July 2019 Newsletter

Welcome to our new Tree Society committee members

The society has gained the services of two new committee members Dianne Tribe and Brad Baker – both Life Members of the society.

Dianne has taken on the role of Membership Secretary and Brad is our new Treasurer.

As stated in our February newsletter long-term committee member and Treasurer Mary Crouch has moved out of Whitehorse and will end her committee responsibilities soon. Mary’s contribution to the tree society committee has been crucial over the past 12 years as minute secretary and treasurer.

 A Celebration of Les Smith’s Involvement in the Tree Society and the Society’s 60th Anniversary

 A joint celebration of Les Smith’s contribution to the natural landscape in Whitehorse and the society’s 60th anniversary has been scheduled for Sunday 10 November 2019 at the Blackburn Triangle on the corner of Blackburn and Canterbury Roads.

Committee members are liaising with council on the details, but the event will probably be held in the afternoon and will include a commemorative planting in the Triangle.

Once the planning has been finalized tree society members and Friends will be sent formal invitations so at this stage please put the event and date in your diary.

Success!

12-Month Extension of Interim SLO9 Tree Controls Achieved with Permanent Citywide Controls to Follow by 30 June 2020

As you will recall, in December 2018, the Victorian Minister for Planning, the Hon Richard Wynne MP applied a 6-month extension (until 30 June 2019) for council’s temporary citywide tree controls (via Significant Landscape Overlay No. 9).

During the intervening period Council has prepared and presented a case to the Minister for making the SLO9 tree controls permanent.

With the 30 June deadline fast approaching an urgent email was sent to all Members and Friends of the society to contact the Minister for Planning, the Hon Richard Wynne, MP, and local MPs and advocate for permanent SLO9 tree control provisions throughout Whitehorse.

And our membership has responded exceptionally well, along with other community groups and individuals, such that a further 12-month extension of the interim tree controls has been granted. The extension to the interim controls via Amendment C223 was gazetted and came into effect before the lapse date of 30 June

This will enable Council to prepare and exhibit a planning scheme amendment to convert the interim Significant Landscape Overlay Schedule 9 (SLO9) into permanent citywide tree controls which will be known as Amendment C219.

Presentation to Whitehorse Council on the Draft 2019-20 Budget by the Tree Society

Tree society President David Berry made the following draft Budget presentation at the 11 June Whitehorse Council meeting. A comprehensive written submission was forwarded to council in May on this issue and the submission can be sourced here.

‘Thank you for the opportunity to make a presentation on the 2019-20 Budget.

Firstly, congratulations on a number of Budget items including:

  • $500,000 for the implementation of the Municipal Tree Study including the introduction of city-wide permanent Significant Landscape Overlay provisions.
  • $60,000 for the Significant Tree Assistance Fund
  • $1.13M for strategic land acquisition

 However, the society is critical of the draft Budget in a number of areas:

  1. The long-term funding freeze for the Whitehorse Street Tree Program
  2. The need for Council to more vigorously manage its Public Open Space Reserve Fund
  3. No specific funding for the implementation of Council’s Urban Forest Strategy
  4. The ParksWide 2019-20 Budget allocation.
  1. The Whitehorse Street Tree Program

Funding for the program has stagnated for over fifteen years.

Many residential streets have less than half the desired number of street trees.

Street tree program expenditure from 2003-4 to 2018-19 was ~ $4.2M. or $300,000 per year.

This $300,000 figure remains unchanged in this Budget.

In the same period Council spent around $4.5M on the Box Hill Gardens alone and over $50M on Box Hill Aqualink.

This funding shortfall needs to be rectified as a matter of urgency.

  1. Whitehorse Council’s Public Open Space Reserve Fund

Council needs to manage this Fund more vigorously and effectively.

There is around $40 million in the Fund and council has allocated $1.13M for strategic land acquisition and ~ $2M for landscaping at the Nunawading Hub in the Budget.

It is good to see funding for landscaping at 21 Wattle Valley Road Mitcham – a residential property that was purchased by council via the Fund in 2012.

But why has it taken 8 years to convert this land into a strategic open space link?

