Tag Archives: WCA

Volunteers make the world go round

CAN YOU IMAGINE a world without volunteers? Volunteers do so much for our community, our CFA, Food Bank, Meals on Wheels, SES, Op Shops, sporting clubs, Run Warrandyte, Neighbourhood House… they even write for the Diary. Volunteering has taken a bit of a hit during the pandemic, but local community organisations are hoping for a resurgence in volunteerism now COVID lockdown seems to be behind us.
If ever there was a time to step up and volunteer it was right now.
The Diary has put together a few suggestions to how you can help. Judy Hall from Warrandyte Rotary said the pandemic has been causing a real problem with a lot of volunteers.
“A lot of volunteers are older, and they are more worried about going into the community.” She hopes that once the pandemic is over, people might feel a little more disposed to getting out and about and helping out.
“There are so many good openings for volunteers, there is no reason for anyone to be bored,” Judy said. Lions Club, Rotary, and the Warrandyte Community Association and Doncare are among several groups in the local area that rely on volunteers to help people in the community through fundraising and hands-on projects. Local community organisations are looking for people to join them to enrich and enhance life in Warrandyte for all of us. Beyond the feel-good factor of helping others, volunteering can be a great way of gaining employable skills, connect with other like-minded people — and it looks great on your CV. While service clubs like Rotary and Lions may have, in the past, been seen as stuffy old blokes meeting for dinner once a week, modern service clubs could not be more different. The fundraising and community spirit are all still alive and well, but the clubs are now much more dynamic, and project based. Gone are the obligations to attend weekly meetings, or to be a certain demographic, and while the current members are getting older, an injection of “youth” will ensure the clubs remain viable into the future. Judy said Rotary is looking for people who can help get things done.
“Things get done outside of meetings, not in meetings”. Judy said modern family life means people with young families who are working full time probably do not have the time to give to service organisations.
“So we are looking at people whose kids have got to the point where they don’t need supervision all the time, the 40–60s, or early retirees, people with a bit of time up their sleeves,” she said. Rotary has many projects that it undertakes to help the community, members help run both the Warrandyte Riverside Market and the Tunstall Square Market, as well as the Rotary Art Show.
“We are a small group, but we are very dynamic — we are risk takers, we put our hand up to do things, even if they might sound a bit way out.
“We will try things if we think they are going to benefit people in the community,” she said. Judy said Rotary has adopted a new area of focus lately and are developing projects around environmental issues.
“Rotary is getting on board with a lot of environmental projects, and it is something I would like see our club getting involved with a bit more, particularly in Warrandyte because there are so many opportunities here,” she said.
Lions Club has been part of the Warrandyte Community for almost 50 years, it provides help and support to community members in times of need, through its Op Shop and providing emergency food or other staples, like school fees or clothes. Lions’ secretary, Lyn McDonald says that those doing the helping get a lot out of it too.
“What you get out of it is the boost of knowing that you are actually helping people, which is why I think anyone volunteers, they want to help people.
“But it is also good to know that someone who is invisible can be seen and be assisted, and that is where I worry, there are all these invisible people out there who don’t know who to ask for, don’t know how to ask.” Or when disaster strikes, Lions can jump in with practical assistance, like following the Black Saturday Fires, when the club took a tool library to Kinglake to assist the community to rebuild things like fencing. Lions also runs events during the year that are designed to both provide something for both their members and the broader community. The club also works with Doncaster All Abilities Basketball, the Warrandyte Riverside Market, Warrandyte Pottery Expo, and many other community projects that enhance our community. Once a year the Lions rev it up with a day at Sandown Raceway, giving vision impaired motorists a chance to get in the driver’s seat and do hot laps of the racetrack.
“It is such a boon to so many people and so many other clubs love it and get involved — there is a real buzz about it, people love it, we have people from all over and it has been really disappointing we haven’t been able to run that during COVID,” said Lyn. A major fundraising stream for the club is the Op Shop. Lyn said the Op Shop is not just an asset for the community, but also an asset for the people who work there.
“It is a social hub, and a lot of customers come in on a regular basis, you get to know them and they find it a nice social atmosphere too.” However, as the pandemic has kept some of their regular volunteers away, the Lions are facing a challenge keeping the club, and therefore the Op Shop viable.
“It would be a real shame if we had to fold, people have busy lives and so might not have the time to volunteer, if we could get a few people under 60 it would be wonderful, we have talked to other groups, it has been a major issue overhanging us for the last few years, it is just getting less and less and falling on fewer and fewer people.
“We find we are very useful, and we want to stay useful.” Dick Davies from the Warrandyte Community Association (WCA) is on the Warrandyte Riverside Market committee, and says it is a case of many hands make light work. But at the moment, it is falling to the same people to turn up month after month.
“It is a question of just getting enough new people in, and the more people you get the easier it is, because you are not relying on the same people all the time,” he said.
“Everyone enjoys the market, and it doesn’t just happen, a lot of people put a lot of effort into it.
“It would be very nice to have a list of people we could call on now and again, and not rely on the same people all of the time.” He said the market is always looking for people to help with set up and pack up.
“It is mainly to direct traffic and make sure the cars don’t block the pathway and the stall holders, facilitating the exit, and being friendly to people.” The Market is run by a collection of community groups, North Warrandyte CFA help with the setup, while Rotary, and the WCA help with the bump in and the Lions help with the pack-up. WCA is also involved in the Warrandyte Retirement Housing Co-Operative, which has built and now operates two small retirement villages in Warrandyte. Dick said the Co-Op was started many years ago by Valarie Polley and Cliff Green. It took several years to get all the ducks in a row and the first block of five units, Creekside, went in at Harris Gully Road in 2011, and Riverside was opened in West End Road in 2019. However, Dick said many of the founding members of the committee have passed away and so they are looking for assistance in a range of different areas.
“It is a question of getting a bit more assistance right across the board, we have a formal board and we do have vacancies for board members, people don’t have to be a board member they can help on a casual basis, give advice or assistance.
“We used to have a lawyer and a bank manager, but they have both passed away, but we had legal and financial expertise on the committee, Doug Seymour is on the committee, he is a retired council engineer so he is very good on that and Andrew Yen is a developer and he has done an enormous amount.
“My concern as chairman of the Retirement Housing Co-op, is these buildings are going to be around for another 50–100 years, it is run on a cooperative basis, so we have to keep it going.
“We could do with people with general board and accounting experience, people with nursing experience, people who know about old people — it is a community thing,” he said.
Doncare Op Shops in staffing crisis
Doncare has been predicated on volunteerism for over 50 years with volunteers providing support to vulnerable families through their work as Community Support Workers, Op shop workers, Social Support volunteers, Counsellors and mentors to women recovering from family violence. Doncare CEO, Gaby Thomson said volunteer numbers in the op shops are down 30 per cent.
“We are now faced with having to temporarily close stores because we cannot staff them.
“Doncare has already suffered significant losses in revenue due to the closure of stores due to restrictions in the past 12 months,” Gaby said. Doncare relies on the revenue of its seven opportunity shops to support women and children recovering from family violence, provide emergency relief to disadvantaged families, counselling, therapeutic support groups and provide recreational activities to socially isolated seniors in Warrandyte.
“We desperately need people to volunteer as retail shop assistants in Tunstall Square, Templestowe Village and Mitcham in particular,” she said. There are shifts available during the week or Saturdays from 9:15am–1pm and 1pm–4pm.

