Tuesday, March 30, 2010

sherbrooke school hosts sea shepherd concert

The enterprising students of the Sherbrooke Community School have organised a fundraiser to support the Sea Shepherd. The Sea Shepherd Concert and Auction is a jam packed event with performances by Anna Paddick, Kate Henderson, Athula Mamaborupodakqua and The Ineligible. An auction will be part of the night with fantastic items donated by a great range of artists and organisations. Vegan finger food will be provided.

It’s a great initiative, I encourage you to go along, I certainly will be.

If you’d like tickets please email
jcrooka@gmail.com or phone Jordan during business hours on 9755 2007.

When: 30 April, 2010
Where: Sherbrooke Community School
311 Mount Dandenong Tourist Rd

Cost: $10 – collect tickets at the door

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

more logging coupes for central highlands

report from the roundtable – 23 mar
In my role as chairperson of the Yarra Ranges Environment Advisory Committee an issue was raised by a YREAC member concerning the proposed harvesting plan amendments in VicForest’s Timber Release Plan 2010.

Once alerted to the amendments I moved the following motion:
That council forwards a submission to Vic Forests with regard to the proposed Harvesting Plan Amendments in the Timber Release Plan 2010 before the 8th April, 2010, expressing its concern about the proposed 148 additional coupes and road lines within the central highlands region.

And that copies of the submission be forwarded to The Hon. Gavin Jennings MP, Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Mr Greg Wilson - Secretary DSE, Mr Kevin Love - DSE Deputy Secretary, Public Land Stewardship and Biodiversity, Mr Michael Crutchfield MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Water & Environment Ms Tammy Lobato MP, Member for Gembrook and Mr Ben Hardman MP, Member for Seymour.

Vic Forests are currently applying for an additional 148 new couples and road lines in the central highlands of Victoria. This is a matter of some urgency as public comment is invited up to the 8th April, 2010 and that’s why I moved quickly to bring it before council.

The locations of the proposed new coupes affect the areas of Powelltown, Toolangi and Marysville. Council is already opposed to logging of Melbourne’s water catchments and in talking to the motion I raised issues around these proposed amendments to logging coupes as excessive and unsustainable.

Toolangi was hit hard by the Black Saturday bushfires yet it appears 25% of the available forest is proposed for logging in the next year or two.

The unsustainable nature of current logging of the Central Highlands is evidenced in the DSE’s Monitoring Annual Harvesting Report which shows that in the central region
there is an 87% backlog in coupe regeneration after harvesting, whilst there is a significant number of coupes that are overdue for stocking surveys. Regeneration is clearly not keeping pace with logging activities. Whilst a massive regeneration backlog exists additional coupes should not be approved. The massive backlog clearly indicates how unsustainable current logging and regeneration practices are.

With climate change, a changed lower rainfall pattern is projected. With diminished quantity and reliability of water successful regeneration of logged coupes cannot be guaranteed. Under these scenarios germination and establishment failures will be more commonplace.

The maps supplied by VicForests to indicate the proposed new coupes fail to show them alongside other coupes previously approved or about to be logged. When these new coupes are overlaid with the current coupes the amount of forest to be logged is substantial.
The proposed areas under consideration have not been properly surveyed, particularly after the Black Saturday bushfires and the extent of damage to wildlife, including endangered species, such as the Leadbeater’s Possum are unknown. The forests were significantly disturbed by the 2009 fires, time must be given to them to allow them to recover and regenerate naturally as far as possible, the compounding affects of logging these areas will create further disturbance in an already fragile environment.

Clarification needs to be sought as it appears that some of the proposed coupes include designated Special Protection Zones, where logging is not permitted.

Much work has been done on the economic recovery of these areas and it has been recognised that attracting nature based tourism activities will lead to the economic recovery of fire affected communities. Logging activities severely impact on the desirability of tourists to visit the region.

Already the water yield of the forests has been diminished in quantity and quality by the recent bushfires, logging these areas will exacerbate these water issues for decades to come. Recent research indicates that the industrial logging of wet forests has the potential to increase their susceptibility to more fires into the future.

Forests into the future will have a far greater value as a tool to mitigate climate change and play a key role as carbon sinks. Research has shown that the Mountain Ash forests of the central highlands have the highest carbon carrying capacity of any forest in the world.

Yarra Ranges is highly valued for its natural environment, it is of key importance to our community and comes up time and time again as one of the key reasons young and old alike love living in Yarra Ranges. Our natural environment attracts millions of visitors every year.