Box Hill is the most neglected area for open space in Whitehorse.

Council needs to purchase the historic Box Hill Brickworks site via this Fund, clean it up and develop the land as a major regional park that encompasses Surrey Dive, Surrey Park and Aqualink Box Hill.

  1. The Whitehorse Urban Forest Strategy

This Strategy will guide the city’s tree management in the future.

The urban forest encompasses all trees throughout the municipality irrespective of location or ownership.

 Existing tree canopy cover is 22-26% however 30-40% canopy cover is needed before the full benefits of an urban forest can be achieved.

Council has set a target of at least 30% canopy cover by 2030 but to achieve this Council needs to prioritize the strategy and provide financial resources in the Budget now.

However, there is no line item in the Budget supporting the strategy, the conclusion being that ParksWide, the department managing the project, must find the resources from their existing Budget.

This is not good enough, and the Tree Society calls for more specific funding for this important project.

  1. ‘ParksWide’ Department Funding

ParksWide maintains the city’s parks, gardens and sports fields and has been chronically underfunded for years.

A Table in the Tree Society submission demonstrates that the ParksWide Annual Budget allocation is lagging well behind other departments delivering services to the Whitehorse community.

For example, over the past five years the ParksWide budget has increased by 20.3% or 4% per annum.

By contrast, the budget allocation for Executive Management has increased by 58.5% or nearly 12% per annum for the same period!

Executive Management includes the council costs for the offices of the CEO and General Managers.

This shortfall in budget funds for the city’s parks and open spaces needs to be urgently addressed by Council and ParksWide must at least keep pace with other departments in funding increases into the future.

In conclusion, the tree society asserts that Council enthusiastically supports the funding of ‘big ticket’ items to the detriment of our parks, open spaces and streetscapes.

The big disconnect is that council-sponsored resident surveys emphasize that walking, cycling and enjoying the city’s parks are the most popular outdoor activities enjoyed by the majority of Whitehorse residents.

Unfortunately, this is not reflected in the Budget.

Whilst there are generous funding allocations for sporting pavilions ($11.47M), the Morack Golf Course ($1.7M), The Nunawading Hub ($19.19M) and the Whitehorse Centre ($3.26M), the city’s natural landscape remains in budgetary limbo.’

‘The Age’ Newspaper Article 16 June 2019 – ‘Melbourne councils join forces to fight North East Link (NEL)’

(See also the tree society article in this newsletter regarding the tree society submission to NEL on the NEL Environmental Effects Statement and the negative impacts of NEL in Whitehorse).

It is very encouraging to read that three councils (Banyule, Boroondara and Whitehorse) have joined forces in opposition to the construction of the North East Link within their municipal boundaries.

To quote from the article:

‘Three Melbourne councils have formed a rare alliance to fight the $15.8 billion North East Link project in its current form, saying it poses unacceptable ecological risks.’

The article can be sourced via the following weblink:
http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/melbourne-councils-join-forces-to-fight-north-east-link-20190615-p51y28.html?btis

The Tree Society urges our Members to speak up in opposition to the NEL project.

It will not only cause severe environmental damage in our municipality but will also result in traffic chaos by transferring the existing traffic issues from Rosanna and Bulleen to Whitehorse.

Notify the NEL Authority about your opposition to the project (and you can use some of the information provided in the next article on NEL if you wish):

If you want to escalate your feedback to a complaint, you can lodge your comments by the following means:

North East Link Project Environmental Effects Statement – Submission by the Tree Society

The Tree Society made a detailed submission on the North East Link (NEL) Environmental Effects Statement (EES) in June and has accepted an invitation to make a presentation at the Planning Panels Victoria hearing scheduled from July through to September this year.

The full submission is available for perusal on this website

There were over 850 submissions on the NEL Project EES!

The NEL Project Inquiry and Advisory Committee Hearing will be held from July to September at the Veneto Club, Bulleen Road Bulleen.

David Berry from the Tree Society will be making a presentation at the hearing on Wednesday 4 September from 2:40 pm for 30 minutes.