Warrandyte faces Ring Road as Bulleen says NO to NELA

RESIDENTS FROM across Manningham descended on the Manningham Council Function room on September 25 to hear and be heard about the proposed options for the North East Link toll road which is planned to be built in the next few years.

A very vocal contingent of Bulleen residents was in attendance to show opposition to Option A which travels through their part of Manningham leaving a small group from Warrandyte drowned out by the noise from the Option A objectors.

Manningham Councillor Paul McLeish is particularly concerned the huge opposition from Bulleen residents opens up Warrandyte as the “path of least resistance”.

“If the people of Warrandyte, Park Orchards, Donvale and Wonga Park don’t raise their voice, they could end up with a very poor outcome … we will end up having Warrandyte, North Warrandyte and West Warrandyte, cut in half by a major road bridge from Beasley’s through to Stinton’s Road — taking out Aumann’s, the Baseball Park, Crystal Brook, Stinton’s Football ground and Park Orchards BMX club; wiping out millions of dollars of community facilities,” he told the Diary.

Despite following different routes in the North, both Options B and C follow the same route through the southwest of Warrandyte while Option D takes a 40km journey through Kangaroo Ground and Lilydale.

With vocal opposition for Option A and Nillumbik Council expressing their opposition to both Options C and D, odds are firming in favour of Option B, but the effect of this road on the existing network is unclear.

“I think Warrandyte is in significant risk of increased traffic because freeways induce traffic and the limited number of interchanges means that traffic north of Warrandyte will be pulled towards the Reynolds Road interchange and the Reynolds Road interchange will be a magnet for traffic from across the east, for 360 degrees around it — it will be a magnet for traffic and that traffic will seek to avoid the tolls for the tunnels so you will see traffic pouring up Springvale Road and into the Reynolds Road interchange, pouring out of North Croydon into Reynolds Road, a significant increase in pollution, they are terrible outcomes for our community,” said Cr McLeish.

Spokesperson for the Warrandyte Community Association (WCA), Doug Seymour told the Diary they have provided a range of questions to NELA, and says that to date they have had no reply.

“There seems to be an imbalance between community groups providing valuable questions to help the Authority to focus their risk management processes while NELA [North East Link Authority] is not able or is unwilling to provide the meaningful feedback required for Warrandyte…NELA is not providing the data and information for us to understand the scale of the impact of Corridors B or C,” Mr Seymour said.

Member for Warrandyte, Ryan Smith is concerned with lack of detail provided by NELA, who has “only been prepared to give limited information to our community.”

“Potential impacts include a major interchange at Tindals Road, the loss of Stintons Reserve and emissions being expelled from the planned tunnels, which will collect in the valley — this is on top of the impact on local wildlife during the decade long construction period.

“It is important that the severity of these impacts are accurately communicated to residents so they can give informed feedback to the government,” he said.

Following the public forum, Manningham Council discussed the framework of its submission to NELA. During the meeting, several motions were debated with two being adopted. Councillor Paula Piccinini from Heide Ward successfully passed a motion for Council to oppose Option A, however Cr McLeish was unsuccessful in his amendment to offer the same unqualified objection to options B and C.

“All of the effects that are proposed in Bulleen are similarly proposed in Mullum Mullum [ward]… these areas are no less sensitive than the Bolin Bolin area in Bulleen, I cannot see why we should seek to nominate losers in this proposal by selectively picking a winner in Bulleen by saying it should not have a route through it, surely we as a council can do what we are elected to do, to stand on the principals we espouse for this particular project, to protect the amenity of all residents of our city, not just the selected residents who are impacted in Bulleen, if we are going to speak against these attributes then surely that is a motion to speak against the entire proposal”, he told Council.

