Report on December 6, 2017 council meeting

Future of open space on Merri Creek @ Fawkner
A parcel of land at 104B McBryde St Fawkner and on the Merri Creek has been declared surplus by VicRoads and is being prepared for sale. After a high level of agitation from local Fawkner residents, Friends of Merri Creek and the Merri Creek Management Committee, the council is now re-examining options for retaining the site as open space for the local community and for the health of the creek.

There is a problem with government authorities selling off public land along Melbourne’s waterways, including Merri Creek and Moonee Ponds Creek. The campaign to save this open space in council has made council more aware of the need to save the land. I participated in a walk along the creek that was hosted by the Fawkner Residents Association, which really dramatised why this land should not be built on.

Draft Aquatic & Leisure Centre Strategy – the future of our swimming pools
Council is currently consulting on a new Aquatic & Leisure Centre Strategy, which will determine the future of Moreland’s swimming pools. The link for how to make a submission is here.

After some informal discussion on council about closing the Pascoe Vale pool, local residents got organised to make clear to councillors that the pool is vital to the local community. Their actions have caused council to back off from any proposal to close the pool. With the high level of medium development in the area meaning that many residents don’t have back yards, and swimming pools being a vital way for people to get cool during the summer heat, it is important that council is now recognising the role of the pool.

A park close to home
After a lot of agitation from residents in the areas which are suffering the biggest impact high density development, council has adopted a better framework for deciding where to spend money to create open space. Priority will be given to areas that are lacking in open space and have a high level of development.

Heritage gaps
After a great response from Moreland residents nominating dwellings to be considered as heritage, the council will exhibit a planning amendment which includes the nominated places, as soon as it gets permission from the state planning minister. Council is proposing to add 95 individual heritage places and 4 new heritage precincts.

Fast tracking of development proposals deferred
A proposal from Greens councillor Dale Martin to consider a new new fast track process for high quality development applications was deferred. I am opposed to any fast-tracking of development applications, because fast-tracking always comes at the expense of residents’ right to object. I believe that the objection process is an important safety valve to make sure that council doesn’t make bad decisions. The local knowledge of residents who will be affected by development applications is vital. You can even have so-called good development which can have certain negative consequences. The objection process means that residents have a chance of persuading council to require developers to fix these issues.

NDIS and future of council’s child respite care
Moreland council is in the process of deciding on the future of its child respite care as the National Disability Insurance Scheme rolls out in Moreland. I am opposed to council dumping the respite care, especially as not all people currently receiving state or council services  will be eligible for the NDIS. Many people value the council service with long-term permanent carers, unlike the private services where a different carer arrives each time because of the highly casualised nature of the service.

New General Local Laws adopted
The new General Local Laws have been adopted. The new laws improve the rights of residents re construction sites. I also worked with the local community to oppose draconian local laws which would have meant that you would need a permit to hand out a leaflet or do a community stall. This would be very onerous for local community groups that might develop spontaneously around development issues or open space issues, and would preference long established groups. As a result of the campaign, we managed to get the council to drop the proposals for permits for community stalls and busking.

Use of poisonous chemicals for pests and weeds
There is an increasing body of knowledge about the harmful impact of glyphosate (Roundup) on people and insects. Workers who spray Roundup are at risk as well as people who uses spaces where Roundup has been sprayed. I moved a motion for council to consider options to phase out Roundup after it has completed the trial of alternatives to Roundup. People who want to go on the “No Spray Register” need to contact council.