community information sessions.

“Communities are at the heart of Victoria’s Big Build — we’re working with locals every step of the way as we plan, design and build the major transport projects that will transform travel in the north-east.”

Breaking ground on trail extension

WORKS BEGAN ON Stage 2 of the Diamond Creek Trail extension following a ground-breaking ceremony on February 6.
Stage 2 of the trail extension will link Wattle Glen to Hurstbridge.
Once the Diamond Creek Trail is fully extended to Hurstbridge, the 5.5-kilometre trail extension will complete a 55-kilometre continuous trail from Hurstbridge to the CBD, incorporating the Main Yarra Trail from Eltham Lower Park.
The trail extension is primarily funded by the Victorian Government with $4M for Stage 1 through VicRoads’ Towards Zero initiative and Stage 2 utilising $5.1M from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning’s (DELWP) Suburban Parks Program.
Nillumbik Shire Council also contributed approximately $5M to the project through land acquisition for the 14.4 hectares of land the trail is built on.
Once completed, the trail extension will have a concrete-paved path for pedestrians and cyclists and a separate, parallel natural-surface trail for horse riders.
In attendance at the ground-breaking were members of the community, Nillumbik Shire councillors, Member for Eltham Vicky Ward, Member for Yan Yean Danielle Green, and Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio.
Nillumbik Shire Mayor, Peter Perkins commended the efforts of all those involved in the trail project.

“That the Diamond Creek Trail project is now well on the way to completion is a great result for our community and a credit to the efforts of others on their behalf – including the Victorian Government, Danielle Green MP the Member for Yan Yean, and Vicki Ward MP the Member for Eltham.
“Our community, in particular the efforts of our Regional Trails Advisory Group and Trailblazers Inc. are also to be commended.
“Their tireless advocacy and passion for this project has been integral to bringing us to where we are today.
“The trail is an important community asset, providing a fantastic outlet for physical activity and a safe transport connection between the urban parts of the Shire and our rural townships.
“Also critical, is that it will attract more visitors to our Shire, boosting our local tourism industry and other businesses,” he said.

Bunjil Ward Councillor Karen Egan said the commencement of Stage 2 works was a major development for not only the townships, but the Shire’s rural community.

“I’m very pleased that work is starting on the final stage of an infrastructure project that is of such critical importance to many sectors of our community, being a shared trail open to all,” said Cr Egan.

Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio spoke about the benefits to the local economy and the improved quality of life the trail will bring to the area.

“In the past year, many of us have rediscovered the simple pleasure of going for a walk, run or bike ride.
“Through projects like the Diamond Creek Trail extension, we’re giving people more opportunities to enjoy the outdoors.
“Construction of the trail extension will create as many as 100 jobs over 12 months and boost the local economy by attracting visitors to the trail and surrounding communities.”

Stage 1 of the trail extension, linking Diamond Creek to Wattle Glen is due to be completed and opened to the public in October 2021.

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Market under threat

THE ELTHAM Craft and Produce Market has been a staple of the Eltham community for 44 years but its future is now under threat.
Founded in 1978 along the driveway of the Living and Learning Centre on Main Road, the Eltham Craft and Produce Market has served as an outlet for locally and homemade crafts and produce.
I remember going to the market as a young boy, buying heat packs at the start of every winter with my parents and sister.
We would walk from home to the market and as you entered Alistair Knox Park, the aromas of the food trucks would draw you in.
Soon, aromas mixed with music, conversation and laughter — the sound of a happy and connected community.
These are memories that I hold dear to my heart, and now, it may all come to an end.
On Sunday, February 21, 2021, possibly the last Eltham Craft and Produce Market took place.
Following conversations with the Market organisers Bianca and Di, and Wingrove Ward Councillor, Geoff Paine, I learned the market is under threat of discontinuing due to the complicated process of obtaining licenses and the grounds to continue hosting the market.
The main issue revolves around having a committee properly in place and obtaining a permit to use the area behind Eltham Library.
The market has been using the location between Panther Place and Library Place since October of 2004, an area with great parking and easy accessibility for anyone to visit.
Both stall holders and market goers expressed their sadness over the potential discontinuation of the market and its end will have a long-lasting impact in the Eltham community.
Market organisers are asking Eltham residents and market goers to lobby the local community and market regulars to let Nillumbik Shire Council know that they want the market to stay.
The Warrandyte Diary and WD Bulletin will have further updates on this story as it develops.

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Price of progress

Eltham residents have come out of lockdown to discover that hundreds of trees that graced the Eltham Gateway roundabout have been removed.
Under cover of COVID, Major Roads Projects Victoria (MRPV) moved in on February 15 to clearfell the intersection of Main Road and Fitzsimons Lane, and then removed the large Lemon Scented Gums from the Porter Street intersection on February 16.
Resident Vicky Shukuroglou described the scene as residents who had left their home for the four reasons and came across the Main Road demolition site.

“People started pulling over and parking their cars and were in shock, complete shock,” she said.

Consultation deficit

Community groups are outraged that there had not been extensive community consultation around the project, with many residents unaware of the impending works until Eltham Community Action Group placed red ribbons around the doomed trees in early 2020.
MRPV said they had 300 responses to their community consultation, but admitted to ECAG that less than 100 of them had come from Eltham residents.
In contrast ECAG had received over 3,000 signatures from locals on its petition.
ECAG have spent around two years negotiating with MRPV to compromise on the project to retain the treed gateway intersection.
Secretary of ECAG, Sue Dyet, said the group had first been made aware of the plans when they were told by local member Vicky Ward some months after the plans were put out for consultation.

“She showed us some plans and we went away looking at them and the enormity of the situation sunk in.”

The group managed to hold some meetings with MRPV but, Ms Dyet said the group feel they have been “managed”.

“They listened to us, they gave us time, but when we asked particular questions, and asked for information it was not always forthcoming,” she said.

Nillumbik Council passed a resolution in December 2020 to request MRPV conduct further community consultation, but this did not occur.
Ms Shukuroglou had organised a protest rally for February 13, which had to be cancelled due to the COVID lockdown.
However, the lockdown did not deter the construction workers who brought out the chainsaws, which was seen as a massive slap in the face to the community.

“Even it had been planned for six months, it was in bad taste,” said Ms Dyet.

Major Road Projects Victoria Program Director Dipal Sorathian defended the works occurring during lockdown.

“This project is essential work, like many other projects that have commenced and continued through various stages of COVID-19 restrictions over the past year,” he said.

Overkill

The project will see the intersection widened substantially, with eight lanes (four lanes each way) on the Main Road, eight lanes on Lower Plenty Road and eleven lanes in total on Fitzsimons Lane.
Although Mayor of Nillumbik, Peter Perkins notes that this was reduced from the original plans.

“Council has advocated on behalf of the community since the announcement of this project.
“These efforts have helped to influence MRPV to revise its design, including the reduction of the proposed intersection from 11 to eight lanes, saving more than 200 trees along the corridor.
“Fitzsimons Lane is a key gateway to the Shire and is of significant aesthetic, environmental and economic value to the community.
“Council supports the government’s efforts to minimise traffic congestion while at all times seeking to ensure that the community’s voice is heard and appropriately acted upon,” said Cr Perkins.

Ms Shukuroglou said that with the massive changes in the way people are working and moving around the city the plan should have been reconsidered.
She said the project also does not take the road use changes projected by the North East Link.

“MRPV made their case by using figures that were not really all that accurate, because their traffic modelling and numbers were based on 2027, and then 2028 is estimated for the NEL opening, which suggests traffic will drop by quite a large percentage.
“Then we also need to contemplate there is also a current ban on immigration and the trend of working from home, and that it most likely to be the thing that remains.
“Once the pandemic is abated, people will start getting back on the trains and will be working from home — these things have not been taken into account,” she said.

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Photos: VICKY SHUKUROGLOU

Alternatives ignored

Ms Shukuroglou  went on to say: “We realised as a bunch of volunteers on community planning issues we needed to get hold of some people who knew more about this game than we did.

“So we subsequently got three experts in the field, one a retired VicRoads person, one transport manager from AECOM in London, a huge international firm, and more recently someone who is an expert on roundabouts.

The group had their experts draw up alternative plans in attempt to reduce the footprint of the works and to retain the roundabout, and therefore the trees, but despite being told their plans were as affective as the official plans they would not be considered.
Mr Sorathia told WD Bulletin as part of the development process, “a number of designs options were investigated”, and he said it was found that upgrading to a signalised intersection was the best option to make the road safer and less congested.

“Compared to signals, a roundabout solution will be less safe, increase congestion and travel times, and will not alleviate the traffic queues,” he said.

Objectors to the roadworks were resigned to the fact that the project would go ahead no matter what their objections, but Ms Dyet said she felt that MRPV played lip-service to community consultation.

“I would say that they feel that they ticked all the boxes,” she said.

Enough is enough

Ms Shukuroglou said MRPV has been asking the wrong questions.

“They went in and said, ‘well there is a traffic problem how are we going to solve the traffic problem’.
“As opposed to ‘there is a traffic problem, how can we solve this while respecting the community, the area, and all the values that are within this place’,” she said.

She said she wants to see a dynamic change in how major projects such as this are managed.

“It seems to us very clearly, is the greatest needs of society, which is social and environmental health, which are not just boxes to be ticked and they ought to underpin all decisions, and infrastructure ought to serve purposes in response to these things,” said Ms Shukologlou.
“It starts creeping inwards, it is the thin edge of the wedge, this is where we can slowly chip away and say ‘now that road is there, we are going to have to do this duplication, we are going to have to add extra roads’.
“At what point do we say, ‘actually, enough is enough’?”

She said the community has learnt from this “absolutely horrendous” process and the “devastating” outcome.

“The one thing we need to do is maintain hope for what we can achieve for anything that is happening in the future.
“There are a lot of demoralised, tired people, there are people who feel like they have there is no point in attempting to have a go.
“But that, in all sorts of ways, the system is working in that way.
“It would be much easier if we all sat down and said nothing, there would be a lot less hiccups, work could be done a lot more efficiently.
“But we are not just going to sit down and accept this — we will organise the protest again to say, this must change, this is not an appropriate example of community consultation.
“This is not a good example of how things must be.”

Replanting plan

“We have heard from the local community that they appreciate the natural environment, which is why we are planting more trees than we remove on the Fitzsimons Lane Upgrade,” said Mr Sorathian.

Local member Vicky Ward has announced that 5,000 trees will be planted around Eltham to offset the trees that have been removed.
In a statement, she said approximately six new trees will be planted for every tree removed as part of the project.
This calculation makes the tally of trees lost at approximately 830.

“This program will leave an important legacy that all participants and the wider community will enjoy for years to come,” she said.

Ms Ward’s announcement stated local secondary school students will also be involved in a propagating project to create a new supply of native plants and trees, which will be planted and grown in the local area.
However, Ms Shoukoglou said even 5,000 trees, will not replace what has been lost.

“One of the main issues is there are very few hollow bearing trees left, and it is a serious problem.
“So planting a one-year-old, or five-year-old tree is nothing like it.
“Even if you have 5,000 of them, it is nothing like one mature tree that has lived for 50, 60, 100, 200 years.
“You are never going to regain that,” she said.

Cr Perkins said Council and the community lament the recent destruction of so many trees at this key gateway.

“We look forward to the completion of the project when the benefits will be realised and landscaping completed,” he said.

Display of grief

On Saturday, 20 February, locals gathered for a demonstration at the intersection, gathering in small groups to place “letters of love and loss”.
Ms Shukuroglou told WD Bulletin due to COVID restrictions the community was unable to protest in the traditional sense.
To ensure the event was conducted safely the organisers opted for a multi-site staged gathering over the course of the day.

“It was an independent demonstration, a COVID-safe solution, and an opportunity for people to express their grief, which is immense and rippling through the community”.

She said people came on their own mournful walk, delivered letters, had conversations, and shared their feelings of dismay, anxiety, shock.