Manningham Mayor, Cr Michelle Kleinert told the Diary that the aim of the motion is to highlight the preliminary local issues, opportunities and concerns to NELA.

“With three of the four proposed route options going through Manningham but very limited information available to make a solid analysis and evaluation of each route. Council is also requesting NELA undertake and provide further technical information and a detailed impact assessment of each of the four corridor options, and to further engage with the community and Council on the matter”.

Cr Kleinert successfully proposed to survey of all Manningham residents to inform Council of all residents’ views, not merely the vocal activists from the Bulleen area.

“The survey will be distributed in October to hear from all members of our community that could be affected, should route option A, B or C be NELA and the State Government’s preferred route.

“The results of the survey will be shared with the Manningham community and passed on to NELA to incorporate into their engagement,” she said.

Councillor Anna Chen noted that she supported the motion to object to Option A because of the passionate representation from the Bulleen community at the Manningham forum.

“You can hear the voices from the community,” she said to councillors.

Councillor McLeish told the Diary he was disappointed that his amendment to Cr Piccinini’s motion was unsuccessful, however “I will continue to protect Warrandyte and its community”, he said.

From the outset Corridor A has seemed to be the preferred route, but significant political, municipal and community pressure is building for Corridor B to be selected.

We need to be prepared for what this means for Warrandyte.

 

North East Link Forum

A group of residents effected by routes B and C have joined together to form the North East Link Forum (NELF), the group have also submitted a formal concerns paper to NELA.

This group is deeply concerned with the impact Corridors B and/or C will have on Warrandyte, Park Orchards and Donvale if either of these Corridors is selected.

If you are interested in what NELF are doing, you can find them on Facebook.

Time to get fire-ready

SUMMER will be soon upon us and local councils, community associations and the CFA have begun their annual bushfire preparations.

Local CFA volunteers prepare for summer

By TIM KEMM

LOCAL FIRE brigades have ramped up training of new recruits ahead of the upcoming bushfire season this summer.

Brigades from the CFA Maroondah Group met at the Warrandyte Bridge last month to conduct a practical exercise aimed at familiarising recruits with some of the equipment.

The main exercise conducted was drafting, which involves pumping water out of the river into the appliances, where it is then pressurised and pumped out through the hoses to fight the fire (or in the case of this exercise — sprayed back into the river).

“What we do is whack in some drafting lines, and then with our priming pumps we get lift, so we then turn on our main centrifugal pump, and we’ve got water coming into the appliances,” said Bob Dowie, the Maroondah Group Recruits Course Coordinator.

“We can either do a fill and drop, or an appliance can remain there and be used to fill other appliances, or we can conduct a fire fight from here if we have to.

“Later on we’ll be ‘showing’ water, which means we’re just going to fire some water back into the river.”

This technique can be used to pump water out of not just rivers, but also pools, lakes and dams.

For the new recruits it is an important step they have to take to becoming operational firefighters.

These sessions also provide an opportunity for the brigades in the Maroondah group to get to know each other, as these are the people they will be working alongside this summer.

The exercise included trucks from North Warrandyte, South Warrandyte, Chirnside Park, Yarra Glen, Lilydale, Wonga Park and Coldstream. Fire authorities are predicting it to be a long, hot summer and implore local residents to stay on alert at all times.

“We really want people to be prepared as always,” said Warrandyte Brigade member Renee Bisscheroux. “Particularly in this area it is quite dangerous.”

The drafting exercise is just one component of a rigorous, 12 week course that new recruits take in order to thoroughly prepare them for the summer.

Over the next few weeks a whole range of training scenarios will be covered, sometimes it may just involve scoping the lay of the land.

“Area familiarisation is a really big thing for us,” said Ms Bisscheroux.

“While we do have maps to get to fires it’s definitely much more useful if the driver knows where they’re going or know that they can’t get the truck up this road and need to go from a different direction.

“We’ve got maybe two main roads out [of Warrandyte] and if people are trying to get out it’s going to get congested, and we’re also trying to get the trucks in the opposite direction which causes us problems,” she said.

“We’re doing a lot of training based around bushfire scenarios in the area.”

For the new recruits, a sense of responsibility to the community is a significant driving force towards volunteering for the CFA.

“I signed up because I wanted to learn the necessary skills to improve bushfire resilience, prevent bushfire and combat fire so that I can aid my community and those in need,” said Tim Benedict, a new recruit of the South Warrandyte brigade.

“The CFA is a great community organisation with incredible commitment from its volunteers and staff,” he said.

For Tayla Walsh, another South Warrandyte volunteer, it has been a valuable and worthwhile experience.

“It wasn’t until my mum and brother joined a few years ago and I got that exposure to what being a volunteer involves that I decided it was something I really wanted to do,” Ms Walsh said.

“I’ve loved it — it’s definitely been challenging and has tested me both physically and mentally, but both the recruits and the trainers are so supportive, we’ve become a real team.”

With training well and truly underway, Warrandyte residents can rest assured that local brigades will be ready to tackle whatever this summer may bring.

Will you be as safe as houses this summer?

By SANDI MILLER

LIVING IN Warrandyte is a privilege that comes with risk.

Living amongst the bush makes Warrandyte among the places most at risk of bushfire in the world.

To lessen the risk, there are actions that can be taken before the danger period, such as reducing flammable materials around your home, installing water tanks, sprinkler systems and firefighting equipment — and having a fire plan.

The CFA has said the warmer and drier than average weather over recent months, combined with the forecasts for spring, suggest that the fire season is likely to commence earlier than usual and be more active than normal.

So now is the time to ensure your family have a plan in case of bushfire, storm or other emergency events, and one of the most important things to remember when producing your plan is to decide when you trigger your plan.

