I acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on which I work, and pay my respects to the Elders, past and present.
Apologies for not covering the entirety of Council’s meeting this week. Instead, I’m focusing on three issues that have emerged.
The first is issue is safety lighting in East Keilor.
A motion moved by Cr Surace to install two environmentally-sustainable lights in the walkway between Keilor Park Drive and Darling Close, and six lights for Hassett Crescent Reserve, was lost with Councillors Cusack, Gauci Maurici, Marshall, Nation and Sharpe voting against the motion.
Cr Marshall moved an alternate motion to install only the lights in the walkway and carry out a municipal wide audit for the need for safety lighting. This alternative was unanimously supported.
Cr Surace said that installing lights in one section without the other was like “building a house without a roof” and that “it’s a shame we don’t complete the job and do it properly”.
The motion followed several previous council decisions on the matter. Cr Surace said “it was raised so long ago, it is now ridiculous”.
On 12 November 2019, Council unanimously agreed to undertake community consultation for lighting in Hassett Reserve and receive a report on the consultation prior to undertaking a municipal wide assessment of safety lighting. An earlier decision in June 2019 made a similar request.
In an apparent reversal of the earlier decisions, five councillors have now voted against installing lighting in Hassett Reserve despite 100 per cent of participants in the community consultation supporting the installation of lights in both the reserve and the walkway.
All three Rosehill Ward councillors as well as Cr Lawrence supported installing all lights.
The lighting in the walkway is estimated to cost $24,000 and the lighting in the reserve, $50,000.
Moonee Valley Council has told the MVBLog that $115,000 for safety lighting is included in the draft 2020/21 budget currently out for consultation.
The $115K “is expected to cover the Keilor East lighting, and an audit for municipal wide assessment for priority locations for safety lighting installation.”
Following this decision, there’s now $91,000 for the audit and one councillor said they were concerned this would all be “squandered on consultants”.
In voting against the lighting, Cr Marshall said that a relatively modest request for lighting in the walkway was expanded beyond the initial request and she was concerned costs had escalated.
“This will chew up the money in the budget on one matter. What do we do if we have other significant requests for lighting?”
She said she was concerned that the local police had not supporting the lighting and the process has been poorly handled.
Cr Sipek said the community “doesn’t ask for much” and that the request is for lighting from a bus stop through a poorly lit park from Keilor Rd. Cr Sipek said concerns about the modest costs “are outweighed by the value of people’s safety”.
A second issue at this week’s meeting was the adoption of the Green Action Plan (GAP).
The draft plan was initially presented as four separate plans in 2018 and officers have spent two years revising the plans into a single document and consulting with the Environment Advisory Committee.
While the GAP was expected to be approved without further consultation, councillors instead voted for three weeks of additional consultation to conclude on Wednesday, 17 June 2020.
In answer to a question at the meeting about which items in the GAP are funded in the draft budget, officers responded that all items marked for acton in 2020/21 and as COVID recovery items are funded in the current draft budget.
The timeline for consultation on both the GAP and budget is now as follows:
Sunday 7 June – consultation on the draft 2020/21 budget closes.
Wednesday 17 June – consultation on GAP closes.
Tuesday 23 June – budget presented to Council for adoption.
MVCC told MVBlog that “this timing allows for any amendments required in the budgeting for items in the MV2040 Action Plan – Green (GAP)”.
In October 2019, MVCC voted unanimously to declare a Climate Emergency and that MV2040 and the GAP would form the basis of MVCC’s response to the emergency.
The GAP includes 146 action items to achieve targets outlined in MV2040:
- achieve zero net emissions for our community and reduce emissions from Council operations by 95 per cent by 2040;
- achieve 30 per cent canopy cover by 2040 through enhancing our urban forest;
- divert 90 per cent of household waste and waste from Council operations from landfill by 2040;
- achieves climate resilience through supporting the community and planning a built environment that adapts to a changing climate.
The third issue that has arisen this week is the grant of $700,000 received by MVCC for to develop 177A Mt Alexander Rd, Flemington into a pocket park.
This land has a long history. Mount Alexander College tried for years to convince the Department of Education to purchase the land to cater for growth in student numbers. DET refused to buy the land for MAC.
In 2017, a proposal for a five storey apartment building (with 12 car spaces underground) was contested at VCAT by locals (I was one of the objectors). VCAT reduced the building to three storeys. The land was passed-in at auction late 2018 for $1.6 million.
In 2019, MVCC purchased the land for open space out of the open space funding. Council must only spend open space funding on land that can be a public park, or similar, for recreation or “resort”.
The land is known to be contaminated with underground petrol tanks.
Some locals have hoped the building on the site could be retained for community use – potentially as a facility for music or art. However, demolition of the building will commence imminently.
MVCC has told MVBlog “the $700,000 funding from Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning will be utilised for the design and construction of a green pocket park envisaged for the former mechanic’s workshop site”.
“Site demolition has been committed, although this is subject to disconnection of services.”
“Environmental Scientists have been engaged to identify the decontamination works that will be necessary. Once this is ascertained, we will invite tenders for the remediation works.”
It is hoped by locals that the land, on a busy and noisy corner, can still be useful for the school in some way.