A short summary of the Tree society Response to the NEL Project EES

 The society considers the NEL project to be one of the most important and destructive issues facing the Whitehorse community and urban environment and will do little to alleviate motor traffic issues in Whitehorse – indeed it has the potential to make them far worse.

The construction of the North East Link and associated works on the Eastern Freeway will negatively impact all linear parks, open spaces, waterways and shared use paths abutting the freeway. Increasing freeway width will require the destruction of adjacent parklands and open space on both sides of the freeway from Bulleen Road through Mont Albert North, Box Hill North, Blackburn North, Nunawading and Mitcham.

Tens of thousands of trees and shrubs in the freeway reserve will be destroyed to make way for bitumen surfaces.

Gridlock will be the ultimate effect on the major north-south roads in Whitehorse. These roads are all currently at or near ‘overcapacity’ at peak periods. Major road-widening will be needed to cope with the projected explosion in traffic volumes on Elgar Road, Station Street, Middleborough Road, Surrey/Blackburn Road and Springvale Road.

A summary of the environmental destruction as detailed in the EES:

  • 52 hectares of indigenous vegetation will be destroyed including: 104 large trees within patches of native vegetation, 190 scattered native trees (75 large trees and 115 small trees), an undocumented number (probably in the tens of thousands) of indigenous shrubs, native grasses and ground-storey plants and 32 large scattered lost due to groundwater drawdown
  • 15,800 planted trees will be removed to construct the North East Link and an additional 10,100 trees will ’potentially’ be affected (which is ‘project speak’ for probable removal). Most of these trees are young, mature trees only 20 years old
  • The project requires the permanent acquisition of 182,300 square metres of open space and recreational areas across the municipalities of Banyule, Manningham, Boroondara, Yarra and Whitehorse. For the Eastern Freeway section these parklands are located mainly as linear parks on the perimeter of the existing freeway.
  • Due to the massive widening of the freeway in Whitehorse, there will be little open space remaining and thus no opportunity for replacement plantings between existing residences and the freeway
  • The Bolin Bolin Billabong in Bulleen, an important Koorie ceremonial meeting and camping place, may lose half a metre of its water depth as a result of the freeway construction. This would drain the billabong almost entirely and destroy its ecological and cultural significance
  • One of Melbourne’s most significant trees, the large, 300-year old River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) on Bridge Street in Bulleen will need to be cut down to construct the Manningham Road interchange. The tree recently won the 2019 Victorian ‘Tree of the Year’ award sponsored by the National Trust of Australia (Victoria). It needs to be saved at all costs
  • The project has ‘the potential to impact’ 14 Aboriginal cultural heritage places from the M80 Ring Road, adjacent to Bulleen Road and along the Eastern Freeway from Bulleen Road to Springvale Road
  • Air quality will diminish due to higher traffic volumes along the Eastern Freeway
  • A number of public open spaces used for active or passive recreation will be required for full or partial temporary occupation including the Eastern Freeway Linear Reserve, Koonung Creek Linear Park, Koonung Creek Reserve and Koonung Reserve
  • There will be seven large construction compounds between Bulleen Road and the Eastern Freeway that will collectively take up over 17 hectares of public open space, parks and sporting reserves
  • Three kilometres of water flowing through two separate creeks, the Koonung Creek (1.6 km) and Banyule Creek (1.4 km), would be diverted and turned into drains
  • The NEL project will require the compulsory acquisition of 36 residential properties across the North East Link corridor. These properties would be located in the suburbs of Macleod, Yallambie, Greensborough, Watsonia and Bulleen
  • There will be permanent land acquisition or temporary occupation of properties affecting 102 businesses
  • NEL construction works will negatively impact the road and traffic network for a period of seven years
  • Once the North East Link is operational it is predicted that traffic volume increases will occur on the arterial roads south of the Eastern Freeway (especially Elgar, Surrey/Blackburn, Middleborough and Springvale Roads)
  • Over-dimensional vehicles and vehicles carrying placarded loads will be prohibited from entering the NEL tunnels at Bulleen. This begs the question as to how these trucks will travel between the north east and east/south east of Melbourne once the NEL is operational. Presumably it will be via the existing major arterial roads. Wasn’t one of the major justifications for the construction of the North East Link to remove large trucks from clogging up our suburban arterial roads?