Responding to this request for public comment is an opportunity for the shire to articulate this vision and aspiration. Our forests have far more value left standing and intact than being logged for woodchips. The motion was won.

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keeping to the strategic direction

report from the roundtable – 23 mar
The Shire has spent many years consulting around our Housing Strategy, a document that details the appropriate places for increased housing densities in the Shire. The strategy was recently endorsed by council and is currently before the Minister for Planning. Two applications at this week’s meeting sought to challenge the strategic direction of the shire.

The first application, in Lilydale, sought to put 3 dwellings on a 1036m2 block with vehement opposition from residents in the surrounding area. Lilydale has been designated as a Major Activity Centre, it is one of the regions in the shire where increased densities are supported and in the case of this application the block falls within a ‘consolidation precinct’, where densities or 300 to 400 m2 are encouraged.

In this case the density was 1:345m2 and located 1.3kms from the Lilydale railway station and the services and retail that Lilydale has to offer. It is a prime location for this type of development and council has to ensure it upholds the strategic direction of the shire. Councillors voted to approve the application.

Conversely the other application sought to re-subdivide two blocks of land in Mt Evelyn in a low density residential zone. Should it have been approved this would have created lot sizes of 705m2 and 2,239m2.

The shire has spent countless hours (years) consulting around our Housing Strategy, and we cannot ignore that as the whim takes us. The decisions we make today are attached to the land in perpetuity and the granting of a smaller lot size in a low density residential area creates a precedent that would be hard to justify.

Further to that this application is in the Foothills area of the Dandenongs, an important area because of the vegetation and low density character of the region. The motion to approve the re-subdivision was lost and a refusal was supported by the majority of councillors.

One of the most important roles of council is decision making about land use, we must be true to our communities and continue to uphold the strategies that we have taken years to consult on, to do anything less is to fail to uphold community aspirations for how they want their shire shaped.

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Monday, March 22, 2010

earth hour – 27 mar

This Saturday marks the 4th running of Earth Hour, where people across the world are encouraged to turn off their lights for one hour at 8:30pm on Saturday 27th March.

It is an opportunity for you to show the world and your neighbourhood you care about global warming and want to see some action to halt the rapid growth in greenhouse gas emissions.

A number of landmarks across the country (and the world) will see their lights turned off as a display of community aspiration to halt climate change and seek a more sustainable future. You can do the same by participating in your household and I encourage you to do so.

If you’d like more information about Earth Hour you can visit

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

sewerage for belgrave south & heights gets closer

Today I went a community meeting held by South East Water, to discuss the implementation of the Sewerage Backlog Program which will see 730 households in Belgrave South have the capacity to connect to the sewer.

The meeting was well attended by the community with over 200 people crowded into the Progress Hall.

Recognition of failing septic tanks and their contamination of our environment and waterways has seen the project brought forward in the backlog program.

The project will see 18,000 metres of pipe laid and will take 12 months to complete. The works will be undertaken in stages with residents given the opportunity to connect as soon as they can, although they have up to 12 months to connect.

The project will consist mainly of drilling with only some open cut work, the intention of South East Water is to minimise environmental damage by using these construction techniques. A large percentage of the pipe used in the project will be only 63mm in diameter with pipework for those on pressure systems measuring 125mm.

The project is seeking a planning permit and is currently being assessed by the Shire. It is a complex application and will take some time for officers to assess. It will come to council for a final decision given the extent of the project.

If you would like to more about the project call the South East Water Community Liaison Officer on 1800 055 465 or email

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

etc speaks peak oil, ringwood station & route 900

Last week saw the Eastern Transport Coalition meet at the City of Whitehorse. A full agenda, the meeting kicked off with a presentation about peak oil by Phil Hart from the Australian Association for the study of Peak Oil and Gas (ASPO).

Phil talked about oil exploration, use and demand, with current data indicating that we have be using more oil than what has been discovered since 1980. Currently we use five times more oil than what is being discovered with no new large oil fields being discovered at all.

Phil also talked about alternative sources of oil, including tar sands. Extracting oil from the sands is very energy and resource intensive. To make 1 barrel of oil from tar sands takes 4 tonnes of earth, requires 2 to 5 barrels of water to clean it and uses enough gas to heat one home for 1 to 5 days. This is not the answer to secure oil supply across the world.

The International Energy Association has reflected oil demand is lower across OECD countries whilst demands are increasing significantly in China and India. It will be interesting to see how the state and federal governments will respond to the issue of peak oil and the ETC will be pursuing this with them.

