Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Community Forum July 09 - overview

Improving Community Engagement and Consultation in Glen Eira

On Monday night at the Boyd Room in Carnegie Library a very successful community meeting was held with 33 participants attending.

Whilst problems in our municipality on this issue were certainly acknowledged the theme for the night was on how to identify effective solutions on which our council can improve its performance and embrace best practises.
A full summary of the discussion will be posted next week detailing these problems and solutions.

Below is a brief summary of the opening address I provided outlining my thoughts-

The expertise, opinions and experiences of the community in GE are not fully valued and appreciated.
There is a culture in the Council/Admin that says 'we know best' and those whose views differ are too easily dismisssed as a 'noisy minority' and are unworthy of consideration.

The Council seems to be run more like a company than a local governing body and that widespread cultural change will probably only happen with personal changes.
However there is some scope for positive progress in this term as I feel that the current council is more progressive than previously.

Community representatives on advisory committees should be the norm not the exception.
The council meeting processes should be changed-
to allow the gallery to address the council
councillors to have greater input into public questions
The local law draft needs to be closely looked at especially where it could constrict public engagement in the meeting process.

I also mentioned the chamber should be relocated to a far more modern room that is more condusive to community interaction!

The council website can be further improved and enhanced .

I feel these forums will become increasingly important in helping to improve and reform our council and have been heartened by the feedback so far, only 14 to go!
The next forum will be held in late September with EARLY CHILDHOOD SERVICES IN GLEN EIRA being the issue to be canvassed.

Special thanks to Rose for facilitating and for all those who attended.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Glen Eira Environment Forum held 23/7/09

With almost 40 others I attended the annual Community Environmental Forum conducted at the Town Hall last Thursday night. It was very encouraging to see such a strong attendance by a very well informed and passionate audience!

An overview of GEs Environmental Sustainability Strategy (ESS) and actions taken since last years forum was given as well as new initiatives already planned for 09/10 These included the increase of the uptake of Greenpower from 5 to 15% and the bringing forward of the energy efficiency measures refit of six key council sites- $260k allocated in this years budget.

Questions, suggestions and comments were taken from the floor and were recorded under the five sections of the EES- What was impressive was the amount of knowledge
and expertise we are fortunate to have in GE.

Participants then ranked their environmental priorities according to the issues raised. From my notes the issues that were given the highest priorities for council to address were-

-restoring natural wetlands
-increased planting of indigenous species in our parklands and reserves
-a comprehensive listing of these species to enable residents to better choose and source appropriate plantings
-continual quality training and education for council officers
Greenhouse Gas Emissions-
-increasing Greenpower
-implementation of GE Carbon Neutral policy,
-better leadership and vision from council
- more energy efficient street lighting
Waste Management-
-facilities and processes to recycle Ewaste and fluoro light bulbs and globes
Water Management-
-improved stormwater collection and usage
-installation of rain gardens
-the redirecting of rate rises to fund these programs
Information and Education-
-home energy audits and improved info to help residents reduce their carbon footprint
-wide consultation and community engagement in formulating new bicycle strategy
-improving the quality and coverage of canopy trees in GE
-acknowledgment and provision for local food grown in the community and the planting of community gardens
-stronger incentives for developers to include sustainabilty measures in new applications

The general impression I gained from those attending was that while this council is encouragingly taking some positive steps to improving its environmental credentials and deserves credit for this ,there is still a long way to go before achieving best practises in a wide range of areas.

Many thanks to Mr.Peter Waite and Cr.Nick Stailkos respectively for very abily facilitating and chairing this forum. It was pleasing to see the Mayor Helen Whiteside and Cr. Margaret Esakoff also in attendance- hopefully next year we will have all Crs there at this important forum!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

From the Chamber- COUNCIL MEETING TUES 21st JULY part 1

This was an interesting meeting largely devoted to animal management issues.
full minutes are available on link to GE website

Planning Three amendments relating to zone changes on sites in the Glenhuntly and Poath Rds shopping precincts were discussed. What was highlighted importantly by many councillors was the need for strategic planning in our retail areas throughout Glen Eira.

There was certainly a desire expressed that more planning be done on the broader issue of how our smaller shopping strips like Glen Huntly, Murrumbeena,and Hughesdale can be developed and reactivated.

I feel there should be a greater contribution by our council to the pre-planning of retail areas like this in an inclusive manner that ensures traders, residents and businesses are involved and can contribute and support changes.

Local Law New Local Laws for GE have been drafted and are available for public comment and submissions over the next 60 days, see GE website- The last review was in 2000 so this is very timely- there has been quite a number of comments recently about the inadequencies of this draft- and I would encourage public comment and submissions on improvements that can be made.

Animal Management items
a range of new measures were annouced which I felt were very worthwhile & included

-free registration for dogs or cats for the 12 mths following microchipping and desexing
-the holding of a 'pet expo' in conjuction with a Party in the Park function early next year
-waiving of the annual reg fee following certified training of dogs
and a 50% reduction on this fee for subsequent years

princess park
Item 8.11 dealt with the ongoing problem of dog faeces being left by some irresponsilbe owners at this park, particularly in the off-leash areas of the sporting grounds.