“People’s worlds have been rocked — how can that be allowed in our system which is touted as fair?
“Others said their anxiety is through the roof… so much more,” she said.

What now for the future?

Protest organisers are asking concerned citizens to visit their website, to send messages, and keep updated on future actions.
elthamroundabout.wixsite.com/my-site
The WD Bulletin and Warrandyte Diary will continue to follow this developing story.

 

Feedback wanted on Nillumbik Draft Housing Strategy

Nillumbik Shire Council has released a Draft Housing Strategy which will help shape how Council responds to housing needs across the Shire for the next 15 years.
Nillumbik Mayor Karen Egan said the draft strategy aims to ensure the housing needs of the Shire can be met now and into the future.
The draft notes:

“Nillumbik is predicted to be the lowest growth municipality in metropolitan Melbourne, both in terms of the proportion of growth and absolute numbers, with 0.4 per cent annual population growth (6,140 additional people between 2016 and 2036).
This compares to a city-wide average annual growth rate of 1.6 per cent.
The Nillumbik community is ageing.
By 2036 Nillumbik will have a significant proportion of one and two person households, comprising mainly empty nesters and retirees.
In particular Nillumbik will have significantly more people aged over 70 than is the case today.”

Nillumbik Mayor Karen Egan said this strategy aims to ensure Nillumbik’s housing needs are met now and in the future.

“This strategy outlines a range of housing for all of our residents, including our ageing population and those with special needs.
“But, importantly, it also seeks to protect the Shire’s valued rural and neighbourhood characteristics and unique green wedge for future generations.
“Significant consolidation of housing is only proposed in the Eltham and Diamond Creek Major Activity Centres, where Council is expected, by State Government policy, to consolidate housing due to the easy, walkable access in these centres to shops, public transport and services.
“I encourage the community to provide feedback on this critical strategy,” Cr Egan said.

The Draft Housing Strategy is seeking feedback from residents and those with a vested interest in the Shire between now and June 29.
A copy of the draft document along with additional information is available via Council’s participate website.
Council is also holding a series of online Q&A sessions, where registered participants can discuss their questions/concerns with council officers.
These sessions are limited to 10 participants per session (excluding council officers) and are currently scheduled for the following dates:

11am, Wednesday, June 17.
2:30pm, Friday, June 19.
7pm, Tuesday, June 23.
1pm, Wednesday, June 24.

Those wishing to participate in the sessions, or supply feedback to the Draft Housing Strategy should visit: participate.nillumbik.vic.gov.au/draft-housing-strategy

Council services impacted by COVID-19

WITH COVID-19 causing many disruptions to daily life, as we all try to “flatten the curve”, local councils still need to provide important services to the community, albeit at arm’s length.

As the doors closed to visitors at Council run facilities, the Diary asked Manningham and Nillumbik for details of how residents continue to interact with them during these restrictions.

Manningham City Council  

Manningham Council CEO Andrew Day said Council has modified operations to continue to provide core services to the community.

“Local government provides many important services and we understand we have a critical role to play in supporting our community at this time.”

He says Council is doing its part to contain the spread of the virus and reduce the risk to the health of the community, including the implementation of crisis management planning, in collaboration with the Victorian Government.

“Our management team is also meeting daily to direct and monitor our response to the situation as it unfolds, and for future planning.”

Mr Day said Council is continuing to provide as many services to the community as possible.

“To do this safely we are continually adapting our service delivery models and following the advice of the Department of Health and Human Services at all times,” Mr Day said.

For example, he said services like Maternal and Child Health visits are now being conducted over the phone or via video link and essential services for our elderly community, like Meals on Wheels, will continue to run with even stricter safe food handling standards.

“Since mid-March, there have been many impacts to Council events, facilities and services and we understand these impacts are being felt deeply by our community.

“At this time we ask that the community stay safe, practice appropriate social distancing, particularly in Manningham’s beautiful open spaces”

Mr Day urged residents to stay connected with family and friends via phone, email, video link or social media.

“We are all in this together, as a community we will support one another, and as a Council we will do what it takes to look after those who are most vulnerable at this time.”

For the most up to date information about COVID-19 and its impacts to Council services, events and facilities please visit:
manningham.vic.gov.au/coronavirus 

Customer service centres closed

To help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the community Council’s customer service centres have closed until further notice.

This change was made following further restrictions on non-essential services and the government advice for the community to stay at home where possible.

Council rates, fees and charges 

Mr Day said Manningham Council is acutely aware of the devastating financial impacts the COVID-19 situation is having on the community.

In response, Council is considering a range of options to assist residents and community members during this difficult time.

He said more information will be made available as details are finalised.

“For those in our community who are already impacted, please contact Council to discuss hardship options,” he said.

Customers can contact Council via:

Website:

manningham.vic.gov.au

Email:

manningham@manningham.vic.gov.au 

Phone: 9840 9333

Nillumbik Shire Council

Nillumbik Communications Officer Natalie Town said Nillumbik Shire Council has closed its Customer Service Counter at the Civic Drive offices in Greensborough.

She told the Diary most Council staff are working from home where possible, and while some services have been significantly impacted, it is business as usual for many departments.

Most Council services can be conducted online including payments for pet registrations, rates, parking fines and other infringements.

If residents are experiencing hardship, they should call the rates team on 9433 3285.

If you are having technical trouble making an online payment, call Customer Service on 9433 3111 and they can talk you through the process or provide other information.

Mayor Karen Egan said the health and wellbeing of the community and Council staff was a priority.

“Council is committed to reducing the risk of the coronavirus spreading and we appreciate your patience during this difficult time.

“We urge residents to stay home and follow the recommendations of the State and Federal Governments.

“At the same time, we encourage you to look out for your neighbours, and others in the community, who are struggling.

“We will continue to monitor and update you as the situation changes over coming days and weeks,” she said.

Essential Council services are continuing, and these include:

  • Kerbside landfill, recycling and
    green waste collections as well
    as booked kerbside hard waste
    collections.
  • Food delivery services for older
    and vulnerable residents.
  • Critical Maternal and Child Health
    visits.
  • Essential call out services.

Council’s Economic Development team are offering support for local businesses.

Council’s Visit Nillumbik Facebook page @visitnillumbik is getting behind Nillumbik businesses with a Stay Home, Shop Local campaign.

Customers can contact Council via:

Website: nillumbik.vic.gov.au

Phone: 9433 3111

Swimming pool and spa registrations 

The Victorian Government has not currently advised councils of any changes to the time frame for the requirement to register swimming pools and spas.

Local Councils roll out governance updates

By JAMES POYNER

MARCH 24 was a big day for Local Government.

As well as the finalisation of a new Local Government Act, local councils also debated measures to enable them to be able to effectively govern as the threat of a worsening pandemic continues to dominate our news feeds.

An updated Local Government Act became law on March 24, 2020.

The Act provides the necessary legislative framework to enable local councils to perform their task of administering their municipality.

The Act replaces the Local Government Act 1989 and over the next 16 months, the Divisions of The Act 2020 will gradually replace The Act 1989.

It has been a long five years waiting for the updated Act to come into effect, the Local Government Bill 2018 fell at the last furlong in November 2018, when it lapsed after the Legislative Council failed to pass the bill.

The Local Government Act 2020 includes six key reforms in the areas of simplified franchise, standardising, electoral structure, training, donation reform, improved conduct and community accountability.

In July 2019, councils across Victoria were submitting responses to these areas of reform with many councils requesting The Act does not require all councils to operate as single member wards.

The proposal was generally rejected by most councils, even councils which already operated with a single member ward structure were not overly supportive of the move to simplify the electoral structure.

In their submission to the Local Government Bill 2019 in July 2019, Nillumbik Shire Council wrote:

“Given that Council already operates under a single member ward structure, the impact on Council as a result of this proposed reform will be minimal.

Council however recognises the diverse nature of councils across the state and that a single ward structure may not be appropriate in all instances.

Council would therefore advocate for the electoral structure for each Council be considered on its merits and not on a one structure for all basis.”

To the relief of many municipalities, the Legislative Council passed an amendment to The Act, which allows for a mixed system of single and multi-member representation.

The Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) has also been watching and waiting for a determination on whether the October 2020 Local Elections will be Postal or Attendance voting.

The Act specifies that the voting system to be used will be determined by the Minister for Local Government and that the Minister must make a decision on the system to be used within two months of that part of The Act coming into effect.

Documentation outlining the transition from The Act 1989 to The Act 2020 indicates this section comes into effect on April 6, 2020, which means Victorians will know how they can vote in the October 2020 local elections by no later than June 6, 2020.

However, it is worth noting — given our current situation — that the Minister has the power to change the date of an election under circumstances such as the declaration of a State of Emergency.

Council’s preparing for the worst

Manningham and Nillumbik Councils also passed motions to expand the Instrument of Delegation at the March 24 Ordinary Council Meeting.

The Instrument of Delegation means the CEO and other Officers can delegate on their behalf.

The responsibility was expanded as Councillors were concerned the current health situation may result in a scenario where not enough Councillors can attend a meeting to form a quorum.

Presently, there is no policy in place to allow councillors to conduct council meetings using teleconferencing software, which means they need to be physically present, a situation which may become difficult if social distancing restrictions become more severe.

While the vote was very cut-and-dry at Manningham, in Nillumbik, there was fierce debate with opposing councillors arguing they should be discussing supporting an initiative by the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV), which is calling on State Government to give councils the legislative capability to be able to hold Council Meetings online, with Councillor Perkins standing against Councillor Clarke to argue that this is what they should be discussing.

In a statement from MAV, Cr Coral Ross, MAV President and councillor for Boorondara, said:

“Inflexible council meeting requirements under state legislation are a significant concern for local governments across the country as many council chambers do not allow for appropriate social distancing.

“This is an unprecedented situation which requires collaboration and innovative thinking.

“We have been proactively working alongside the Victorian Government to provide solutions which will ensure the health and safety of councillors, council staff and the community.

“With streaming and virtual meetings now widely available, we call on the Minister for Local Government Adem Somyurek and the State Government to make this common sense decision and enable one of these options to be implemented as alternative to meeting face to face.”

Efficient operation by Local Government in the coming months will be integral to keeping a semblance of normality to the bureaucracy of everyday life.

The Diary will continue to report on the actions of local councils and the efforts of MAV to enable them to do their job in this climate of increasing restrictions.

 

Nillumbik adopts Green Wedge Plan

FOLLOWING extensive community consultation, Nillumbik Shire Council adopted its Green Wedge Management Plan (GWMP) at the Council meeting on November 26 by four votes to three, but not without controversy as the meeting was interrupted by a group of eight protesters.
The new plan will provide direction for the management of the Green Wedge over the next decade.
It includes a vision, principles, goals, objectives and key actions and has been informed by extensive community engagement over the past 18 months, including an independent panel to provide recommendations to Council.
Council received 746 submissions in response to the draft GWMP during the six-week community consultation period in July and August and their Future Nillumbik Committee also heard 80 verbal submissions in September.
The plan was further revised in response to the feedback received from the community.
Nillumbik Mayor Karen Egan said Council appreciated the feedback and had listened to what the community had to say.
“While there have been divergent views on how the Green Wedge should be managed, one thing is clear — our community is passionate about this unique landscape in which we live, work and visit,” Cr Egan said.
Nillumbik’s Green Wedge is one of 12 across Melbourne and covers 91 per cent of the Shire.
Land uses include conservation, agriculture, rural living and tourism.
Now that the GWMP has been adopted, annual implementation plans will be prepared.
Max Parsons of the Nillumbik Proactive Landowners Group (PALs) told the Diary “PALs fully supports the new GWMP as adopted at the Council meeting on November 26.
“ The new GWMP provides a comprehensive strategy for the future of the Green Wedge that represents an appropriate balance of all the factors that contribute to living in the landscape.
“Acknowledgement of the role that landowners play in a successful green wedge has been long overdue and was sadly lacking in the previous plan.
“This has been achieved whilst simultaneously balancing the importance of biodiversity and significant important vegetation with a landowners’ right to live and thrive within the same green wedge.”
Don Macrae from the Wedge Tales blog — which is sponsored by the Warrandyte Community Association, the Friends of Nillumbik and the Green Wedge Protection Group tells us that “the most positive outcome of the entire program has been community involvement in the plan” and gives it tacit approval but awards no cigar.
“To spend in the vicinity of $500,000 on this project was outrageous.”
Following up with Mr Macrae, he has confirmed this figure is a “conservative” educated guess based on Council approving consultation fees of $345,000 in 2017 and factoring in the costs of running the community panel.
A spokesperson for the protestors told us “Council disregarded the results of their own community consultation process, wasting over $300,000 of ratepayers’ money.”
We reproduce Green Wedge Plan Adopted by Council, no cigar by Don Macrae — which has been edited for print publication and an account from the Green Wedge protest group in attendance at the November 26 council meeting.