Peak oil is another reason to support more sustainable forms of transport across our state. When we look to the future those communities who continue to be heavily reliant on motor vehicle transport will be severely disadvantaged by higher fuel costs. Good quality, frequent and fast public transport plays a key role in addressing peak oil and is one of the long term solutions to these issues.

Also up for discussion was the recent
pt4me2 survey which saw Ringwood railway station nominated the second worse station in Melbourne. This nomination comes as no surprise to ETC members, the station has long been a struggle for those with mobility issues. The disappointing thing is that significant money has been allocated to the bus interchange at Ringwood station but not one cent has been put towards making Ringwood station DDA compliant.

If we want to increase the take up of public transport as a legitimate way to travel around our city it must be accessible, that means both vehicles and transport infrastructure. Ringwood Station has a long way to go, it is an enormously busy station, an upgrade to make it fully accessible is long overdue.

Lastly one of our erudite members of the ETC reported back on his travel experiences on board smartbus route 900. Our councillor commuter notes on a daily basis (M to F) that around 200 people try to squeeze on to a 58 seater bus in an effort to get out to Monash University from Huntingdale Station. Smart buses have been a great addition to Melbourne’s public transport, but if they’re already over capacity then a longer term solution is needed.

Premier Brumby’s announcement a few weeks ago that a Rowville Rail is not up for consideration fails to acknowledge the demand for heavy rail to Monash Uni and beyond to Rowville. In the mean time, Uni commuters are forced to jostle to find a place on the smartbus, workers from the outer east continue to clog Melbourne’s roads costing the state a fortune in congestion and lost productivity. A rail to Rowville is long overdue, is the best solution to carry large volumes of commuters and was an election promise by this current Labor government in 1999.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

fire danger period finishes 22 march

The CFA have announced that this seasons Fire Danger Period will be cease at 1:00am on Monday 22nd March, 2010.

After this time a fire in the open will have to comply with the relevant local law, in the case of Yarra Ranges, the Open Air Burning Local Law 2007. If you'd like to find out what you can and can't burn and when you can burn off click

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

synthetic gets the go ahead

Today saw the official opening of the Monbulk Synthetic Soccer Pitch with a match between the Monbulk Rangers and the Police Rascals to kick off proceedings. The day also celebrated the club merger between the Monbulk Soccer Club and the Sherbrooke Rangers Junior Soccer Club to become the Monbulk Rangers.

The new synthetic pitch will see young people stay in the area rather than leave seeking better quality grounds. It's great to be able to support soccer in this way.

The ground looked a treat with works for the new pitch completed in January. Club members are very pleased with the results, the new synthetic pitch is far more durable than a turf pitch and can be utilised 7 days a week, rain, hail or shine. Also water friendly, the synthetic pitch does not require watering, an important consideration as council continues a program of droughtproofing the ovals across the municipality.

I have worked hard to see the synthetic pitch installed to replace the grass pitch at Monbulk. It will go a long way to easing the pressure on the Menzies Creek Reserve and is a stepping stone to a major soccer facility to support soccer across the Dandenong Ranges which will see, as a staged process, 4 pitches built on the new site.

The pitch was made possible with $300,000 from the Shire of Yarra Ranges which was matched by the state government.

Soccer has grown exponentially in this region, with the Sherbrooke Rangers well and truly outgrowing the current Menzies Creek facilities. The merger of the two clubs will allow the ongoing support of junior players to transition to senior level and will cement the Monbulk Rangers as a major force in soccer in Victoria.

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Saturday, March 13, 2010

art of three at chapel gallery

It was terrific to officially open the Art of Three exhibition at the Chapel Gallery, located in the Kallista Uniting Church. The exhibition includes the work of John Dudley, June Barnett and Charlie Tong. John and June are members of the prestigious Twenty Melbourne Painters Society, with John currently holding the position of President.

From left to right: June Barnett - artist, Karleen Osborne - director, Samantha Dunn - councillor and John Dudley - artist. Art of Three is a wonderful collaborative effort between the Chapel Galley and artists June, John and Charlie.

Local arts community supporters came out for the opening and it was wonderful to see such broad support of the gallery. The Chapel Gallery provides a place for local artists to exhibit their work and is also a place where community members can seek solace and a cup of tea and a chat too.

It was terrific to see the works of John, June and Charlie, the gallery is fortunate to have the support of these local artists. All funds raised from the sale of works at the gallery go towards community outreach projects. It’s a great spot to stop and check out the myriad of different works available for sale. The church is to be commended for their efforts to support community and local artists at the same time. They do much to bond our community and make the Dandenongs a better place to live.