Box Hill Metropolitan Activity Centre (BH MAC)

The society made a comprehensive ‘Have Your Say’ survey submission as part of the community consultation process for the review of the Box Hill MAC. The submission isbe  available here.

A number of council-initiated Stakeholder Reference Group (SRG) meetings have been held this year to review the Vision of the Box Hill Metropolitan Activity Centre (BH MAC).

The tree society didn’t get a guernsey on the SRG but Geoff White from the Combined Residents of Whitehorse Action Group (CROWAG) is a member and has been providing regular reports to CROWAG meetings.

The most up-to-date news is that the consultants have developed a detailed Analysis and Options Report that has been submitted to Council.

At the 27 May council meeting it was resolved to release the BH MAC Analysis and Options Report for consultation with the community. The report is available online at the Whitehorse Council Agendas and Minutes webpage. Individual chapters of the Analysis and Options Report are also available for downloading:

The upcoming community consultation is the final part of Phase 1 of the project. The next phases will seek to update the existing Structure Plan and prepare an urban design framework. There will be further consultation after these documents have been delivered to Council.

Current Planning Issues

The society has made submissions in response to a large number of planning applications that would require substantial tree and vegetation loss/damage or include landscape planting plans that are deficient.

A synopsis of the current planning issues follows:

  • 1-3 Naughton Grove Blackburn– Planning Consultation Forum 19 March. Council subsequently refused the application. The issue remains re the large tree that was severely lopped on the street frontage at the NW property boundary
  • 203 Canterbury Road Blackburn– VCAT Hearing 27-29 March. TS, SLOG and BVRG made presentations along with council. VCAT subsequently ordered in favour of the applicant
  • 14 Dickens Street Blackburn– Planning Consultation Forum in March. Officer’s report to council next week. Report publicly available on Wednesday evening 10 July.
  • 11 Gissing Street Blackburn South– Planning Consultation Forum 2 April. Permit granted with amendment to reduce impingement of works on the large tree in the front garden
  • 124-126 Blackburn Road Blackburn – Community planning meeting (Mike Taafe, BVRG) on 15 July, VCAT Compulsory Conference 19 August and VCAT Hearing 8-10 October. TS has lodged SOGs and will present at VCAT opposing the development due to the associated massive tree and vegetation loss

NB: There is a clash with the VCAT hearing for the 42-48 Glenburnie Road Mitcham development.

  • Morton Park car park upgrade – Council has responded to TS’s concerns about the works impinging on tree TPZs. Council has modified works to limit tree root impacts.
  • 10 Eustace Street Blackburn– VCAT hearing 10 May with WCC, BVRG, BDTPS and local residents presenting to oppose the ‘Big Shed’ development and loss of trees.

No VCAT finding published as yet.

  • 42-48 Glenburnie Road Mitcham – VCAT hearing scheduled for 7-11 October 2019. TS has submitted SOGS (December 2018) and will make a presentation opposing the development due to the associated massive tree and vegetation loss

NB: There is a clash with the VCAT hearing for the 124-126 Blackburn Road Blackburn development.

  • 18 Glen Ebor Ave Blackburn – TS submission (18 April) objecting to the construction of four double-storey townhouses with the virtual moonscaping of the site. Council subsequently refused the application.
  • 25 Holland Rd. Blackburn South –the applicant is seeking a review of the development permit conditions at VCAT. The hearing is scheduled for 23-24 September 2019. TS has lodged SOGs and will present at VCAT opposing the development due to insufficient open space for canopy tree replacement.
  • 199 Canterbury Rd. Blackburn – Plans still with council. Site meeting (14 May) with Di Tribe and Ray Zhao and meeting (17 May) with council planner Patrick Sutton and Ray re fate of indigenous trees. The trees will be retained.
  • 245-247 Canterbury Rd. Blackburn – Officers’ report to council this week. TS concern is that there is insufficient space for replacement canopy trees as required in the WPS. Issues with building bulk and parking also. Report publicly available on Wednesday evening 10 July
  • 43 Laburnum Street Blackburn – TS submission to WCC opposing tree removals with development proposal
  • 214 Canterbury Road – TS submission to WCC opposing the proposed development with tree loss and tree root damage
  • 201 Canterbury Road Blackburn – TS submission re medical centre development forwarded to WCC

The Blackburn & District Environment Protection Fund (BDEPF)

The Fund, sponsored by the tree society, supports conservation activities and environmental education programs in Whitehorse.