Council’s Green Wedge Plan falls short of community expectations

By DON MACRAE
WEDGE TALES BLOG
AMID SCENES of protest, at its November meeting Nillumbik Council “adopted” a new Green Wedge Management Plan (GWMP).
The gallery was packed and the Council divided, but the motion to “adopt” the GWMP was passed along the now familiar 4–3 lines.
Nillumbik’s first GWMP was adopted in 2010 and was intended to serve as a basis until 2025.
For reasons never explained the current Nillumbik Council decided to prepare a replacement, which after a year-long project has now been formally adopted by Council.
This new GWMP shifts focus away from the natural environment and towards the expectations of resident landowners, as expressed in the phrase “Living in the Landscape”, the title of the current Council Plan.
The best that can be said about it is that it is unlikely to do much harm.
It is a document of only 26 pages which is more like notes towards a plan rather than an actual plan.
As a pamphlet or discussion document it is better than the published draft, but it is insubstantial.
A reference to “buffer zones”, a concept that featured in the draft, designed to allow more subdivision in the vicinity of the urban growth boundary and which attracted massive community criticism, has been removed — a distinct improvement.
But, the idea that some areas of the Shire zoned Rural Conservation should be rezoned remains, although it really does not look like becoming a serious proposal.
The document suggests that there is “land dotted throughout the RCZ that is already cleared for agriculture”,  and which should be rezoned Green Wedge Zone (GWZ) so that land owners can engage in agriculture without getting a permit.
To create a rezoning proposal would require significant effort but there does not appear to be any intention to embark on such a project.
Furthermore, if the intention is to allow agriculture to proceed on suitable land it is entirely within the Council’s control to expedite permit assessments.
Sustaining agriculture on agricultural land in green wedges is a challenging issue, but this rezoning idea probably has more to do with satisfying the “less regulation” constituency than with promoting agriculture.
The Green Wedge townships are important elements in the Shire and need to work as attractive gateways to the Green Wedge for visitors as well as providing amenity for residents.
The GWMP recognises also that [the townships] will need to be the focus of additional ageing-in-place facilities for Shire residents, as well as for increasing population.
The State Government mandates that green wedge councils must  prepare a Green Wedge Management Plan.
But this GWMP appears to have been planned as a public relations exercise.
The focus of the project was a community consultation program culminating in a “Community Panel”, which made recommendations to Council.
Then came the publication of a draft and the hearing of community submissions on the draft.
The total cost of the project has not been made public, but if all internal costs as well as consultant charges are included it is probably approaching $500,000.
As was pointed out in several of the submissions on the draft, the State Government’s Planning Practice Note 31: Preparing a Green Wedge Management Plan was not followed, contrary to Cr Clarke’s claim at the council meeting.
No Steering Committee was established and no formal collaboration with relevant bodies was embraced.
Management of the program appears to have been overseen by an external consultant without a planning background, and in the face of the loss of long term Council planning staff.
One clear outcome of the community consultation program was to confirm that the Shire overwhelmingly values the environment and in principle supports the planning scheme.
Only a very few survey respondents complained of too much regulation, so it was surprising that the draft GWMP  contained significant elements which did not respect this.
The adopted GWMP is less offensive.
But, at the conclusion of the project, what have we got for all that expense and effort?
This has been a council intent on change.
Its cavalier treatment of two development applications in 2017 and its apparent attack on its own organisation makes this plain.
It is believed that council staff turnover in 2017/18 exceeded 25 per cent, and eventually included all Senior Managers.
To replace the substantial, previous GWMP with this brief document has the appearance of a political act.
The most positive outcome of the entire program has been community involvement.
There were 688 responses to an online survey and 181 people attended community workshops.
There was a total of 746 submissions in response to the draft, mostly critical.
Many Shire residents have an increased understanding of how our Green Wedge works.
But to spend in the vicinity of $500,000 on this project was outrageous.

Environment protesters disrupt Council meeting

By HANNAH GRAHAM
AT THE NILLUMBIK Council meeting on November 26, a group of eight protesters interrupted Councillors before they voted to pass their draft Green Wedge Management Plan (GWMP).
Eight people, dressed in cloaks eco-printed with local native plants, walked into the meeting when the Green Wedge Management Plan agenda item was announced.
They broke into song; singing about saving the Green Wedge, and asking why the majority of the community were ignored during the consultation process in regards to this plan’s review.
Both Mayor Karen Egan and Cr Jane Ashton promptly left the room when the protesters walked in.
There was both support and disapproval amongst the audience in the gallery.
Some joined in on the singing, as lyric sheets seem to have been circulated.
The protesters then silently turned their backs on the councillors whilst standing in a line.
They wore signs on their backs which read, “Don’t turn your back on community”.
Signs on their front read , “$300k+ Community Consultation”, “Community Panel Ignored”, “80% of Submissions Ignored”, “You speak for us not just your pals”, “Next Election: October 2020”.
After standing for a couple minutes, the protesters were warned to leave the room by Mayor Karen Egan — who had since returned.
An agitated man in the gallery attempted to shove protesters apart and the protesters proceeded to walk out of the gallery in silent procession.
One of the protesters had this to say about the disruption.
“We don’t want to upset the peace by going against the council meeting process, but we feel that the councillors have left us no other choice.
“They disregarded the results of their own community consultation process, wasting over $300,000 of ratepayers’ money.
“The majority of the community objected to the draft plan which seemed intent on looking at the Green Wedge as capital for a minority of private landholders, rather than vital native habitat, and a carbon sink.
“At this time of mass extinction and an unsafe climate the revised Green Wedge Management Plan was an opportunity for Council to prioritise the environment for the safety of all Victorians.
“That’s what the community wanted, but they ignored us.
“We disrupted the councillors in this way because we knew they couldn’t ignore us”.

Every which way you turn

CALLS HAVE resumed for VicRoads to solve the dangerous intersection at Five Ways, where Croydon Road, Brumbys Road and Husseys Lane intersect with Ringwood-Warrandyte Road.
An online petition has gathered more than 1000 signatures after recently being returned to circulation.
It is calling for improved traffic controls at the intersection.
The petition was initiated two years ago and has recently resurfaced on Facebook where it has generated a lot of discussion.
Petitioner Renny Koerner-Brown told the Diary she was prompted to start the petition following several near misses with cars mistakenly turning into Brumbys Road “only to have them do an abrupt u-turn” in front of her “leaving me out in a horrendous intersection in on-coming traffic”.
Mary-Anne Lowe is a resident on Ringwood-Warrandyte Road, and says every day she navigates the intersection pulling a horse float.
She spoke with the Diary about the issues she has encountered.
“It is a daily occurrence to witness blaring horns, near misses and unfortunately I have also witnessed an accident with a horse float in the last two years,” Ms Lowe said.
She says traffic from all directions need a smoother transition and clearer instruction to make it safer for all road users.
Another South Warrandyte resident, Kim Dixon, said she has been sending letters to VicRoads for years about the intersection.
She says that the confusion at the intersection itself is only part of the problem.
“I reside in Colman Road and the traffic we get coming down our street, to avoid this intersection, is horrendous.
“[Colman Road] is not designed to take traffic travelling in both directions, it is extremely narrow and there are a number of places in which cars cannot safely pass each other,” Ms Dixon said.
She said that as a result of her ongoing complaints, around eight years ago Maroondah Council installed speed humps in their section of roadway and Manningham Council have also recently installed four speed humps.
“Unfortunately, these devices have not deterred the amount of traffic that use this road to avoid the intersection,” Ms Dixon said.
“In all my correspondence [to VicRoads] I have stated that the issue in Colman Road is a direct consequence of the dangerous intersection at Croydon Road and [Ringwood-]Warrandyte Road — I get the same reply, “this intersection is not our priority”.
Leigh Harrison, Director City Services for Manningham Council said Manningham Council is aware of congestion issues and safety concerns along Ringwood-Warrandyte Road and would support an upgrade of this intersection.
“The intersection is an important connection for local roads connecting to Ringwood-Warrandyte Road, including Brumbys Road which is a no-through road.
“While VicRoads is responsible for any upgrade works, options that could be considered include a roundabout or new traffic signals,” he said.
State Member for Warrandyte, Ryan Smith, said he has been asking the Government for several years about the intersection, but he says the response he has received has been disappointing.
“I have raised the very real concerns from local residents about this dangerous intersection on a number of occasions, but these concerns have fallen on the Government’s deaf ears.
“I would hate to think that a tragedy has to occur before we see any action from the Andrews Government.
“Fix the problem now so we can avoid the kind of fatal accident that many locals believe is an inevitability,” Mr Smith said.
Mr Smith showed the Diary a series of correspondence he has had with various Roads Ministers, during his last foray into the issue in March 2017.
Back then, he was advised: “VicRoads has been monitoring the safety record at the intersection of Ringwood-Warrandyte Road, Croydon Road and Husseys Lane in Warrandyte South.
“There has been no reported injury crash at the intersection in the most recent five-year period.
“The average two-way daily traffic volume on Ringwood-Warrandyte Road has increased from 5,700 vehicles per day in 2015 to 5,800 in 2017.
“The configuration of the intersection is in accordance with relevant guidelines and is similar to many other intersections across Melbourne.
“Based on the safety record and in inspection of the site, VicRoads considered the intersection to be operating safely for all road users.
“VicRoads will continue to monitor the road safety at this location to determine the need for any future improvements.”
Member for North East Metropolitan, Sonja Terpstra told the Diary she had not had any contact from constituents regarding this intersection, but that she would follow the issue up with the Roads Minister.
The Diary contacted VicRoads for comment and a Department of Transport spokesperson said that they receive many requests each year for safety improvements and upgrades to intersections, including new traffic lights, from across Victoria, and that all requests are prioritised based on the extent to which such a treatment would improve safety and/or congestion at each intersection.
The unnamed spokesperson said that VicRoads consider a range of factors such as the number and type of vehicles using the intersection, the need to cater for pedestrians, the historical safety record of the site and the impact the improvements would have on the surrounding road network.
“The safety of everyone travelling on our roads is our number one priority, and we’re continually looking at ways we can make it safer and easier for people to use our road network.
“We’ll continue to monitor this intersection to see if there’s any safety improvements we can make,” the Department of Transport spokesperson said.

