You are here

Resident outrage: Profligate Brimbank Council attempts public land-grabs

Overspending Brimbank City Council is trying to sell off 14 - yes, fourteen- parks and open space against the reasonable objections of Brimbank Residents, who they are supposed to serve. Have you ever heard the like? How dare they? If other Victorian fail to stand up to support the residents of Brimbank on this, such processes could be normalised - and we will all be living in a concrete wasteland, not just Brimbank residents. For some history of Brimbank profligacy and corruption, see ""Local Government Corruption & Brimbank: focus too narrow says Marilyn Canet" See also www.protectorsofpubliclandsvic.com.

Yet another issue of democracy and environment in Melbourne

"In June Brimbank residents heard of plans to sell "surplus land" i.e. 14 parks/open space by the cash strapped Brimbank City Council (now administered by "Administrators" since the Brumby Government sacked the Councillors.) Since then residents have conducted a great campaign to oppose sale of their parks," writes Julianne Bell, of Protectors of Public Lands Victoria (PPL VIC).

"We urge you to support residents of the Western suburbs to help save their parks. PPL VIC members will remember the appalling plan advanced by Corangamite Shire Council several years ago to fell the avenue of 100 year old 550 elms along the main street of Camperdown (plus elm avenues in surrounding streets.) . The CEO at the time was a Mr. Paul Younis. Mr. Younis is now the "general manager for infrastructure and environment" in Brimbank advocating the sale of parks. Need we say more!"

Which public spaces and natural areas are threatened?

The proposed sale of “Surplus Land” under Section 189 Local Government Act 1989, involves the following open spaces and parks across the municipality, particularly the 14 sites at:

• Trickey Avenue, Sydenham
• Kealba Pre-School, Kealba
• 16A Cobb junction, Sydenham
• 3A Lewis Court, West Sunshine
• 8 Vasa Place, Keilor Lodge
• 66-77 Nordic Avenue, Keilor Lodge
• Stevenage Crescent, Deer Park
• 7A Patterson Avenue, Keilor
• Ulmara Place, Keilor Downs
• 2 Zagreb Court, Keilor Downs
• 147 Alfreida Street, St Albans
• 10-12 Marchant Crescent, West Sunshine
• McCourbrie Avenue, West Sunshine
• Cohuna Court, Taylors Lakes

What these sales will cost the community if they go ahead

These properties are publicly owned open spaces which are well utilised by local residents who enjoy the open space/parks for “passive” recreational purposes and socialising. The parks provide safe recreation areas for residents including children and the elderly. There is an epidemic of childhood obesity in Victoria – one third of children are overweight or obese. It is discriminating against the children of the Western suburbs to remove their accessible neighbourhood play areas. The sale and “development” of park land will mean high density housing (units) which will over-shadow and overlook established neighbours. Elderly people need natural spaces too, to maintain health and to socialise. Sale and "development' of such areas will lead to over parking of local streets and an increase in local traffic. This will mean a general decline in residential amenity. Given the rapid increase in population in the Western suburbs, Commissioners should be significantly increasing areas of parkland in the municipality not selling it off. Increasing population density and activities where parkland once was will cause additional stress on already over the already strained local infrastructure and services.

Residents have made passionate statements in defense of these parks, some of which have been reported in the mainstream press, here and here.

What you can do to stop this public land-grab

Write to Mr Peter Lewinsky
Chair, Panel of Administrators
City of Brimbank
PO Box 70
Sunshine 3020
Email: PeterLE [AT] brimbank.vic.gov.au

Tell him what you think. Use this article to help you form your comments.

Please also send a copy to us (by, for example, posting a comment to this article) and to Protectors of public Lands (Victoria) Inc by e-mailing jbell5 [AT] bigpond.com .

Comments

Any land without human structures, such as buildings, roads or other infrastructures, is now considered "vacant" or "ripe" for developments. With people being forced to "choose" higher density living, more families will be cooped up in box-like apartments with little playing areas for children. This will lead to obesity, depression, diabetes, lack of connection with the natural world, and addiction to electronic entertainment.

The more people live in high density areas, the more they will need all this "surplus" land for recreation and its aesthetic and environmental values.

Urban sprawl is a great consuming monster, threatening our green wedges, parklands, coastal areas, and outer urban bushland - remnant wildlife habitats.