The original item on the agenda dealt with further highlighting and enforcement of the current local law, ie increased signage and issueing of notices & fines to offenders.

An alternate motion was accepted with the addition "that council would consider reccomendations provided by responible stakeholders, that assist in resolving this issue to the satisfaction of all park users"

This was a welcome addition after an initial meeting last week attended by representatives of sporting clubs, dog owners and Cr. Penhalluriack. This is the type of process that should be further encouraged!

Monday, July 20, 2009

REMINDER - Next Quarterly COMMUNITY OPEN FORUM Monday 27th July

How can local government develop effective resident participation? And what are the implications for Glen Eira?

These are the issues to be tackled in this second quarterly open forum. Please come along to help to provide some answers to these important questions:

When: Monday 27th July 7.30 pm

Where: Carnegie Library (upstairs) Boyd Room, Shepparson St, Carnegie

Many people and organisations in Glen Eira have been critical of what they have seen as Glen Eira Council's lack of commitment to effectively engaging the community. Now is the time to develop specific proposals to help Council lift its game and to work to get those proposals implemented.

This is intended to be a forum for seeking solutions. Your involvement in contributing to seeking those solutions is very welcome!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

LOCAL ISSUE - Neerim Rd Carpark M/Beena

There are many local issues in our community that can have significant impact on residents and business's alike.

For over 40 years the small carpark (13 spaces) next to the toliets at the cnr of Neerim and M/beena rds has been used by shoppers as a short term carpark-
Although small it was an important asset for shoppers(many elderly) and traders alike in an increasingly vibrant area.

Until 2007 Glen Eira Council had an ongoing lease with Victrack(the owners) for a nominal rate. In 2007 a new lease at commercial rates was offered. Council disagreed
with this change and unfortunately the lease lapsed and the site has now reverted to an all day comuter carpark. This change has become fully effective in the last 6 mths with 2hr signs removed and is hurting small business's in the area.

I have requested that Council seek to re-enter into negotiations with VicTrack for a new lease(commercial or otherwise) that would return it to short-term parking.
Officers have raised this at a meeting last week and are awaiting a formal reply.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Climate Change Our Future (CCOF) organises Public Meeting

Climate change in our community

Corner Glen Eira and Hawthorn Roads. Admission by gold coin donation
THURSDAY 6 AUGUST 2009, 7.00pm

This will be a great informative night with some excellent renowned speakers including

David Karoly
Member IPCC Panel
Member Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists
Professor, Earth Science School, Melbourne University

Andrew Lucas
Transition Towns
local solutions to climate change and peak oil

Steven Tang
Deputy Mayor Glen Eira Council

Presented by Climate Change Our Future, Glen Eira and Monash residents action group

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

from the chamber - COUNCIL MEETING 30 JUNE

While this was a meeting dominated by endorsing the budget and community plan there was also several other interesting items- here are some thoughts and comments-full minutes are on glen eira link -

Was especially pleased that there was a unaminous vote to retain the reserve near Nina Crt which borders South Rd and not sell off this well loved open space- as we all know this is a premium in GE! Cr.Magee deserves credit for his work on this.

The large development planned for the cnr of Glenhuntly and Orrong Rds incorporating Safeway was not supported chiefly because of concerns re height - three of seven level towers and traffic congestion- a more moderate proposal in the order of 4/5 storeys was deemed more suitable and I supported this refusal.
Likewise for two developments in Murrumbeena. 487 Neerim Rd has had several applications over the past few years but by a close 5- 4 vote it was considered to be still an over-development for the site which borders Riley Reserve.

2009/10 BUDGET -
Many councillors spoke in glowing tribute that this budget heralded a new 'clean and green' Glen Eira which was óver the top' but certainly there are positive initiatives in this area.

Grafitti will be addressed on a wide scale for the first time with $210K allocated for a full cleanup of GE and funds available for subsequent follow-up actions.

Greenpower uptake on council assets to be increased from 5% to 15%
-this will cost approx $30-$40K extra per year

$260K to be spent on energy efficiency measures to bring about a 20% energy reduction on six key council sites - the bringing forward of this program
to doubling expenditure in the first year was well supported by councillors and well initiated by Cr. Tang

Increased uptake of the drought resistant grasses program- this year there will be six ovals converted instead of three- Whilst water usage is high in the first year of establishment thereafter the grounds can survive well with a good playing surface in our increasing rain-deficient environment

Whilst these are all good steps forward of which I have certainly been advocating strongly for, most are modest measures as practised by many councils-and GE is encouragingly catching up on. It can be a challenge being in a conservative council!

The largest extra budget item was for GESAC of which I have spoken out of my concerns re the cost of this facility($45m) previously. In this years budget there is $14m allocated for construction costs.

CARNEGIE POOL- $200k is allocated to maintain the facility and keep it open while GESAC is being built- With no funds provided for in the Strategic Resources Plan (SRP) for a future new facility, I am concerned about the fate of this pool once GESAC is built and will continue to advocate on this issue.