 

Community’s development dread at Eltham gateway

By JAMES POYNER

THE ROUNDABOUT at Fitzsimons Lane/Main Road on the Eltham—Templestowe border has become the focal point of a conflict between green-minded conservation groups in the latest infrastructure development from the State’s Major Roads Project team.
As part of the $2.2million Northern and South Eastern Roads Upgrade, the roundabout, which marks the gateway to the Green Wedge from Templestowe, is planned to be developed into an 11 lane intersection, in an effort to reduce congestion and improve safety.
In background supplied by Major Roads Project Victoria (MRPV), the agency stated the upgrade would “benefit more than 60,000 people who use the busy road every day.”
“Unfortunately, some tree and vegetation removal will be necessary to carry out the upgrade.
“However, Major Road Projects Victoria will plant new vegetation where there is available land within the project boundary and manage landscape and vegetation loss in accordance with statutory obligations.
“Design revisions to date have been able to save more than 100 trees in the vicinity of the project, and any options to minimise the removal of trees will continue to be considered.”
If you have not seen Eltham Community Action Group’s campaign against the development of this intersection on social media, you may have noticed the red ribbons tied around trees on and around the Fitzsimons/Main Road roundabout.
These are the trees currently marked for removal.
Nillumbik Council issued a press release on October 22 stating their disapproval of the upgrade in the face of opposition from residents and community groups with ties to the Shire.
“While Council recognises that congestion is a significant issue at the intersection and supports State Government efforts to improve this issue, Council does not support the planning process to deliver this project”.
In their last Community Update in April 2019, MRPV indicated construction would begin in 2020.
The Diary asked MRPV if there was any room for additional discussion and design changes to the project between now and 2020, to prevent the destruction of trees at the roundabout.
A spokesperson from MRPV responded:
“The Fitzsimons Lane upgrade will improve congestion, making it easier and safer for the community to travel through and around the area.
“We recognise that the greenery surrounding the Eltham Gateway is a key feature of Nillumbik’s unique landscape and we’re committed to minimising this project’s impact on the environment.
“We’ll continue to keep the community up to date as the planning stage progresses.
“We will consult with the community throughout the life of the project, ensuring that we continue to hear and consider their feedback on this important project,” they said.
MRPV has told the Diary it will be releasing revised designs — which save more than 100 trees in the vicinity — in the coming weeks.

 

What goes around comes around

THE REUSE SHOP at Nillumbik’s Recycling and Recovery Centre in Plenty reopened on October 25.
In an effort to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill, the shop takes items delivered to the Recovery Centre that cannot be recycled, but are in good condition, and prepares them for sale on site.
In August 2018, the shop had to close while the intersection between the Recovery Centre and Yan Yean Road took place as part of the State Government’s Major Roads project.
With works now complete, the ReUse shop announced its reopening on Facebook, on October 18.
The reopening is yet another plus for Nillumbik residents and businesses in a month which has seen the tables slowly begin to turn in the war on waste.
On October 6, Nillumbik announced they had made a short-term agreement with KordaMentha, SKM’s receivers to send waste and recycling to the (then) newly reopened Laverton North recycling facility, with kerbside recycling services returning to normal on October 7.
Nillumbik Shire Council Mayor Karen Egan expressed Council’s joy in seeing normality resume.
“This is exciting progress for our residents, who are enthusiastic recyclers and have been waiting patiently for proper services to resume,” she said.
On October 10, Cleanaway Pty Ltd, who acquired SKM’s senior secured debt of $60 million from the Commonwealth Bank in August, announced the acquisition of all SKM assets — which includes three recycling facilities in Victoria.
Cleanaway CEO and Managing Director Vik Bansal commented on the acquisition.
“The Acquisition provides Cleanaway with a strong recycling platform in Victoria and Tasmania as part of our Footprint 2025 strategy and our mission of making a sustainable future possible.
“The recycling sector is undergoing significant structural changes with a move to increase recycling within Australia to support a transition towards a circular economy.
“The Acquisition provides us with the infrastructure to capitalise on the growth opportunities created by these changes.”
Nillumbik Council has also confirmed the current arrangement to send recycling to Laverton North remains in place.
At State level, there are a number of policies and strategies in development to further enhance our ability to “reduce, reuse and recycle”.
The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) are currently developing a circular economy policy which aims to repurpose our waste though repair, recycled goods, and energy generation, in an effort to divert as much waste as possible from landfill.
An initial issues paper and a series of workshops occurred between July and September, with the final outcome and report expected to be released later this year.
Advisory body Infrastructure Victoria released an evidence-based report on October 20 which looked at Victoria’s waste and recycling industry and has outlined a number of solutions for the future.
One possible solution which has sparked interest in national press is the possibility that Victorian’s may end up separating rubbish into six or more bins (organics, plastics, paper, glass, metals and other are given as examples) to reduce the need to co-mingle which, the report suggests, will allow for cleaner waste transport streams which would reduce the risk of contamination and potentially stop recyclables being sent to landfill.
Although the circular economy and the proposal for additional recycling bins is still a long way from becoming a reality, at least the light at the end of the (waste)tunnel is a little bit brighter.
In the meantime, Warrandyte and surrounds should simply continue to do what we do best; take advantage of the monthly Repair Café, fossick and visit the shops like ReUse in Plenty.

 

Bag ban to stop litter before it begins

By SANDI MILLER

THE VICTORIAN Government has now banned single-use, lightweight plastic shopping bags across Victoria.
Minister for Environment Lily D’Ambrosio said the Labor Government would consult closely with businesses and the community on how best to implement the policy.
“Banning single-use plastic bags will slash waste, reduce litter and help protect marine life in Victoria’s pristine waters,” she said.
The trick for all of us will be to avoid adopting behaviours with an even greater environmental impact, such as relying on heavier single-use plastic bags.
Plastics in the environment break up into smaller and smaller pieces over time, becoming increasingly difficult to manage.
They can end up in our waterways, lakes and oceans — contributing to litter and posing a significant hazard to our marine life.
As seen in last month’s Diary, when local photographer Denise Illing captured a photograph of a platypus tangled in rubbish, our local river-dwelling creatures suffer from the pollution that ends up in the Yarra.
Reducing the number of plastic bags we use is an important part of addressing the overall impacts of plastic pollution.
The phasing out of bags in supermarkets is now well established, and local supermarket owner Julie Quinton has said that people are getting much better in remembering to bring their own bags.
Warrandyte Riverside Market has prepared stallholders for the ban, and has been suggesting market goers bring their own bag for some months in the lead up to the ban.
Dick Davies from the Market committee said they are taking the ban very seriously, with committee members checking compliance at the market.
“Any concerned customers can also report non-compliance to the market office marquee in the Stiggant Street car park,” Dick said.
He said customers also have a responsibility to bring their own bags and reusable coffee cups.
“Even plastic or cardboard cups labelled ‘eco-friendly’ are not bio-degradable if the appropriate disposable or recycling facilities are unavailable,” he said.
He said the market has attempted a number of times to provide reusable ceramic coffee mugs but “has run into problems meeting the required food hygiene criteria”.
“Our best advice to shoppers is ‘Bring your own bag and cup’”, Dick said.
The 2015/16 Keep Australia Beautiful National Litter Index reported that Victoria has the lowest litter count in the country for the fifth year in a row.
Let’s keep it that way.

 

The whys and wherefores of bylaws: Pets

Photo: Anthony Edge

HAVING A PET is a privilege and a responsibility.
There are rules around pet ownership that must be adhered to.
These rules ensure that both your pets and other members of the community are able to live together.
These rules are administered by our local councils, and while they differ slightly across all municipalities across Victoria, they all follow State Law, largely the Domestic Animals Act 1994.
Manningham’s Acting Director City Planning and Community, Niall Sheehy and Nillumbik CEO, Carl Cowie gave the Diary the lowdown about pet ownership in their municipalities.

Getting a pet

What some people may not be aware of, is that from July,1 2019, any person or business who is advertising to sell or give away a dog, cat, puppy or kitten will need to be enrolled on the Pet Exchange Register.
“The dog or cat must be advertised with the animal’s microchip number and source number, which has been generated by the Pet Exchange Register,” said Mr Sheehy.
The Pet Exchange Register allocates this unique source number to animals which ensures sellers are transparent about where an animal comes from.Sellers must ensure animals are microchipped before they change owners and animals must be microchipped before 12 weeks of age.
Once someone takes ownership of a new pet, they  should contact Council to register their animal as soon as possible.
Pet registrations are due to be renewed each year on April 10, but all puppies and kittens must be registered by three months of age — this is not the same as microchip registration.
The registration fee gives you more than just a lost and found service for your pet.
It is also funds:

  • facilities such as dog parks, dog poo bins and pounds/shelters
  • animal management staff to attend to nuisance complaints, investigate dog attacks, patrol parks/beaches/streets, and collect and return stray animals to owners
  • events such as pet expos and discount microchipping days
  • information such as responsible pet ownership publications, websites, and online courses
  • domestic animal business audits (e.g. to check animal welfare standards in pet shops, breeding facilities, boarding kennels etc)
  • management of dangerous and restricted breed dogs
  • dog bite prevention education programs for kindergarten and primary school children
  • emergency animal welfare preparedness
  • research into a range of dog and cat welfare issues

In Manningham and Nillumbik there are limits to the number of pets and/or livestock per household can have.
Residents can have two cats and two dogs per household without needing a permit.
There are also limits on other animals that can be kept.
In Nillumbik, without a permit a person must not keep more than:

  • 5 reptiles* or rodents
  • 10 large birds
  • 25 small birds
  • 1 rooster
  • 24 poultry

on any land throughout the municipality.
Keeping some animals may require additional licences.
*You are able to have up to five reptiles without a permit, however, you may need to obtain a licence from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) to keep most species of reptiles in captivity.
In Manningham, the numbers vary slightly:

  • 13 domestic birds
  • 8 mice
  • 4 rabbits
  • 8 guinea pigs
  • 4 chickens, ducks, geese or pigeons

If you wish to exceed these limits, you may apply for an excess animal permit.
In Manningham, a permit is required to keep any emu, ostrich, goat, sheep, cow, pig, bull, or horse in an area less than two acres (8000 sqm).
And in either municipality, a person must not keep any livestock on any land in a residential zone or any land of an area less than 4000sqm.
A pet pig, for example, is considered livestock, so depending on the land zoning and size, a permit may be required.
Mr Cowie told the Diary if residents are seeking to keep animals outside these categories there is a vast array of laws that impact on having exotic or native animals as pets.
“In general, Agriculture Victoria is responsible for the legislation, regulations and standards that governs ownership of these pet types,” he said.
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 protects the welfare of all animals, including amphibians.
Council is responsible for any issues that relate to breaches of containment, cleanliness, smell or noise nuisance that may come from exotic and native pets.
If you want to keep a native animal, for example a dingo, possum, or kangaroo, a private wildlife licence would be required.
These can be obtained through DELWP.

Dog laws

There are several areas of conflict where dog owners come into conflict with other community members.
One is persistent barking.
If a dog in a neighbouring property is too noisy and unreasonably disturbs you, the first step is to make contact with the dog owner to alert them that their dog is causing a nuisance.
If the barking persists and is deemed to be unreasonable, you can contact council to intervene.
The other area of conflict is dog waste.
Mr Sheehy told the Diary that for the enjoyment of the whole community dog owners need to carry a waste bag and pick up after their dog in public.
“Failure to do so could result in a $200 fine,” he said.
He said Manningham Council provide free poo pouches to dog owners.
“These pouches are often handed out by Council Rangers at our parks and reserves”.
Mr Cowie said Nillumbik Shire Council’s Amenity Local Law, states that a person in charge of a dog in a public place must have dog poo bags (or another receptacle to pick up their dog’s excrement) with them.
“They must ensure their dog’s excrement is collected and disposed of appropriately.
“Additionally, if requested by an authorised officer, the owner must present the bags (or other receptacle) they have with them to collect their pet’s waste,” Mr Cowie said.
There are many places to take dogs to run off-leash.
Manningham has 81 off-lead dog areas, including 28 sporting grounds and the popular Warrandyte River Reserve.
Nillumbik have 13 off-lead areas, including two dedicated off-lead dog parks.
One is in Diamond Creek and the other in Hurstbridge.Mr Cowie said off-lead areas throughout the municipality can be located on the Nillumbik website.
However, there are no Council-managed off-lead areas located in North Warrandyte.
Off-lead does not mean a dog can run amok.
Every off-lead dog area has its own signage and guidelines that must be adhered to and they all require off-lead dogs to be under effective control,” said Mr Sheehy.
Effective control by command means the dog must be:

  • Within 25 metres of the owner.
  • The owner is able to see the dog at all times.
  • The owner can recall the dog immediately when needed.