CFA recommends that a severe fire danger rating or higher should be your trigger to leave — do not wait for an official warning before you leave, as you may not get one — fires can start quickly and threaten homes and lives within minutes.

Your plan should also include a plan of where to evacuate to — hanging out at Eastland might be ok for a couple of hours, but remember you may need to take yourselves, you pets, and your valuables away from Warrandyte for a couple of days if there is an extended heatwave.

The CFA urge residents to understand your risk and plan ahead. Know what to do on hot, dry, windy days and plan for all situations. Let your family and friends know your plan — what are your triggers, where you’ll go and how you will get there.

This year especially, your plan should include strategies to avoid being stuck during the roadworks on Warrandyte Bridge.

Even if you do not have to cross the bridge, the CFA warns if you wait and decide to leave after a fire has started, you risk driving your family through thick smoke, fallen trees and power lines, and face the danger of collisions, being trapped, serious injury or death.

Your fire plan also requires a Plan B, for when you get caught at home by an unexpected event — so your home should be defendable even if your plan is to leave.

Get informed Should the worse happen and your home is threatened, how can you ensure your family and your home are more likely to survive? Get as much information as you can before the fire season is upon us.

Go along to one of the CFA Open Days or attend one of the information sessions being held by local community groups.

The Be Ready Warrandyte Safe as Houses? forum, hosted by the Warrandyte Community Association (WCA) and their partners in Manningham and Nillumbik Councils and the local Emergency Response and Recovery Services, aims to answer this question.

The Safe as Houses? forum will be held at 7pm on Thursday October 26 at the Warrandyte Community Church.

The forum will explore case studies in which a house was or was not lost as a result of a fire. Justin Leonard from the CSIRO will present on different building materials and how they fare against a fire and will also look at a houses’ surroundings to give you an idea as to how best to prepare your property.

The forum will also give an overview of the upcoming fire danger period including communication and access interruptions within the area.

The community will be given the opportunity to ask questions about any of the topics raised in a panel of speakers and local agency representatives following the completion of the presentations.

Residents are encouraged to bring along your personal emergency plan as you may wish to include information that you gain from the evening.

Fire info for Nillumbik landowners

Proactive Landowners Group (PALs) will be conducting a Community Fire Awareness Program on November 19 at the Panton Hill Hall.

PALs is a group from Nillumbik who pride themselves as being “well intentioned, non-aligned landholders” who came together to dispute planning changes in Nillumbik two years ago. PALs are calling for a dismantling of native vegetation clearing regulations to remove the “archaic, draconian and overly-complicated legislation” asserting that “the process must begin afresh” with appropriate consultation.

“It needs to be collaborative process with good intent and good will,” he said.

Spokesperson for the group, Damien Crock, said “the group have come to realise that, since Black Saturday, landholders must bear some responsibility of protecting ` Shire and the State from the threat of bushfire.”

“Nillumbik Shire spreads out to the north of Warrandyte, which is recognized as the most highly populated high-fire danger areas on planet Earth,” he said.

Mr Crock says the Shire is blessed with talent from all walks of life and they have come together in PALs with “the right intent to make effective change”.

He told the Diary that the Bushfires Royal Commission key recommendations were about protecting human life “and our preoccupation is also with human safety.”

The group is therefore holding an information session to discuss fire safety and preparedness in the lead-up to what is likely to be a challenging bushfire season.

“The session can be attended by anyone in and around Nillumbik” to gain valuable information about preparing for the fire season.

The day will include guest speakers such as Neil Marshall who, with more than 50 years’ experience with the CFA, will be speaking on a number of subjects.

There is also information about preparing pets and livestock during bushfire threat.

Horse owners can also learn about the National Equine Database, an invaluable resource in the aftermath of natural disasters.

Council gets ready for fire season

With Fire Action Week kicking off from 13 – 20 October, Councils are working closely with local CFA brigades to identify and reduce bushfire risks on Council land to help improve community safety.

Nillumbik Shire Mayor Cr Peter Clarke said Council is preparing for the summer season with bushfire mitigation plans underway, this includes roadside clearing, slashing and mowing, tree management and native vegetation clearing.

“Council’s fire prevention program also includes ensuring maintenance of fire tracks, power line clearance, removing hazardous trees, clearing road sides, water tank maintenance and environmental works in our 32 reserves,” Cr Clarke said.

“This work is vital for Council to undertake but it will not eliminate our bushfire risk entirely.

“It is important for residents to have a think about their own properties and start to get them ready for summer by conducting regular maintenance of their property, including clearing long grass, timber and wood stores, gutters and drains.”

Fireball funds fire appliance

By SANDI MILLER

THE FIREBALL organising committee handed over the keys to a new slip-on unit to Warrandyte Fire Brigade. Last October’s Fireball, where 350 members of the local community gathered together for a fun-filled night at the Park Hyatt, raised over $70,000, which purchased a LandCruiser ute to replace the brigade’s old vehicle.

The slip-on unit is a four-wheel-drive ute with fire-fighting capability which enables firefighters to get to places traditional tankers would be unable to access.

The previous fourteen-year-old firefighting appliance was involved in a burn-over incident while supporting firefighters in Tasmania.

Warrandyte CFA Captain Adrian Mullens got the call from Tasmania last year saying the vehicle had been involved in a burn-over.

“My heart sank — I didn’t think my ticker could go 500 beats per minute…luckily apart from some scorch damage to the slip-on they were fine, fortunately we had an experienced crew on it, and that is paramount — there is no place for learners on a slip-on because there are only two of you,” he said.