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Friday, March 12, 2010

emergency planning, fire plans & sharing resources

report from the roundtable – 9 mar
This week’s council meeting saw council sign off on important documents that deal with the Shire’s emergency response and fire prevention plans.

Up for consideration was the Shire’s Municipal Fire Prevention Plan, Municipal Emergency Management Plan and the Protocol for Inter-Council Emergency Management Resource Sharing.

Municipal Fire Prevention Plan aims to identify fire related risks in the shire and outline how council will responds to those risks and contribute to the overall fire prevention effort in the region. The Plan has been fully reviewed and updated to include the recommendations by the Bushfires Royal Commission. It has been signed off by the Shire’s Municipal Fire Management Planning Committee.

I was pleased to able the second the motion to adopt the MFPP. It is a comprehensive document that clearly articulates council’s role in fire prevention actions.

Municipal Emergency Management Plan is half way through a two stage twelve month review. The Shire’s current MEMP has been updated in include recommendations from the Bushfires Royal Commission and to clarify some of the revised responses by the Shire of Yarra Ranges to relief and recovery practices as a result of our recent experience from the Black Saturday bushfires. The latest version also includes details about Neighbourhood Safer Places.

The Shire’s MEMP is reviewed annually by the Emergency and Safety Planning Unit to ensure it is relevant and up to date. After our experiences of the Black Saturday bushfire and due to the Bushfires Royal Commission the MEMP is undergoing significant changes and is under a full review.

Amendments to the MEMP considered at this council meeting include:
· New staff positions in the Municipal Emergency Coordination Centre (MECC), Emergency Relief Centres (ERCs) and in the field;
· Role Statements for each position in the MECC and ERCs;

· Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for each task required for emergency response and relief;
· Revised MECC structure dependant upon the scale of an emergency;
· Revised MECC floor plan;
· Situation, Mission, Execution, Administration, Communications, Safety (SMEACS)briefing tool;
· Sub-plan Coordinators are now called Operations Officers (MECC and field operations) or Officers (logistics and planning in the MECC);
· Revised MECC and ERC activation phases in line with the new Fire Danger Index warning system;
· Locations of the new Emergency Relief Centres; and
· New Eastern Region Relief and Recovery arrangements.

I was pleased to be able to move the motion for council to endorse the plan, it is a comprehensive document to outline the shire’s emergency response including relief and recovery.

Protocol for Inter Council Emergency Management Resource Sharing is a document that details an agreed position between councils regarding the provision of council resources to assist other councils with response and recovery tasks during emergencies. The Yarra Ranges council originally adopted the protocol back in October, 2008 however in light of recent changes to emergency management arrangements in Victoria the MAV has requested all councils reconfirm their commitment to the protocol.

At Yarra Ranges we have already seen the spirit of the protocol in action with numerous councils assisting Yarra Ranges to deal with the Black Saturday bushfires. Only last week the protocol came into play with the City of Knox asking Yarra Ranges to be prepared to assist after Knox was pelted in the recent hail storms.

Once again, I was pleased to move the motion. It cements an ongoing and positive relationship with our neighbouring municipalities in times of need during an emergency.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

minutes - 9 mar

click on image for a copy of the minutes


Tuesday, March 09, 2010

community conversation - transitioning our community

You are invited to a Community Conversations event on Transitioning our Community

Building community resilience in response to climate change & peak oil

When: Saturday, March 20th
9:30am - 3:00pm
Selby Hall
(cnr of Belgrave-Gembrook rd & Selby Aura rd. Behind All Saints Church)

Please bring a plate to share
Cost: $6

the day will include:
Revolving table conversation on "What is community resilience?"

Swap Shop
bring a preloved item or produce to to exchange

A Community Sustainability Trivia Session (with prizes!)

Where to now for the Transition Network (transition towns) in the Dandenong Ranges?
A few core areas of interest relating to transition will form the discussions for this part of the day. If there are any burning issues you wish to raise for discussion please let organisers know so that we can incorporate them.

RSVP / Bookings essential
Please rsvp by March 15th on email kmhen7@gmail.com

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Monday, March 08, 2010

cleaning up in lyster

Yesterday was Clean Up Australia Day, I chose to go down to Monbulk Creek (Belgrave Lake Park to Belgrave Hallam Road) to help volunteers there and then went on to Long Pockitt Reserve, a stretch of Parks Victoria land in Selby, to pick up rubbish.