There are further guidelines that help people to act as responsible dog owners and avoid causing concern to other users of a park.
Guidelines include:

  • A dog is at least 15 metres away from permanent barbecue facilities, children’s play equipment, organised sporting events, approved functions or public meetings.
  • A dog’s owner has a leash on hand at all times.
  • A dog is not threatening of worrying any other user of the park.
  • A dog’s owner brings their dog under immediate control if any aggressive behaviour or threat is displayed to another person or animal.
  • A dog’s owner stays alert and focused on the dog at all times.
  • A dog’s owner brings a maximum of two dogs to the park at one time.

There are rules around some breeds of dog which require special registration and cannot be imported or bred.
These include pure or cross bred American Pit Bull Terriers (or Pit Bull Terriers), Perro de Presa Canarios, Dogo Argentinos, Japanese Tosas, and Fila Brasileiros.
Rules have been removed for owners of greyhounds.
As of January 1, 2019, all pet greyhounds are no longer legally required to wear a muzzle in public, including retired racing greyhounds.
A greyhound adopted through Greyhound Racing Victoria’s Greyhound Adoption Program must always be on lead in any public place, but like other dogs, all greyhounds still need to be under effective control by their owner.

Cat owner responsibilities

There is no cat curfew in Manningham.
However, Council recommends that cats be confined to their owner’s properties.
Nillumbik Shire Council has an order requiring cats to be confined during the specified hours of 7:30pm to 6am and restricts the presence of cats in certain public areas (e.g. parks or reserves).
The curfew time remains the same all year round — including during daylight saving time.
Mr Sheehy said as per Victorian state law, cat owners are responsible for ensuring their cats do not wander onto a private property at any time.
“Stray cats may be seized, notices of objection may be served and further non-compliance may result in penalties being issued,” he said.

Vaccinating pet rabbits

Having pet rabbits can require additional precautions when kept in close proximity to feral rabbit populations.
A new strain of rabbit calicivirus, RHDV1 K5 (also known as K5); was released in Victoria in March to help land-owners control pest rabbits.
Anyone who owns pet rabbits should make sure that their vaccinations are up-to-date to protect against the virus.
Domestic pet rabbit owners can take the following extra precautions to protect pet rabbits from K5 infection:

  • Prevent contact between pet and pest rabbits.
  • Don’t cut grass from areas where pest rabbits may be foraging and feed it to pet rabbits.
  • Wash hands with warm soapy water between handling rabbits.
  • Insect-proof the hutch with fly and mosquito proof wire or keep pet rabbits indoors.

Choosing the right pet

No matter what pet you choose, the most responsible choice is one that fits in with your lifestyle.
Remember that puppies and kittens won’t be small and cute forever, so don’t get a puppy if you don’t want a dog.
They are a commitment for up to twenty years.
Ask yourself:

  • What type or breed will you choose?
  • What size dog?
  • How much time do you have for grooming and training?
  • What is your financial position?
  • Will it be kept inside, outside or both?
  • Why do you want a pet?
  • Where you are going to buy it?

Both male and female dogs and cats can be de-sexed at three months of age.
By de-sexing your pet you are promoting responsible pet ownership by preventing unwanted litters.
Council provides a discounted registration fee for dogs and cats what have been de-sexed.
When choosing the type of pet to suit your needs, consider the amount of time the animal will be alone, the time you can commit to grooming and care.
When considering a cat, think about whether there are native birds and animals in your area and whether you will have an enclosure for your cat.
In general, fine-boned oriental cat breeds are very active companions while the larger heavy-boned breeds tend to be more sedate and less inclined to hunt and wander.
And when considering a dog, remember that a cute pup is going to grow up — six months down the track your dog could grow to be much larger than expected.
Consider going to a rescue shelter when looking to adopt a new member of your family, there are many older dogs who deserve a second chance.

For more information, see your relevant council’s website, DELWP, or the Department of Agriculture, or get down to the Nillumbik Pet Expo in Diamond Creek on Sunday, October 20 and talk to Council officers about responsible pet ownership.

 

Recycling service resumes in Nillumbik

AT THE ELEVENTH hour Nillumbik Shire Council have secured a short-term deal with SKM receivers, KordaMentha, to deliver all recycling material to the recently reopened Laverton North facility.
In a press release issued on Sunday morning, Nillumbik Mayor Karen Egan welcomed the new deal.
“This is exciting progress for our residents, who are enthusiastic recyclers and have been waiting patiently for proper services to resume,” she said.
However, the new deal has a number of restrictions which means it is not exactly business as usual.
Bundled plastic bags will no longer be accepted and any resident wanting to dispose of them should take them to a REDcycle program receptacle at Coles or Woolworths.
Stores in Eltham, Greensborough, The Pines, Diamond Creek and St Helena participate in this program.
Council has also said it does not have capacity for additional collections which means residents who have been stockpiling their recyclable material, in anticipation of services returning to normal, will need to take it to Council’s Recycling and Recovery Centre at 290 Yan Yean Road, Plenty.
The new deal is also putting Nillumbik, and its residents on the frontline in the war against waste.
“The new arrangement is a lot stricter. If our recycling is more than 10 per cent contaminated, it may be rejected and sent to landfill.
“It’s up to residents to do the right thing,” said Cr Egan.
If and/or when the Laverton North facility is sold to another company, Council will likely need to renegotiate with the sites new owners.
KordaMentha is the advisory and investment firm appointed as receivers and managers to SKM Recycling Pty Ltd in August.
KordaMentha also received a $10 million State Government loan to aid in the restarting of proper recycling processes for the groups seven sites.
Nillumbik used to deliver to a facility in Coolaroo, but that facility currently remains closed.
Nillumbik Mayor Karen Egan thanked residents for their patience as Council worked to find a way through what is a national crisis.
“Nillumbik residents are among the best recyclers in Victoria and I encourage you to continue your efforts through our kerbside collection,” Cr Egan said.
Council’s Recycling and Recovery Centre is also open to the public to drop off paper, cardboard and metals for recycling.
The cardboard and paper is collected from there by Veolia and taken to the VISY paper plant in Coolaroo, where it is made into new recycled packaging.
The metals are taken to Ecocycle where they are sorted and then recycled locally and overseas.
The fallout from SKM Recycling Pty Ltd entering receivership is still plaguing the State.
Every week there is another story in national press about the mess left by SKM after they failed to pay their creditors.
While the 33 councils impacted by this recycling crisis look to find solutions that avoid sending waste to landfill; warehouses, such as the one owned by Marwood Construction in Derrimut (as reported in The Age on September 29), which has 10,000 tonnes of waste stored by SKM before it went into receivership, currently have no way of getting rid of it.
The ABC recently reported that Indonesia is preparing to send 100 containers of plastic back to Australia following a discovery that the waste, earmarked for recycling, was contaminated.
The bottom line is, while the resumption of recycling services is good news for Nillumbik residents, this issue is far from over, to emulate the words of Nillumbik’s Mayor, it is up to all residents, regardless of municipality, to do the right thing and to continue to reduce, reuse and recycle.

Recycling crisis hits Nillumbik

Update: 14/8/19

ON AUGUST 13, Council released an update regarding the recycling situation in Nillumbik:

Council is working with the State Government’s Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group (MWRRG) to find an alternative for the Shire’s recycling. Council has a contract with SKM through the MWRRG. SKM’s closure affects several councils and about half of Victoria’s recycling.

The broader, long-term issue requires a response from all levels of government. At this stage SKM, while temporarily closed, has indicated that it is working to recommence receiving recycling.

Council will continue to collect recycling bins as normal and encourages residents to continue their recycling efforts until this is resolved, it’s important we keep working together to meet the current challenges.

Unfortunately we expect this week’s recycling will be sent to landfill.

The capacity of alternative facilities in the north of Melbourne is limited and the MWRRG is working to find alternative arrangements.

FAQs

Why can’t Council follow Boroondara’s lead and use Visy or another provider for its new recycle facility?

Nillumbik Shire Council is one of five Councils that has a contract with SKM Industries Pty Ltd through the Metropolitan Waste Resource Recovery Group (MWRRG). A separate company, SKM Corporate Pty Ltd, was recently placed into liquidation. SKM Recycling have advised that SKM Industries Pty Ltd is still able to trade.

Notwithstanding current contractual arrangements, the biggest hurdle for alternatives to processing recyclables appears to be the lack of excess capacity in the northern region to be able to process the kerbside recycle materials.  Other Councils appear to be taking advantage of capacity in other regions. The additional transport costs associated with processing outside the northern region is currently being quantified to help assess the value of any alternative arrangements.

Not a single Councillor, staff member or community member wants to put recycling to landfill, it goes against everything we stand for, so you can be assured we are doing everything we can to get through this.

What does council recommend for residents and how can residents help?

Council’s Recycling and Recovery Centre at 290 Yan Yean Road Plenty accepts recycling paper and cardboard, metals (cans, aluminium foil, pots and pans) and e-waste free of charge.

These source-separated materials are sent to dedicated recycling facilities not affected by the SKM closure.

Residents can also help by avoiding and reducing the amount of waste generated in the first place, only placing the recycling bin out for collection once it’s full and taking soft plastics to Coles/Woolworths for recycling through REDcycle.

What are Council’s next steps?

In the immediate term, Council has no choice but to send kerbside recyclables to the landfill.

In order to understand and manage the contract risk, Council is currently having daily interactions with MWRRG given the situation with SKM is fluid.

In the medium term, the best outcome is that the recycling infrastructure currently owned and operated by SKM continues to operate to process municipal kerbside recycling, whether the operator is SKM or another party. This infrastructure is capable of sorting to the level required by markets both locally and overseas.

In the longer term, Nillumbik is participating in process initiated by MWRRG to explore a collaborative contract for recycling.

*******

ON AUGUST 2, the Supreme Court ordered recycling processing business SMK Recycling is now to be liquidated.
This followed a July 25 announcement that the firm would cease accepting Council recycling waste from 33 municipalities, including Nillumbik.
As a result, Nillumbik Council, which has been sending all its material from household recycling bins to SKM, may have to divert this material to landfill until a new solution is found.
Moments after news of SKM’s imminent demise was made public, Nillumbik issued a press release, advising residents of the situation.
The Council have continued to collect recycling bins as normal and encourage residents to continue their recycling efforts.
After the courts announcement, Nillumbik Mayor, Karen Eagan said residents can help by reducing the amount of waste they generate whether its recycling, food or general waste.
“Every effort is being made by Council to find short term, interim and long term solutions, including finding alternative recycling options.
“Like several other councils that are also affected, we’re very concerned about how we’re being forced to send recycling to landfill this week”, she said.
Cr Egan said Council will continue to work with the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group and other councils to create sustainable solutions for managing waste.
Nillumbik has been in a long-term collaborative contract with Wyndham, Brimbank, Melbourne and Port Phillip Councils, with the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group as contract principal — this contract was not due to expire until 2026.
Cr Egan said the state’s recycling service is a state-wide and long term issue that “requires a stronger response and commitment from all levels of government”.
Apart from the obvious concern of all environmentally-conscious residents that recyclable material is once again going to landfill, there are serious financial aspects to this fiasco which will undoubtedly have a significant effect on Council rates in future years.
Sending this material to landfill comes at a cost, as all Councils have to pay a State Government levy for every tonne of material deposited in landfill — an extra expense that has not been budgeted for.
Additionally, any contract with an alternative collector would come at a significantly higher price than that agreed with SKM.
More worrying is that although we do not know what advance payments, if any, have been made to SKM, we do know that at the last Council meeting on June 25 the existing contract was amended to change the price.
That item on the agenda was held in camera, and despite our enquiries to Council as to whether additional sums over and above the original contract agreement had been paid to SKM in the last month, we are told that “the detail remains confidential”.