The appliance was refurbished following the incident, however Captain Mullens believed that the 2003 vehicle was no longer providing an acceptable safety standard for fire crews.

“Having all the extra safety features in it, crew safety is something that is always top of the list,” he said.

The firefighting equipment which was replaced following the incident in Tasmania was able to be reused on the new vehicle, although supplementary donations from the Lions Club and Rotary enabled the brigade to fit out the appliance with some ancillary equipment such as winches and crew protection sprinklers.

Captain Mullens said the brigade would not have had the funds if not for the donation from Fireball.

“Fireball has just taken a huge burden off the brigade in relation to raising funds for major ticket items, so we are extremely grateful for the Fireball Committee’s efforts,” he said Jaime Noye from the Fireball Committee said while the idea that the brigades shouldn’t have to fundraise for themselves is a big part of the reason behind Fireball, it is more than that.

“It is a celebration of the firefighters and all they do for us, and last Fireball was at a time when there was a lot of uncertainty, so bringing them all together, it really did help them,” she said.

After the 2014 fires, Julie Quinton, from Quinton’s IGA, identified there was a need for local brigades to have some assistance in relation to major expenditure — trucks, generators, etc. Julie formed the Fireball Committee and then in conjunction with the four local fire captains identified the worthiest recipients — North Warrandyte were top of the list to replace its aging tanker, which was the recipient of the 2014 Fireball, then Warrandyte for this appliance.

Fireball committee member Michelle Lambert said the Fireball is only about raising money for big ticket items.

“People are still contributing from the community to the brigades in other ways,” she said.

For instance, Warrandyte Community Bank contribute $50,000 per year to our local CFAs.

“The bank also gave Fireball a grant and [when the venue was moved] they came in and put on the busses,” continued Ms Lambert.

The Fireball Committee is not resting on its laurels, it is in the process of providing a model for taking Fireball to other communities and is planning for the next Fireball event in 2019.

“When the government has a clearer idea of what the new fire service is going to look like, we can go to the community saying this is it, and this is the shortfall and this is what we are intending to do,” she said.

Warrandyte’s slip-on goes into service this week, ready for the upcoming fire season and will turn out for local incidents and be part of strike teams around the state and potentially around the country.

Taking power underground

By SANDI MILLER

COMMUNITIES in high-risk bushfire areas such as North Warrandyte could benefit from an initiative to bury powerlines, which will significantly reduce the risk to lives and property from bushfires.On February 7, 2009 Victoria suffered the deadliest bushfires in its history.

The subsequent Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission found that uninsulated overhead powerlines were the cause of many of these fires, and recommended the Victorian Government contribute towards the cost of replacing these lines, starting in highest priority areas.

Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio said after viewing the installation of 43km of underground wires recently in Healesville: “the risk this summer is very real and we’re working to ensure Victorians have the best possible protection against bushfires.”

The State Government is calling for applications from all regional Victorians interested in applying to the Powerline Replacement Fund to underground their bare-wire overhead powerlines before applications close in February 2018.

To obtain funding under the scheme, powerlines must meet the following criteria:

• is currently in active use (ie the POEL [Private  Overhead Electric Lines] must not be disconnected) — if the POEL is disconnected, the POEL owner will not be eligible for funding assistance unless the POEL has been reconnected for ongoing active use;

• is overhead and uninsulated (that is a span, or part there-of, is bare wire);

• is located in one of the PRF local government areas listed;

• is located in a High Bushfire Risk Area as designated by the Country Fire Authority.Residents of Nillumbik and Yarra Ranges could be eligible for a grant from the scheme, although property owners interested in taking part should check their eligibility at www.energy.vic.gov.au/electricity/powerline-replacement-fund.

The Manningham council area is not included in the scheme.

Bridge advisory panel walks a rocky road

An Urban Design Advisory Panel (UDAP) has been formed to represent the Warrandyte community with regards to the aesthetic elements of the works planned for the Warrandyte Bridge.

VicRoads Acting Director of Operations Metro North West, Fatima Mohamed, told the Diary that any design changes will be guided by the outcome of the Panel meetings.

“In addition to extensive community consultation already undertaken, an Urban Design Advisory Panel has been established to provide an opportunity for the wider Warrandyte community to provide feedback on bridge design, such as to the look and feel of the upgraded bridge and retaining wall and footpath finishes,” she said.

VicRoads has provided terms of reference which outline the topics the UDAP will be consulted on, including:

• Outer bridge railing (design, colour, finish).

• Bridge abutment treatment and finish.

• Footpath surface colour and treatment.

• Pedestrian movement — including possible under bridge crossing (with connections to the river trail).

• Retaining wall treatments surface and finish.

• Retaining wall pedestrian railings.

• Bollards to approaches.

• Landscape integration including replacement of the large Eucalypts which frame the southern bridge approach.

• Rock beaching to drainage outlets and batters (local rock preferred).

Panel members will be asked to provide advice and make decisions on the above topics on behalf of the wider Warrandyte community.

At the bottom of this article is an image gallery with excerpts from the presentation given by VicRoads in the first meeting.

The presentation gives details on bridge specs and the types of materials being proposed by VicRoads.

The panel is made up of a cross section of the Warrandyte community who will bring divergent views to the panel:

David Carty, John Chapman, Theresa Dawson, Geoff Flicking, Kyle Gillan, Bambi Gordon, Leigh Hearn, Jennie Hill, Jeremy Loftus-Hills and Sasha Reid.

The meetings are chaired by an independent facilitator responsible for guiding discussions to reach decisions for two to three topics at the end of each meeting.