Once populations expand beyond their optimum levels of saturation, the fallout ends up in negative returns.

Contrary to planning being about ensuring our liveability and housing affordability, it now means forcing more "developments" and eroding our quality of life.

The Victorian Environment Assessment Council today released its report on public land in metropolitan Melbourne. It is not a surprise to learn that public space per capita is decreasing because of population growth. Pressure on public land comes through additional population and the requirements for schools, hospitals and community facilities etc. Melbourne's population in 2010 was 4.08 million and according to the report expected to rise to well over 5 million even 5.7 million by 2031 and that existing public open space highly prized by communities will need to be protected and new open space will need to be provided to meet the needs of the growing population. It will be interesting to read how this latter can be done. The report noted that many of those who provided submissions expressed fears that open space would be lost to development for an ever growing population. It is such a pity that something so important to people's health and well being as public land is not only placed in jeopardy , but will almost certainly accessibility will certainly deteriorate because of population growth which we do not have to have.

Jenny Warfe writes:

Denying Melbourne's citizens the ability to play with kids, own pets and enjoy the outdoors because of "population pressure" encroaching onto the city's cherished public open spaces is not planning but about caving into market forces.

Our population growth is not inevitable, or something that our government is forced to pro-actively plan for. It's decided and imposed on us through economic immigration levels, and an unrealistic economic model based on perpetual growth.

Once growth continues beyond optimum levels, the costs exceed the benefits and the returns are negative. It's all about greed, and the fact that Victoria has few economic activities except those that rely on population growth.

Doctors for the Environment warn about the health costs of urban sprawl, including lack of exercise and obesity. They are also concerned about rising greenhouse gas emissions from higher density living.

Planning used to be about ensuring the quality of life in our city, and protecting valuable natural buffer zones from developments. Now, it's all about forcing the public to accommodate declining lifestyles so we can accommodate 1500 new residents each week!
A response to http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/open-spaces-to-shrink-as-melbourne-grows-20110807-1ihpr.html

Pray tell,
What is "ground-breaking" about this report? It is mere propaganda telling us that we must submit to what we are trying democratically to prevent. (See below).

The Age is to be condemned for its supine reporting on these matters. On another forum it has been pointed out that NO letters were printed in the Age mentioning population growth as an avoidable factor driving this misery for Melbourne

"A ground-breaking report released today by the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council warns that public open space, such as local parks, gardens and public golf courses will have to cater for communities swelling by more than 1500 new residents a week.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/open-spaces-to-shrink-as-melbourne-grows-20110807-1ihpr.html#ixzz1UVyhwlnJ
"

It would make more sense for people to boycott the Age and Murdoch's press and write to alternative blogs. You only make the bad guys stronger by writing in their papers. It gives them too much credibility. Melbournians have been trained like lab-rats to write letters to the paper, but the papers make money out of undemocratic growth.

On Tuesday 16 August 2011 Brimbank Council withdrew their proposal to sell 12 of the 14 proposed "open spaces" .This is a victory for the people of Brimbank who fought hard and responded with 700 submissions. In this case people power got 12/14, an indication that these open spaces are viable and valuable, to be retained in the community. Virginia Tachos, Chair of "Our Parks Not For Sale" has thanked everyone who supported the campaign. Supporters are invited to celebrate the community's victory by attending a BBQ this Sunday 21st of August from 12 noon at 7a Patterson Avenue Keilor. (Mel 14F6). Contact Virginia, Mobile 0411 333 575

The campaign is not altogether over yet because members intend to push to have the reclassification to residential returned to that of reserve or open space. Further the will be campaigning for the land to be returned rightfully to the ownership of the community. As long as the land remains a "council asset" the same problem is likely to come back to haunt the community. The group is firm about making sure these areas are retained for the benefit and enjoyment of everyone now and in the future no matter how long or what it takes.

Sources of Info: Julianne Bell, Protectors of Public Land Vic; Virginia Tachos and Graeme Elkington of Our Parks Not For Sale.

As a person who protested at the land grab by the C.o.P.P. of a heritage listed park (Garden City Reserve) in 2005 for a n.home hostel units day centre etc I congratulate your group in the successfull campaign to save your open spaces for all and not for greed and political greed.

Regards Lois Daley
19 Crichton ave Port Melb.3207. 9646 2304. 19.8.2011