The bigger picture

Earlier this year, SKM was ordered to stop receiving waste at its Coolaroo and Laverton North sites after they failed a waste audit and SKM was fined $16,000 for failing to get its facilities back within regulation within the prescribed timeframe.
SKM has been in an insolvency hearing at the Supreme Court, facing liquidation from creditors, with debts reported to be in the millions.
The recycling company — who has contracts with 33 Councils in Victoria — had warned 400,000 tonnes of recyclables would be sent to landfill each year if the company was to permanently close.
There is genuine concern that this will become the reality.
As the recycling situation has deteriorated during the last month there has been no shortage of blame in the mainstream press.
Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio recently labelled SKM as a “rogue operator”.
Victorian Waste Management Association’s Chief Executive Peter Anderson criticised councils for continuing to send recyclables to SKM and of being irresponsible in maintaining their contracts with the company.
SKM pointed the finger at households for contaminating the recyclable rubbish.

Impacted Councils

There are a total of 79 Local Councils in Victoria.
33 Councils across Victoria had contracts with SKM to collect and process their waste.
The other 46 used Visy or similar waste and recycling contractors.

The 33 Councils which have been impacted by the liquidation of SKM are:

  • Melbourne, Port Phillip, Darebin, Nillumbik, Hume, Whittlesea
  • Wyndham, Brimbank, Moonee Valley, Hobsons Bay, Cardinia
  • Booroondara, Stonnington, Knox, Casey, Kingston
  • Mornington Peninsula, Geelong, Colac, Otway, Queenscliff, Surf Coast
  • Ballarat, Macedon, Hepburn, Golden Plains, Mildura, West Wimmera,
  • Yarriambiack, Buloke, Hindmarsh, Pyrenees, Glenelg.

At this point in time, all other Councils in Victoria are still able to collect and properly process recycling.

VEC: Nillumbik Representation Review

Final report released

The Victorian Electoral Commission(VEC) have released their final report and recommendation for the Nillumbik Shire Representation Review.

The review, a process which takes place every 12 years, aims to ensure residents in municipalities are fairly represented by local council.

Over the course of the process, which began in April, a total of 157 public submissions were received by the VEC across the Preliminary Submission and Response Submission phases.

In its Preliminary Report, the VEC’s preferred option was a multi-councillor, three-ward structure which would have seen the distinct urban and rural areas covered under their own ward.

However, in the Final Report, the VEC has recommended the Shire retains its current representation structure of seven wards with one councillor per ward, a decision which will be welcomed by Council who have been submitting for the status quo since this process began.

Read our full analysis of the Nillumbik Representation Review in June’s Diary,  which will be available online on Monday.

Click here to read the Final Report.

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.

Council representation under review

THE VICTORIAN Electoral Commission (VEC) is conducting an Electoral Representation Review of Nillumbik Shire Council.

In this review, the VEC will look at Council elements such as the number of councillors, the number of wards,  where the wards are located and how many councillors represent each ward.

The VEC conduct this review of every Council in the state every 12 years.

Submissions for the Preliminary Report are being accepted until 5pm, Wednesday, March 13 and can be submitted to the VEC in writing or through their website.

VEC Electoral Commissioner, Warwick Gately AM is encouraging all Nillumbik Shire residents to get involved, as this review will determine how residents are represented by Council.

“The opportunity to have your say doesn’t come around too often, so it’s important to have a broad range of community members contributing to the shape of their local democracy.

“If you are interested in the future electoral structure of your local area, I encourage you to get involved.

“Public submissions are a vital part of the review process, providing valuable local knowledge and perspectives,” he said.

At the last review in 2008, the VEC report recommended the Shire reduce the number of Wards from nine to seven.

Council are vying to maintain the status quo, passing a motion at the February 26 Ordinary Meeting to submit to the VEC that it retains the seven single councillor ward structure.

The submission continues to summarise that current structure is “consistent with seven distinct geographical communities of interest”, that under a single councillor per ward, it is easy for that person to represent the diverse interests of the wards occupants and that under the current system “responsibility for an issue is less likely to be passed from one councillor to another”.

Yet, current submissions from residents do not support this view.

Vince Bagusauskas is submitting a multimember structure be introduced into the ward structure and proposes this would lead to members serving for the “greater good of the community” as “all have to consider all views”.

Narelle Campbell is submitting a proportional representational model, similar to the Federal Senate.

“The Senate model in Nillumbik would provide equal representation of urban and rural residents at council.

“This would go some way towards ensuring urban residents and landowners, and rural residents and landowners are fairly represented and their needs inform local priorities, decisions and laws”.

Local activist and former Greens candidate in the 2018 State election, Ben Ramcharan also supports the concept of proportional representation and is currently campaigning for Nillumbik residents to endorse the idea.

“Political views in Nillumbik are deeply divided between pro-environment and pro-development.

“Each election, the council seems to switch between the two points of view. This causes a lack of continuity, which is a big problem.”

“With proportional representation, there would be a greater diversity of voices and councillors would need to negotiate, as it would be very difficult for either side to get an absolute majority.

“This would result in proposals to council being more acceptable to both sides and less likely to get revoked.

“It would also mean less drastic changes at council elections, resulting in greater continuity for the shire,” he said.

With many shire residents complaining about the town vs country divide and community groups within the Green Wedge fighting with each other and council over ideological differences, the proportional representation model has promise, but is not a golden ticket.

Electoral boundaries, both within and without the Shire are driven — under State law — by the concept of maintaining a consistent voter/councillor ratio and with the population spread as it is within Nillumbik, there will always be more councillors in the more densely populated urban areas.

But this level of change is not part of the current VEC review, although the review offers a great platform to discuss this issue and maybe even begin working on a governing solution to bring about ideological and geographical balance.

“The biggest solvable issue for rural residents is that half of them are not currently represented by their local councillor because of the political divide in Nillumbik.

“Although proportional representation may not solve the problem of rural residents getting less councillors, what it will do is ensure that all rural residents are represented by at least one of their councillors,” said Mr Ramcharan.

If you are interested in posting a submission for the preliminary part of this review you can do it online via the VEC website, by email to: nillumbik.review@vec.vic.gov.au or via post to Victorian Electoral Commission Level 11, 530 Collins Street, Melbourne, 3000.

All submissions must contain your full name, address and contact number.

All submissions will be published on the VEC website or will be available for public inspection at the VEC office in Melbourne.

Following the preliminary submissions, a report will be published by the VEC and a window for submitting responses to this report will open.

The VEC review of Manningham Council is scheduled to take place before the 2020 Municipal Election but a date has not yet been announced.

Artists’ opening their studios

Photo: Sandi Miller

Pictured: Syd and Ona in their Bend of Islands studio

The last weekend for Nillumbik Artists Open Studio is fast approaching, with November 24/25 – your last chance to take a sneak peak at local artists creative spaces.

For more than 30 years, the Open Studio program connects art lovers to artists by inviting the public into their studios.

“Nillumbik Artists Open Studios showcases diverse visual arts practices from painting, photography and printmaking to ceramics, sculpture, textiles and glass.

“There is something for everyone,” said Nillumbik Mayor Peter Clarke.

With six new artists added to the Open Studio bill, both locals and tourists will be spoilt for choice with 27 different artists across nearly a dozen artistic mediums.

Of local interest is Open Studios newcomer Deborah Halpern, known for the Angel on Birrarung Mar and the Queen of the Shire which used to greet cars and pedestrians as they crossed Warrandyte Bridge.

Visit the Nillumbik Open Studio website to download a program.

Not just for Christmas

Pictured: Veroncia Holland, Doug Evans and Sally Brennan

RESIDENTS of Christmas Hills have had their concerns heard regarding the consultation process around the Melbourne Water land disposal with Lisa Neville, Minister for Water calling on Melbourne Water to extend their consultation period.

As reported in the June Diary, the community are concerned that Melbourne Water is taking a short-term view of the divestment of 1,000Ha of land being sold off, now that the decision has been made not to construct the Watsons Creek Storage Reservoir (WCSR).

Melbourne Water met with residents in May seeking community input into how the land should be configured and which zoning would be most appropriate for the land.

Local residents and representatives of the Christmas Hills Landcare Group, Veronica Holland and Doug Evans spoke with the Diary and said that the consultation since the May public forums and their subsequent Melbourne Water Options Development Report — Christmas Hills Land Use Study (ODR) has been non-existent.

“Just deathly silence,” said Ms Holland.

However, she said that Nillumbik Council has been put in a “wonderful report that just outlines all the planning regulations that don’t seem to be mentioned in Melbourne Water’s report”.

“It starts off by saying that the land can only be sold once, so you have to be sure that the use of the land before you sell it is what you want it to be into the future,” Ms Holland said.

The Council’s Draft Assessment report highlights what it says are a number of deficiencies that are evident in the ODR. When the document was tabled at the Nillumbik Futures Committee meeting, the Council heard how the “ODR outlined the key considerations that have informed the development of the, largely residential-led, land use options proposed for the ‘study area’”.

“Council’s draft Assessment Report highlights concern with the lack of evidence to demonstrate how Melbourne Water has considered and is seeking to implement key State Green Wedge policies and objectives.

“Further, there are a number of statutory planning concerns about implementing the residential outcomes shown in the ODR” the meeting’s minutes note.

Nillumbik Councillor Jane Ashton spoke to the Diary at the time of the July meeting and said that Melbourne Water need to “look higher-level, they have to look to what the State Government is saying about Green Wedges moving into the future.

“We think what they have done is pretty simplistic, if they define ‘best use’ basically meaning how many residential blocks can you get in there, we think ‘best use’ is not that, it is preserving Ponylands and Wanneroo and Rob Roy.

“I love Christmas Hills, it is an absolute microcosm of what the Green Wedge can be — you’ve got all these amenities, you have got walking trails and tracks, you’ve got a sailing club — how many people have got a sailing club like that with views like that?”

Mr Evans said that Melbourne Water’s approach “appears to be a shorter term outlook than what the community wants, which is longer term — how do we protect the values of this place for the long term?”

“How do we protect the potential for agriculture and contributing to Melbourne’s food bowl for the long term?

“How do we protect what community values here in the long term?

“Whereas Melbourne Water ’s approach, from our increasingly cynical point of view, has been a shorter term, ‘what is in it for us quick, which is how do we get more houses in there and make more money’,” he said.

He and Ms Holland say the current community have a feeling of stewardship over this place, “it’s not something to be exploited, it is something to be appreciated and protected forever”.

“Chop it up and put a house on it and you have lost that potential forever, keep it as big as possible and use it in ways that don’t preclude agriculture in the future is much better,” he said.

Sally Brennan is the Labor candidate for Eildon, which includes Christmas Hills, in the forthcoming State election.

Ms Brennan has met with local residents and raised the community’s concerns directly with the Minister for Water and she is calling on Melbourne Water to engage further with the community to understand these views.

Ms Brennan is calling on Melbourne Water to take a long term view within the context of what is best for Christmas Hills, what’s best for the environment and what is best for the long term future of the land.

Liberal Member for Eildon, Cindy McLeish told the Diary that the Andrews government is “hell bent on selling land in order to pay for big infrastructure projects in the city”.

“Those land sales, and the potentially inappropriate development that follows, pose a big risk to the amenity of our local area”.

She said that she had called on the Minister to ensure that Melbourne Water conducts transparent and robust community consultation to ensure local resident’s views are incorporated into the development of a Master Plan for the Christmas Hills land.

“I was concerned that only two options were put to the residents when in fact the consultants had developed three options,” she said.

Minister Neville has told the Diary that this is a “once in a generation opportunity to protect and enhance the environmental and community assets of Christmas Hills by identifying options for the disposal of land in the area currently owned by Melbourne Water”.

“As part of this process, we want to ensure the community’s voice is heard on the Master Plan for the area, so I’ve asked Melbourne Water to extend the independent assessment following concerns raised by community members,” she said.

A spokesperson from Melbourne Water told the Diary they are continuing to review the range of feedback that has been received related to the draft Master Plan for land in the Christmas Hills area.

“We recognise that, while we have undertaken significant community engagement and consultation, some concerns remain.