FIRST MEETING: DOWN TO BUSINESS

A report of the initial meeting was provided to the Diary by panel member Bambi Gordon.

The meeting began with an overview of the first task for the Panel, which was to agree upon the objectives for the bridge works — and in fact the Panel itself.

It was agreed that members would evaluate all options in the area of landscaping, environmental management, bridge finishes and so on against the stated objective to achieve “a functional bridge which is sympathetic to and reflects the environments and the character of the town in the design and finish”.

Some changes had already been made (prior to the UDAP meeting) based on earlier objections received.

The primary change to the plan was the addition of a shared footpath on the eastern side of the bridge.

This then had a flow-on effect of requiring a pedestrian crossing on the northern side of the bridge to allow for people to access both footpaths from the north.

The panel were against a pedestrian crossing on the northern end of the bridge due to the potential delay of traffic during peak hours.

However, the panel was also concerned about having the pedestrian crossing on the southern end and it was generally agreed that this crossing needs to be under the bridge — whether that requires some steps down to ground level and back up to Yarra Street, or a slung pedestrian pathway under the bridge.

Both options for a pedestrian crossing at the southern end will entail the potential removal of one or two trees — a further concern for some members as was the retention of the prunus trees that could be impacted by the addition of a left hand turn slip lane on Yarra Street.

The panel ended the meeting with a number of questions for VicRoads and the bridge architect to consider.

In general, the panel were respectful of each other and though no decisions were made on the night it is the Panel’s aim to come to those decisions over the further three scheduled meetings.

Following the first meeting Kyle Gillan, who represents the WCA, told the Diary he was concerned with a comment from VicRoads engineer William Nottle.

In his introductory comments to the panel Mr Nottle noted the project intends to double the amount of traffic through Warrandyte in the morning peak.

“When [Mr Nottle was] pressed on the projected number of additional cars in Warrandyte he answered he could only comment on queue lengths and not increased traffic volumes.

“The impact on the amenity and character of the town is of utmost importance to the WCA.

“That is why the panel is helping to mitigate the broader effects of the project by ensuring we get the very best design for Warrandyte,” said Mr Gillan

SECOND MEETING: PROCEEDINGS TURN SOUR

The panel members returned to their respective groups to report on the proceedings, which initiated some heated discussion online.

Ms Gordon reported to the Diary the Facebook vitriol spilled into the second meeting, so proceedings did not run so smoothly:

The second meeting of the UDAP was in stark contrast to the first. 

Prior to the meeting commencing, one of the members demanded 15 minutes to read a prepared statement to complain about a post made on Facebook a few days earlier by another member.  

A representative from the Historical Society also addressed this same post.  

At issue for both members was that a post on the Fix the Warrandyte Bridge Facebook Group referred to them as members of the WCA – which they are not.  

The post also commented that they had been against the bridge widening. 

Again they stressed that they are not against the bridge widening.
With regard to the social media post the administrator of that group has since apologised for her assumption. 

It should also be noted, at no time did the post name any members of the UDAP.
These and many of the UDAP members still have objections to various aspects of the plan and it is unclear how they will proceed if these objections are not addressed satisfactorily.
Once the meeting commenced it very quickly went off the tracks with members wanting to make presentations and give submissions, which is outside the remit of UDAP.
The various issues discussed at this second meeting, within the nine issues that UDAP is instructed to make recommendations upon were:  landscape integration, pedestrian movement, pathway surfaces, beaching under bridge, retaining walls and new sections of bridge abutment.
Regarding “landscape integration” and “surfaces” UDAP made recommendations, but in the most part the recommendations were for further investigation.

For all the other issues UDAP has asked for further investigation.
The meeting was very heated, with raised voices and direct criticism of the VicRoads representatives.

At one point a member left (and was encouraged to re-join by one of the VicRoads Stakeholder Engagement staff).
A few of the members have since said they hold little hope in UDAP being able to agree upon recommendations for the nine design issues, that the level of vitriol and disrespect makes the process very uncomfortable.

These members also suspect there are some people who will continue to disagree simply to indefinitely delay the project.

They are also concerned that one member of UDAP has already stated quite firmly that if the changes they want are not made the bridge widening will not proceed, while another has said they will “sit here for six months” if their changes are not made.

Meanwhile, VicRoads has told the Diary the contractor has begun work in preparation to commence construction.

“We have appointed a contractor which has begun off-site works which are not tied to the planning process and we intend to commence on-site activities in the coming months,” Ms Mohamed said.

This is despite The Diary being led to believe that one member of UDAP is considering taking the matter to VCAT, which could delay the commencement of works until at least next year.

As we go to print, three members of the advisory panel are considering whether to continue with their role.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

Bridge work further delayed awaiting permits

• Contractor now known but not yet announced

• VicRoads in meetings with objectors for Manningham permit

• Nillumbik permit still stalled

WORKS HAVE still not commenced on the bridge expansion originally due to begin in April with  completion scheduled for before the start of the next bushfire season.

VicRoads has not formally announced the contractor for these works and has not replied to questions from the Diary on this or when the work will be starting.

However, the Diary has ascertained the contract has been awarded to VEC Civil Engineering Pty Ltd for $4.265M

VEC is part of the Downer group of companies and is a respected civil engineering design and construction company specialising in bridges.

Some confusion still remains on the start date for works, as planning permits have still not been approved by Manningham or Nillumbik.

William Nottle, Senior Structures Engineer at VicRoads Metro North West, stated: “At this stage, it is unlikely any works will commence until permits are granted.

“VicRoads will never conduct any work on site (or established a site for that matter) before obtaining appropriate planning approval.