Committee meetings have been held in February, April and July this year.

Ex-tree society committee member Mary Crouch has resigned from the BDEPF committee. As it is a requirement for two tree society committee members to be on the Fund committee, David Berry will remain as the permanent tree society representative with the second position to be rotated between Anne Payne, Brad Baker and/or Dianne Tribe depending on availability.

Donations are regularly made in support of the environmental education programs for primary school children at Blackburn Lake Sanctuary and Yarran Dheran.

In addition, a number of local groups will be approached this year and offered small environment grants for on-ground environmental works.

Contact David Berry for further details.

Donations can be made by:

  • Completing and sending a cheque to the fund at the following address:

BDEPF, PO Box 210, Blackburn, VIC 3130

The fund’s web-site address is http://blackburnenviro.wordpress.com/

The Combined Residents of Whitehorse Action Group Inc. (CROWAG)

Email – crowag.inc@gmail.com

Webhttp://www.crowag.com

Since March 2019, CROWAG, of which the Tree Society is a foundation group member has been busy:

  • Guest speaker, Ian Hundley, a sustainable transport and planning campaigner, gave an interesting and lively talk on a number of important issues at the group’s May meeting. His topics included highlighting the shortcomings of Melbourne’s public transport network, the scourge that is the North East Link, the planning shortfalls with the Box Hill MAC and planning issues in the municipality of Boroondara where he resides
  • The new local MP for Box Hill, Paul Hamer, has accepted an invitation to speak at the August CROWAG meeting
  • CROWAG reps have had a number of meetings with senior Whitehorse Council staff and Councillors on a range of planning issues
  • Geoff White has been active member as the CROWAG representative on the Box Hill Metropolitan Activity Centre Stakeholder Reference Group which is currently reviewing the Vision for the Box Hill MAC
  • Letters have been sent to the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) seeking their support to lobby the state government to set more substantial fines for the illegal removal of trees on private property and to highlight the unintended consequences of the VicSmart fast-tracking planning permit process for the removal of single trees from private properties
  • Advocacy for the extension of the interim SLO9 tree controls for Whitehorse and active support for the controls to become permanent via amendments to the Whitehorse Planning Scheme
  • The draft position paper on Green Notices for Building Sites has been finalized as well as a mock-up Green Notice and a letter to the Mayor Cr Bill Bennett seeking further discussion, feedback and support. The plan is for the Green Notices to be located on the front boundaries of development sites during the planning and building stages of the development. The notices are designed to provide useful information to the public on trees and vegetation to be retained and removed and details of replacement planting of trees and other vegetation once completed.

Tree Society History – Fighting for the Trees

Only a few copies of the history book remain. Fighting for the Trees – the story of the Blackburn & District Tree Preservation Society is available at $25 per copy for tree society members and $30 for non-members. Please contact David Berry on 0413 457 184 or email bdtpsociety@gmail.com for orders. An extra charge of $10 for postage is required.

Tree Society Meeting Times

The tree society committee meets every 2nd Wednesday of the month from 2-4 p.m. in February, March, May, July, September and November. General meetings are scheduled for June and October. The AGM is held (as always) in November.

The location is Bungalook Nursery in Fulton Road Blackburn South.

Tree society members and the general public are most welcome to attend tree society meetings.

COMMITTEE

President                                                    David Berry.              9890 7915 or 0413 457 184

Secretary                                                     Anne Payne                              9878 1152

Treasurer                                                    Brad Baker

Membership Secretary                             Dianne Tribe

Committee Member                                   Ann Clayton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If undeliverable, please return to Blackburn & District Tree Preservation Society, PO Box 5,

Nunawading, 3131.

Inc. no. A15207B

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