“We also acknowledge there are further opportunities for Melbourne Water to engage with stakeholders and the community and we’re committed to doing this.”

The spokesperson said “as a first step, we are working closely with Nillumbik Shire Council in response to their detailed submission to our draft Master Plan and considering the importance of this process, we want to allow appropriate time for these discussions”.

Melbourne Water has said it will provide the community with another update later in the year and is “currently looking at further opportunities for stakeholders and the community to engage with Melbourne Water” before the draft Master Plan is finalised.

Mr Evans says that more consultation in itself is not the complete answer.

“It is not just more consultation per se, I think we would only be interested in more consultation if there was a genuine shift in focus to the long term view.

“We need to see the current position, has it changed from what has been presented to us previously, if it hasn’t changed there is not a lot of value in meeting again to say yes there is no change,” he said.

“We want the end result to reflect the principles of the Green Wedge, it should be in the largest lots possible under the Green Wedge provisions because now that it is public ownership, one ownership, they can address the problems of small lots within the Green Wedge by consolidating them, and if you do that you have basically created, or preserved, what is this unique place close to Melbourne,” said Ms Holland.

Ms Brennan said: “it is very much the context of the consultation…which is what is best for the future, what is best for the community, what is best for Christmas Hills, what is best for Melbourne”.

“This is a unique opportunity to look at a piece of land that we as Victorians, and certainly as residents of Christmas Hills, seek a stewardship role over to protect for the future — not a short term solution, one that gets rid of the problem for Melbourne Water.

“For a whole range of reasons, there has been a disconnect between the process that Melbourne Water has undertaken and those long term aspirations of the community — so what we need to do is bring it back together — it needs to include a much more broad-ranging, longterm solution, that includes the expectations of this community, which are about protecting the Green Wedge, protecting the integrity of that land.

“This is a rare opportunity to do something important and valuable and in fact to make it better than it was,” Ms Brennan said.

Grassroots sport focus of new Nillumbik budget

At the end of June, Nillumbik will adopt their 2018/19 annual budget.

Submissions from Nillumbik residents were being accepted during the month of May.

If the draft budget is adopted, this is how it will affect the Shire’s 64,000+ residents over the next 12 months.

Rates are always at the forefront of residents’ minds and there is a proposed rate increase of 1.95 per cent.

Nillumbik’s municipal rates charge, which was previously a separate and fixed charge of $95.84 per property has been “abolished” and subsequently absorbed into the general rates charge.

The ban by China on foreign waste which has impacted many municipalities will not impact the 2018/19 budget.

There is a $0 increase in waste management charges for Nillumbik households, which is in contrast to neighbouring municipalities which have seen an increase on their waste charges of around 20%.

Both Manningham and Yarra Ranges councils have attributed this increase to the impact of not being able to on-sell recyclable waste to China.

This is good news for Nillumbik ratepayers who are already paying higher rates for their kerbside waste collection, but it is also worth noting that Nillumbik’s ability to keep waste collection rates at 2017/18 levels could be attributed to the Shire’s generous recycling policy, which allows residents to recycle plastic bags and other soft plastics such as bubble wrap and plastic wrapping from food and appliances.

At present, residents of Manningham are required to place these materials in their general waste bin.

The “Green Wedge Shire” has sport and infrastructure as key projects on their agenda for the next financial year.

$32.246M has been set aside in the 2018/19 budget for these projects, key projects within this budget include:

• Diamond Creek Netball Club Pavilion
• Eltham Central Park oval pavilion upgrade
• Research Park Sports Pavilion
• Hurstbridge Line Overpass

Some money has also been set aside in the Council coffers for the Diamond Creek Trail extension — a project which will connect the cycle trail network all the way to Hurstbridge.

These projects cannot proceed without additional income from State Government.

In April 2018, Nillumbik Council announced they had successfully lobbied the Victorian Government and secured an additional $400,000 through the Growing Suburbs Fund, which is on top of a previous grant of $800,000 from State Government.

In April, Mayor Peter Clarke said, “Nillumbik Council will now have access to this important funding stream, along with an additional $400,000 to improve facilities for the Eltham Football and Cricket Clubs.”

The granting of funds from State Government came at the eleventh hour for Council when it was considering selling 17 parcels of Council land (including a number of reserves) which was strongly protested by Nillumbik residents.

As reported in the April Diary, Cr Clarke had indicated that additional funding was required for the development of leisure and infrastructure in Nillumbik and lobbying state and federal government to help foot the bill is preferred to selling off large amounts of land.

“As a result of our lobbying efforts we are now starting to crack open funding opportunities that may result in us being able to preserve these community assets, while at the same time delivering on new and upgraded community facilities.

“Our success in securing these funding opportunities has relieved pressure on Council to have to sell all 17 sites,” he said.

Projects such as developing sports pavilions and extending the Diamond Creek Trail will still require more funding than Council has put aside.

The 2018/19 budget reports that council may have to look at land sales as a way to generate funding for future Capital Works.

48 submissions were made to Council concerning the 2018/19 budget.

Many of the submissions declared support for the $1.5M Council earmarked for land acquisition for the Diamond Creek Trail extension,

There were also many voicing anger at Council for a lack of information about funding for Yarrambat Golf Course.

The Nillumbik Council Officer responded to all submissions concerning Yarrambat Golf Course with this statement:

“Council can confirm capital works will be undertaken during the 2018-19 financial year to the Golf Course.
In addition to the works and part of the maintenance program Council will be planting 500 trees around the facility.
Council continues to review the entire capital works program on an annual basis, this process includes (but is not limited to) assessment of renewal gap requirements, compliance with statutory obligations and consideration of future needs.
Specifically, with regard to the Yarrambat Golf Course ongoing review of the facility is continuing and should urgent works arise during the year they will be considered by Council.”

In terms of major projects, with Council’s focus on developing sporting grounds and infrastructure in the more urban areas of the Shire, there is not much in it for residents in more rural areas such as North Warrandyte, Bend of Islands or Christmas Hills.

In light of the $307M political football kicked by State Government Opposition Leader Matthew Guy, which promised the Coalition would fund the duplication of the railway line between Greensborough and Eltham, Nillumbik’s $1.7M Hurstbridge Line Overpass could indicate further disruption to Warrandyte residents and Bridge users, similar to what was seen in March and April of this year during the Clifton Hill–Greensborough upgrade.

Council greenlights bridgeworks

AUGUST HAS been a busy month with regards to the Warrandyte Bridge upgrade project.

On August 29, Manningham Council discussed and passed a motion to grant a conditional planning permit to Abzeco Pty Ltd on behalf of VicRoads for the roadworks associated with the bridge upgrade on the Manningham side of the river.

Approval granted

Cr McLeish made amendments to the original motion to include details around the use of local stone and for a “safe crossing point” where the bridge meets the roundabout.

This alternate motion was carried by the Council, which effectively means once VicRoads produce the required amendments, they will have their permit.

The ammended motion comes after Council, VicRoads and the objectors met in a Submitters meeting.

At the meeting, a number of proposed changes were put forward.

The Diary asked the WCA for comment on Manningham’s decision, Mr Gillan, on behalf of the WCA told the Diary they were happy with the addition of the pedestrian crossing but “disappointed the other conditions were not adopted”.

Reports that bridgeworks would start in late October sparked conversation in the community last week.

With the bridge project always earmarked for completion “before the next fire season”, the prospect of major roadworks during the region’s most dangerous time of year is unsettling.

This news conflicts with comment from Manningham councillors who stated they were told works would be delayed until after the fire season, the Diary spoke with Manningham Mayor Cr Michelle Kleinert.

“With any upgrade there is always going to be disruption, we are in one of the top 10 places in the world for fire hazard — traffic is lighter over school holidays but we have this factor of bushfire,” she said.

Manningham council also stressed that this is a VicRoads project and legal responsibility for safeguarding their workers and the community lies with them.

Once construction commences, the roadworks will include:

  • Road space to accommodate the three traffic lanes on the bridge (one northbound and two southbound).
  • Pedestrian footpath widening to accommodate the three-metre-wide path on the east/downstream side of the bridge and the 1.8metre wide path on the west/upstream side of the bridge.
  • A dedicated left turn lane onto the bridge going northbound.
  • Guard rails for traffic and pedestrians.
  • New retaining walls.
  • The removal of five native trees/shrubs.

On the Nillumbik side, there were six objections to the planning application for roadworks and vegetation removal on the north side of the river, Nillumbik’s planning officer is currently talking to Melbourne Water about the application and the Diary is led to believe a decision will be made very soon.

As we go to print, we have also learned Nillumbik Shire CEO Mark Stoermer has written to VicRoads relaying concerns that the “Warrandyte Bridge serves as a critical, single access point for both the local community and emergency services during emergency events, particularly during the bushfire season”.

Nillumbik Council also told the Diary:

Council is waiting on a response from VicRoads confirming that the bridgeworks will not affect emergency responses to and from the area.

That VicRoads will provide an outline of the measures proposed during days of elevated fire risk.

And a communication plan informing residents of any possible closures so residents can make informed decisions about their safety.

Council expects a response from VicRoads by mid-September.

The Diary have pressed VicRoads for comment regarding bridgeworks over the summer, as we go to print, we are still awaiting comment.

The deliberation

When considering the application, Manningham council reported the key issues in this application are environment impact, landscape impact and heritage consideration.

A number of environmental (ESO 2 and ESO 3) and heritage overlays at the site for the bridgeworks mean a planning permit is required for the roadworks associated with the bridge upgrade and as such, a number of conditions need to be met if the planning application is to be approved.

The report indicates the removal of the five trees has resulted in the recommendation that 92 plants must be planted to offset the loss of the trees, this means 14 canopy trees and 78 indigenous trees, shrubs, climbers or grasses all of which must be indigenous to Manningham and will be located within the “Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority Boundary or Manningham City Council municipal district”.

The report also suggests the addition of an aerial wildlife movement pathway is also condition for approval.

The Council’s heritage advisor is quoted in the report as saying:

“This application has been assessed in relation to the impact of the proposed development on the precinct as a whole.

“Given the extensive nature of the precinct and the amount of mature vegetation that exists within it, it is not anticipated that the proposed works will impact on the distinctive landscape character of the precinct. 

“It is also noted that there is potential for the proposed works to contribute to the appreciation of heritage values associated with the area by reducing traffic congestion at this key intersection, and by increasing potential for use and enjoyment of the area by pedestrians and cyclists”.

The department of City Strategy (Open Space) asked the plans to address the following elements:

  • The new roads and kerbs need to match existing stonework projects within Warrandyte and conform to the township’s heritage guidelines.
  • A new footpath between Yarra Street and the river on the Western side of the bridge.
  • Signage to help pedestrians identify the pedestrian crossing point on either side of the roundabout or to give them the option to walk under the bridge, along the river.

The Council report also noted there is an amendment in place to minimise any modifications to the existing bus stops around the Bridge intersection (eastbound at the toilet block and westbound in front of the War Memorial) but there is a provision for a semi-mountable kerb opposite 217 Yarra Street (approximately located above the Lions Club tennis courts) for a bus parking area.

With the bus parking area and the new northbound slip-lane, the number of parking bays between the lolly shop and the bridge are likely to be significantly reduced.

The Council report noted there were 10 objectors to the Manningham application, these objectors were made up of two local groups and eight private objectors.

Their objections centred around environmental and natural impact relating to the removal of the trees, the aesthetic and heritage impact of the bridge, the disruption during construction and the threat of increased traffic flow once the upgrade is complete.

On Thursday August 24, VicRoads, Manningham Council and the 10 objectors held a Submitters meeting at Manningham Council offices where the objectors were able to voice their concerns and discuss their objection to the planning application.

Following this meeting, Kyle Gillan, representing the Warrandyte Community Association (WCA), invited a few of the objectors along to a meeting with the Diary to discuss their objections to the Warrandyte Bridge upgrade project.