“We have recently suspended site activity with our contractor in order to resolve the current planning issues,” he said.

However, in somewhat of a contradiction he continued: “In keeping with the project schedule to complete the works ahead of the next bush fire season, we have initiated works that do not require planning approval”.

Manningham received objections to the proposed planning permit from seven individuals and from the Warrandyte Community Association (WCA) .

VicRoads had scheduled a series of separate meetings with each objector on May 23 to hear and discuss their concerns.

WCA had filed a well-considered objection on two main grounds.

Firstly the applicant (a Mr Richard Francis of Abzeco Ltd) is not the owner of the land, the application is not signed by the owner of the land, and therefore the whole application is invalid and must be thrown out.

Secondly the applicant has failed to adequately address the requirements of Heritage Overlay Schedules applicable to the area.

As mentioned in the May issue, the Warrandyte Historical Society and the WCA had joined forces with a view to establishing an Urban Design Advisory Panel (UDAP) to evaluate, discuss and attempt to reach agreement with VicRoads on the materials to be used in the construction, to ensure the heritage values of the area at the south side of the bridge were considered and preserved.

They had expressed concern because the historical road alignment is being changed and widened, and the use of barriers and guardrails — similar to those recently the subject of protests in Kangaroo Ground — fences and the ugly use of grey concrete and plastic handrails do not comply with the heritage guidelines required by Manningham.

We understand at that meeting VicRoads had agreed with WCA’s proposal that this UDAP be set up.

However, the terms of reference and scope have yet to be agreed.

Most of the individual objectors spoke to the Diary on condition of anonymity.

Three objectors wanted the two tall trees  at the southern end of the bridge to be retained;  one suggested this could be done by making the cantilevered pathway go around the tree on the west side, and fill be avoided at the base of the tree on the east side with the new off-ramp being shored up with pylons or a wall constructed.

VicRoads agreed to investigate the practicality and costs associated with such additional works, but had some doubts on the ability of the budget to accommodate the increased costs involved.

One resident tabled the VicRoads-produced artist’s impression of the south side as published in the March edition and asked how the four tall trees shown in this impression were to be provided.

VicRoads confirmed they would not be there “It’s only an artist’s impression”; which the objector suggested was deliberately misleading.

As part of the discussion it became evident that, in addition to the new cantilevered shared pathway on the west side, the bridge structure will also be extended slightly out on the east side to partly move that footpath outwards.

It was also discovered the plans provide for considerable fill material on the south east off-ramp side and it was not clear how this was to be revegetated.

An objector wanted the whole issue of tree retention, flora, fauna and reforestation to be included in the scope of the UDAP, but VicRoads was adamant the UDAP restrict itself only to the construction materials.

“How can you have a design panel which does not look at the total design; the final ‘look’ of the whole project is what matters most?” asked one resident.

A recurring theme in the objectors’ submissions was they did not want the development to proceed at all on various grounds including this was a band-aid solution to a wider problem, they suggested the decision should be delayed until the route for the North East Link had been decided and the traffic flow through Warrandyte had been remodelled and the original modelling of evacuation times and improvements to daily traffic flow was fundamentally flawed.

A resident of Ringwood-Warrandyte road pointed to the stationary queues of traffic outside their house and dreaded to think how bad this would become when further traffic was attracted to the area and red traffic lights north of the bridge would cause gridlock back around the roundabout at the bridge causing even longer queues along Ringwood-Warrandyte Road in the evening peak period.

Also raised was concern the materials used and the extra fenced-off pathways might completely or partially block the view of the Yarra for passengers in vehicles.

Many comments were made on the lack of concern for flora and fauna, these included:

• “I object to the removal of indigenous eucalyptus polyanthemus, eucalyptus goniocalyx and, bursaria spinosa trees and shrub on the north east embankment of Yarra Street.”

• “The Southern Mahogany nearby should also be retained.”

• “Eucalyptus polyanthemus is already in severe decline in Warrandyte — all large trees should be retained for habitat, ecology reasons, mitigating against climate change.”

• “These works will greatly downgrade the significant river scenery.”

• “Construction of the turning lane will impact on fauna habitat and corridors, including breeding wombats and swamp wallabies.”

• “A canopy rope bridge for arboreal fauna must be included, as must a pipe to enable wombats to cross under Kangaroo Ground Road at the north end of the Bridge.”

• “Kookaburras, wood ducks and sulphur crested cockatoos use hollows in other beautiful large eucalyptus trees a few metres below the embankment nearer the river.”

• “These trees will also be at risk from the proposed works due to root damage, changes to the water table, possible introduction of harmful fungi, etc.”

• “All the trees in the vicinity of Warrandyte Bridge require protection — measures must be taken to minimize impact.”

• “The character of unique and historic Warrandyte, prized by artists past and present is irreplaceable.”

• “To what extent have the Wurundjeri Tribe Council Elders been consulted about these works?”

• “So much lost — heritage, wildlife safety, access and habitat, pedestrian safety at an already difficult intersection, liveability through increased traffic volumes — for little, if any, gain.”

A number of these comments, whilst being very valid, are outside the scope of Manningham to determine in direct relation to the planning laws.

However WCA’s first and primary objection on the grounds the application as submitted is invalid in law will be difficult for Manningham to disprove and it is hard to see how they could grant a permit to an invalid applicant.

We await with interest to see if Manningham planners will hold off making a recommendation to councillors until the UDAP has been formed and its scope agreed and findings released.

We asked WCA to comment on their meeting with VicRoads and formation of the UDAP, but they declined to comment.

North side of the bridge

In terms of progress not much has happened.

The planning permit application was lodged with Nillumbik on April 3.