Community, Friends of Groups and Landcare members joined together to help clean up our environment. Without a doubt the most common rubbish found was beverage containers, this again reinforces the urgent need for container deposit legislation. I am certain that if a 10cent deposit refund was in place for our beverage containers we would find many less in our environment, as is the case in South Australia where a container deposit system has been in place for some time.

Alarmingly there were more tyres found this year, eleven in total. Home renovators had dumped wood refuse and roofing and the day’s collection also included the usual mix of cigarette butts, drink containers, paper/cardboard rubbish, styrene and plastic bags all in our environment threatening our water quality and Melbourne’s last viable platypus population.

In 2009 over 600,000 volunteers cleaned up just under 7,000 sites in 2009, and the result was over 8,300 tonnes of rubbish removed from the environment. On Sunday, the Selby CFA joined with over 20 community members to remove 5 bags of rubbish, 8 bags of recyclables, building waste and 11 tyres and our environment is much the better for it.

I continue to be appalled by people who think it is okay to litter our environment, particularly on the scale of car tyres and home renovation waste. It costs local government (our ratepayers) substantial amounts of money to deal with litter, whether it’s on our streets or illegally dumped rubbish.

To see a fundamental shift in the management of waste and landfill, the true costs of waste management should be met by those sectors that are responsible for creating it in the first place. This is the aim of Extended Producer Responsibility, which is a scheme that makes the producer of the packaging is responsible for it from cradle to cradle. The introduction of a mandatory Extended Producer Responsibility scheme will keep products and materials out of the waste stream and reduce their environmental impact. I look forward to the day when producers of the waste are responsible for the waste, perhaps we wont see hundreds having to come out and clean up litter and they can spend their valuable volunteer hours achieving even greater things for our community.

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Saturday, March 06, 2010

seville's supermarket spears ahead

Earlier this week I had the great pleasure of attending the Grand Opening of the refurbished and extended IGA in Seville, Entwistle’s. It has been terrific to see this supermarket flourish and the Entwistle family have shown a huge commitment to the local community by spending $4.75million on renovations.

On a journey from Brunswick, to Boronia, to Kilsyth, to Seville, supermarkets are in the blood of the Entwistle family. Pictured here from left to right are: Jason Entwistle, Cr Samantha Dunn, Jenny Entwistle and Barry Entwistle.
Keen to support local food production, Entwistle’s spend $2million sourcing product from local growers in the Yarra Valley. The goods are delivered to the door in Seville and don’t come via the market in Melbourne, saving on transport costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

Entwistle’s are great supporters of the local community and via community sales have contributed $180,000 to local community groups. Independent supermarkets hold 15% of the marketplace and provide valuable competition. A great family supermarket, the benefit to the local community will continue to grow with them.

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Thursday, March 04, 2010

who's for cats

Yesterday I went out to visit the Coldstream Animal Aid centre as part of the Who’s for Cats campaign being run by Victorian Animal Aid in partnership with The Lost Dogs’ Home, RSPCA Victoria, Cat Protection Society and Lort Smith Animal Hospital.

Me with Debra Boland from Animal Aid in Coldstream. Debra says, "more cats desexed now means fewer kittens ending up at our shelter or born into a life of suffering and disease."

These agencies are offering to desex and micro-chip ‘semi-owned’ cats at a discounted rate for people willing to take full ownership of the cat.

‘Semi-owned’ cats are defined as cats that wander the neighbourhood and are fed by different people, but don’t have a home or owner.

Each year thousands of cats need to euthanised because not enough homes can be found for them. Semi owned cats can become part of the feral cat population and wreak havoc on our precious wildlife in Yarra Ranges.

From 10 April this year, all cats being registered with Council for the first time must be desexed (please note exemptions may apply on veterinary advice).

Compulsory desexing is one way Council can assist the
‘Who’s for Cats’ campaign in reducing the amount of unwanted cats in our community. Cats can have their first litter when they are as young as six months of age and their population can escalate rapidly.

I encourage the community to support the
‘Who’s for Cats’ campaign. Desexing your pets forms part of responsible pet ownership, just like registering and microchipping.

If you do have a new kitten, please visit your vet and make arrangements for your pet to be desexed, or if you are one of many people feeding an unowned cat, consider taking full ownership of it and having it desexed and microchipped as part of the campaign offer.

The ‘Who’s for Cats’ campaign will run throughout March. For more information contact Animal Aid on 9739 0300 or visit
www.animalaid.org.au or the ‘Who’s for Cats’ website.

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