The Diary asked the group about the Submitters meeting on August 24; Mr Gillan began with a summary of what the WCA had taken to the meeting, in reaction to the council officer’s report.

“The submission the WCA made was asking for four additional conditions to be imposed on the permit,” he said.

The WCA’s additional conditions were:

  • The retention of the pedestrian crossing between the bridge and the roundabout.
  • Yarra Street is not to be widened to accommodate the northbound slip lane.
  • Crash barriers redesigned or removed because they are an “eyesore” and “not consistent with the heritage overlay”.
  • The use of natural stone (similar to stone used in the recent footpath works east of the bridge) on all paths, abutments and retaining walls.

Mr Gillan later clarified the objectors at the Submitters meeting wanted this crossing changed from a pedestrian refuge to a zebra crossing.

“At the moment there is a pedestrian refuge so what everyone’s asking for is a zebra crossing which gives pedestrians priority and legal protection, so if they are on that they are protected”.

“A lot of the councillors, particularly Cr Sophy Galbally of Mullum Mullum ward was very concerned about pedestrian safety as she herself has mobility issues.

“The VicRoads plan will be quite bad for people with mobility issues or for children who are catching the bus,” said Mr Gillan.

Other objectors to the Manningham planning application expressed their concern about the cultural and environmental impact of the works.

Pamela Hipwell is worried about the future of the stonework underneath the War Memorial.

Her concern lies in the non-existence of any statement which suggests the stonework around the War Memorial will be protected at all cost.

“They were built by sustenance workers in the 1930s depression and they are of unique historic and aesthetic value and they link up with the War Memorial and that is very very precious to Warrandyte.

“What I am concerned about is that will chip away, they’ve got their slip lanes and then they will be gouging out more because Yarra Street won’t cope with the extra traffic flow and they’ll want more,” she said.

All the way through the extensive discussion the Diary had with the objectors, concerns over protecting the township’s heritage and the environment were at the core of their arguments, but there was also genuine concern that the bridgeworks will do nothing to alleviate the peak-time traffic congestion.

Theresa Dawson and Jeremy Loftus-Hills, who are also on the Urban Design Advisory Panel (UDAP), expressed doubts as to the benefits the bridge upgrade will have.

“My first and major concern was once they widen the bridge and then there is no room — yes the traffic, for a split second over the bridge, will move faster but then it is going to come to a dead halt on either side of the bridge,” said Ms Dawson.

Mr Loftus-Hills objects to the current plan in its entirety and says it has been stunted by Government budget constraints.

“We are better off without it… my objection is to the design that’s been built into the bridge has been lowering the performance of the existing bridge,” he said.

Mr Loftus-Hills later explained why he thinks the bridge is constrained by budget.

“If you read the feedback they gave us in November last year, they say they cannot do that for economic reasons and for environmental reasons but …the last FOI response I got from them said they hadn’t done any costings, there is no paperwork to show you, that’s now before the commissioner,” he said.

The Manningham Council report contains a response to objections about funding for this project.

The report states the bridge offers “significant community benefits” and states the “extensive consultation” which has occurred over the past three years “cannot be revisited under the planning assessment”.

The key issue around the bridge upgrade is the comment by Victoria’s Emergency Management Commissioner, Craig Lapsley, who identified the Yarra crossing in Warrandyte as a real weakness for traffic flow, in both everyday congestion and in emergency evacuation during bushfire.

During the interview with the Diary, objectors raised concern this context to the bridge upgrade was muddying the CFA’s “leave early” message.

The Diary put this concern to Warrandyte CFA Captain, Adrian Mullens.

“Potentially yeah, the hardest part is to get into people’s heads that they have to leave early,” he said.

Captain Mullens went on to say the high turnover of population in Warrandyte and that there have been no significant fires in Warrandyte since 2014 has led to a state of complacency in the community.

The take-out from this is that the bridge’s effectiveness during emergency evacuation is indeed an important aspect of the upgrade project and an aspect which should be put under heavy critical analysis.

However, awareness of the risks of bushfire and the message of “leave early” is something that, as a community, we need to be proactive about.

Time to come together

It is becoming clear the Warrandyte Bridge upgrade will eventually happen, the government feels it has invested a lot of money into this project and VicRoads will not want to be seen backing down on this issue, especially with the link between the bridge widening and the threat of bushfire.

Objections to the bridge project centre on protecting heritage and environmental overlays, as well as defending the “independent township” culture of our suburb.

An idea that has been fought for by long term residents for many decades and it is these same residents who now argue the point of the fight is to maintain the identity, as it is, for future generations.

“From the very start I said ‘don’t let this happen because it is not about what happens today, it is about where it will go in the future’, so you have to look outside of here to fix the problem and that’s what everyone has to get on board with, it’s leave us alone and we have to push them to move outside the area — do the Ring Road,” said Ms Dawson.

Mr Gillan added: “It’s not the residents of Warrandyte that are causing this, it’s the growth in the sprawling suburbs of Melbourne, the northern growth corridor.

“That’s why we have the heritage overlay, that’s why we have the Green Wedge protected by the Environment act and those things have to be respected,” he said.

The conversations the Diary has had with different sides of the bridge debate and the type of conversation seen on Social Media would suggest there is a growing divide between the residents who have been in the Township for 20,30,40 years and those who have not.

Warrandyte has fought hard to maintain an aesthetic and amenity which makes Warrandyte the lovely place it is but the suburbs around the Green Wedge and along the northern growth corridors are pushing more cars and more people through Warrandyte and the surrounding area.

The Warrandyte Bridge upgrade debate illustrates the clash between maintaining our village-like heritage and functioning as a suburb of a growing Melbourne.

To have the qualities that define Warrandyte as a special place and accessibility to modern infrastructure is always going to be a difficult balance, but this is a special place and we are a determined community.

With some intelligent conversation and some empathy towards other people’s views we can have the best of both worlds.

North East Link planning hots up

ACTIVITY IS RAMPING up in the planning for the North East Link, and the route to be chosen is by far the most contentious issue.

North East Link Authority (NELA)

NELA has confirmed their process of consultation will commence in July/August.

Their current investigations are concentrating on geotechnical testing and analysis.

Their website has a short video on the current program of drilling to take soil samples from 24 sites.

Geotechnical study sites (North East Link Authority website)

Whilst the line of drillings to the west of Warrandyte follows the expected path of the central route past Beasley’s Nursery, there is one curious drilling location shown in Warrandyte, south of the river around the Stonehouse Café area.

Katie Hall, Corporate Communications and Media Manager North East Link Authority, told the Diary “the drill locations on the video map are indicative of where drilling will take place but are not exact.

“Where the rigs are set up depends on where there is a suitable location such as a VicRoads reservation, and where we are missing information regarding the soil and rock profiles,” she said.

The current investigations will look at the suitability of tunnelling, cut and fill, gradients, vegetation, environmental and socioeconomic considerations.

NELA will then identify several corridors.

Each of the identified corridors will have a full analysis of the positives and negatives for each.

This process will not select a route for the NE Link; it is a broad corridor identification process only.

After the corridors have been identified, the first full round of public consultation by NELA will commence.

The consultations will allow the public to have input into the corridors identified and to make submissions with respect to their suitability.

Nillumbik Pro-Active Landowners (PALs)

The PALs group conducted a survey via their Facebook page, this survey received 146 responses.

47% of the responders were from Kangaroo Ground while only 1% were from North Warrandyte.

The overwhelming majority (94%) of respondents supported the North East Link with only 5% saying they did not support it.

While 70% objected to the road being built in Nillumbik, with 25% saying they approved of a Green Wedge route, and 65% supporting the link being mainly tunnel (12% against).

Spokesman for the PALs group, Max Parsons, told the Diary PALs will be working to ensure NELA understand, acknowledge and appreciate the importance of the Green Wedge to the residents and landowners in Nillumbik, as well as its state and national significance, Mr Parsons also stressed the importance of financial compensation for landowners.

“With a determined view to the primacy of human life in relation to bush fire risk, the loss of vegetation and Green Wedge areas, the dissection of and disruption to existing communities and the isolation of native fauna must all be factored into the equation to select an appropriate route for the North East Link.

“Should the North East Link proceed, affected landowners must receive appropriate market-based compensation for any acquired land or adjoining affected properties,” he said.

Warrandyte Community Association (WCA)

The WCA has expressed concern Banyule Council and residents are mounting a well-organised campaign advocating the Central Option to the west of Warrandyte as preferable to the shorter route running down to andunder the Banyule river flats to join the Eastern Freeway at Bulleen.

Convenor of the Warrandyte Community Association subcommittee working on this issue, Carli Lange-Boutle, feels the action in Banyule could have serious impact on Warrandyte.

“The Government plans to start construction on the Link in 2019 and community groups and Councils along the various routes are linking up and preparing to argue against a route through their communities,” she said

The WCA understands the public will have only six weeks in which to respond to the NELA Route Options paper, planned for issue in late July so the research needed to lodge an objection needs to begin now.

The WCA is alarmed at the potential impact of the Greensborough–Ringwood route.

The borehole location figure on the NELA website confirms the Authority is considering an alignment parallel to the high voltage powerline easements running from St Helena to Ringwood, crossing or passing under the Yarra River near Target Road in Warrandyte.

At 19 km long, this route would be over twice the length of the Banyule route and unless extensive tunnelling is used, it would impact the Diamond and Mullum Mullum Creeks, as well as the Yarra River.

Mrs Lange-Boutle says, “Access ramps at Reynolds Road near Springvale Rd seem likely for this route option and this could generate serious traffic volumes for Yarra Street Warrandyte, including Warrandyte Bridge traffic and through the neighbouring Donvale and Park Orchards.

“There is also great concern for the health of the Mullum Mullum Creek and Yarra River.

“We need to consider all impacts to our communities; economically, socially and environmentally,” she said.

There is also pressure from the east.

Nillumbik groups are preparing to argue against the routes through the Green Wedge areas of Kangaroo Ground and Christmas Hills; there are serious environmental issues along these routes too.

The WCA has urged Warrandyte residents to take an active interest on this issue

Manningham City Council

Unlike other municipalities, Manningham City Council seems to be sitting on the fence when it comesto taking a position on the route the North East Link should take.

Last month Director of Assets and Engineering, Leigh Harrison, advised the Diary the “council does not currently have a formal position on the proposal”.

The council has an Integrated Transport Advisory Subcommittee (ITAC), but Mr Harrison advised “The ITAC is an advisory committee and, as such, does not formulate policy for Council’s consideration.

“The committee can agree on a view in relation to North East Link however, to date, the level of detail associated with the North East Link is too abstract to determine any concrete direction,” he said.

Their reluctance to take a position is perhaps understandable when it is considered a number of route options pass within their boundaries.

Nillumbik Shire Council

Nillumbik council officers and Councillors Karen Egan and Jane Ashton have reached agreement with NELA to hold several information sessions for local communities within the Nillumbik investigation area to talk with NELA representatives about their process, opportunities, issues and the challenges North East Link will bring so that they can use what they learn in their decision making.

The sessions are planned to be held:

  • Sunday July 23 — 9am – 12pm Eltham Town Square
  • Monday July 24 — 5pm – 8pm Nillumbik Civic Centre Greensborough
  • Saturday July 29 — 10am – 1:30pm Diamond Creek Community Centre
  • Sunday July 30 — 10am – 12:30pm Research shops

Jane Ashton said on Facebook she is aiming to organise for a meeting in Kangaroo Ground “as this is where people who care live”.

Narelle Campbell, from the No Rural Link group who have started the social media hashtag #buildthelinkbutdontsplitthewedge are opposing the road passing through the Green Wedge.

Ms Campbell thinks the sessions are “a great opportunity for our communities to engage with NELA face to face in a reasonable, evidence based, informal and passionate way”.

More formal information, engagement and feedback sessions are planned once corridors are identified and announced in August.

The North East Link Authority are not going to have an easy time ahead of them north-east Melbourne seems to find itself in a situation where most people want the link but very few want it anywhere near them.