A site inspection was carried out by the council planners on April 27 following which a letter was sent to VicRoads requesting more information, Nillumbik are still awaiting VicRoads’ reply.

When that is to hand the matter will progress to the “advertised” status, which will involve a notice being posted and the public then given 14 days in which to make submissions or objections.

We await further progress with interest.

Pigeon Bank planning goes to VCAT

Community groups and neighbours join forces to try and appeal planning approval

FOLLOWING on from last month’s story on concern over a proposed development at 2 Pigeon Bank Road in North Warrandyte, several parties have appealed this matter to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

Warrandyte Community Association (WCA) has joined forces with Friends of Nillumbik and the Green Wedge Protection Group to request a review by VCAT of the decision by Nillumbik Council to approve the planning application.

In addition, it is understood that the original objector, a neighbour, and a number of other nearby residents have lodged similar appeals.

One of the many grounds for the appeal by those who did not originally object to the council is that neighbours and community groups had not been properly advised of the application.

A directions hearing was set down at VCAT for last Friday May 5, intended to be a quick hearing to determine whether the late applicants would be allowed to appeal.

At this hearing, the barrister for the applicant requested the matter be thrown out because there had been no objectors to the original proposal before Nillumbik Council.

He contended the neighbour had put in a submission requesting some changes, rather than an objection and that without any objector there was no case to bring to VCAT.

Much discussion ensued on whether WCA should have been notified of the application, on the standing of the other community groups and their right to join in an action, and whether the community groups and immediate neighbours would be allowed to form a single group to appeal the decision.

The VCAT member, Ms Dalia Cook, reserved her decision on all matters, this is expected to be handed down within the next few weeks.

If the action proceeds, the next step is that the parties will attend a compulsory conference at VCAT on July 6 in an attempt to reach agreement.

If this fails, the matter will go to a full hearing which is not expected to occur before September, and may take between two and four days.

Great wall of Warrandyte

IN the April edition of the Diary, we outlined the intentions and goals of the Warrandyte Community Association’s recent project, the Writer’s Wall. Its stall over the festival week- end received an overwhelming re- sponse as people of all ages and areas expressed their hopes and visions for the future of our town.

Festival-goers were encouraged to complete the thought-provoking sentence: “I want Warrandyte to be…”

WCA president Dick Davies ex- pressed the association’s gratitude for the amount of quality feedback received.

“We were blown away by the re- sponse (over 500 comments on the actual wall, many more on its virtual counterpart via social media), not only the aspirations that were left on the wall but the discussions that they generated,” Dick said.

The voices of Warrandytians and other local residents have been heard as contributions have been compiled and categorised into com- mon themes by WCA project manag- er Kim Humphris.

“A major theme was to preserve the unique quality of Warrandyte: its environmental, heritage, cultural and sporting aspects,” Dick said.

This desire for Warrandyte to remain unchanged shows the level of appreciation and respect for our town as it is. A number of other positive adjectives were also thrown around as locals hope for Warrandyte to remain a wonderful, friendly, creative, happy and healthy place to live and visit.

Conversely, many seized the opportunity presented by the Writer’s Wall to draw attention to areas needing addressing within Warrandyte. Issues concerning infrastructure, the envi- ronment, pets and animals, subdivisions, communications and politics were among those most discussed.

Traffic management was one of the most frequently raised points on the Writer’s Wall. Locals unanimously agreed that something must be done to improve the worsening bridge congestion.

Suggestions to resolve this issue include building another/widening the bridge, joining the ring road to Eastlink, discouraging non-local traffic and improving public trans- port services. Although it is difficult to determine the viability of these suggestions, the abundance of like-minded responses makes it clear that the issue must be addressed in one way or another.

Another proposal for infrastructural development was to install more bike tracks/lanes and footpaths for pedestrians. Not only would this improve safety for all commuters, but also help to promote active and healthy lifestyles.

Many Warrandytians also expressed their hopes for a fire-safe future. Although Warrandyte will always be a vulnerable bushfire area, contributors suggested practical ways to minimise the risk. These included maintaining bushscape to reduce fuel, more accessible escape routes and increased fire awareness.

This vision is on the road to be- coming a reality largely due to the WCA’s pre-existing Be Ready Warrandyte campaign. While the aforementioned traffic congestion over the bridge still poses as a problem in a bushfire situation, Warrandyte has come a long way in recent years in terms of bushfire awareness and preparedness.

Let’s hope our progress as a community continues in the right direction.

A lot of negativity towards roaming household cats was also received on the Writer’s Wall, reinforcing the rele- vance of the WCA’s proposed 24-hour cat curfew. Evidently, the project not only gave voice to new visions for Warrandyte but also reaffirmed the validity of issues currently under discussion.

Cats were not the only household pets, however, to receive a bit of flack. Conflicting opinions arose regarding dogs in public situations, such as whether or not they should be kept on a leash in populated areas. This is likely to be a contro- versial subject, but still one entitled to consideration.

Other popular suggestions included improving Warrandyte’s mobile and internet connectivity, prohibiting the subdivision of property and to be more respectful of our native environment and wildlife.

The contributions gathered from the Writer’s Wall are to be presented to the wider WCA for continued conversation. Informed by the priorities of our community, the WCA will put words into action to ensure a brighter future for Warrandyte.

The common themes and issues raised will also be focus points in WCA’s regular discussions with local councils.

Dick is positive about the potential of this inclusive project to determine a unified vision for our town.

“We’re really excited at the opportunity this gives us to develop a collective vision for Warrandyte that we can share, support and implement, in partnership with all those who help to make this a very special place.”