Monday, February 24, 2014

time for container deposit now, no threat to kerbside collections

report from the roundtable - 11 feb

An extraordinary article appeared in the Mail Newspapers in January, titled “Home recycling pick-up under threat”, the story talked about kerbside recycling under the threat in Yarra Ranges if a Container Deposit Levy (CDL) was introduced.

This astonishing claim was made by the CEO of the National Packaging Covenant Industry Association. In the article Mr Stan Moore said if CDL is introduced it could force Yarra Ranges Shire to reduce or even stop kerbside collection. Mr Moore couldn’t be more wrong.

I’d like to invite Mr Moore to take a quick stroll along our roadsides, reserves and waterways where he can see for himself the amount of beverage containers in our environment, that wouldn’t be in our environment if there was a price attached to them. And who cleans them up, community volunteers and council.

In a submission to the Standing Committee on Environment and Planning in 2011 it was highlighted that it is our estimation that beverage containers account for 15% of litter collected in the Shire’s gross pollutant traps. Fifteen percent might not sound like a lot but that equates to 44 tonnes of beverage containers in any one year.

Yarra Ranges Council has long supported the introduction of CDL because of the many benefits including reducing unsightly and dangerous litter in the environment as well as increasing recycling rates saving both energy and use of raw materials used in the production of packaging.

We do support the introduction of CDL and see it as being complimentary to our kerbside recycling program.

At best it is erroneous to suggest Yarra Ranges Council will abandon our kerbside recycling, at worst it is scaremongering of the very worst order.

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Friday, February 21, 2014

samantha in the press

Push for booze law change
Mail Newspapers
by Kath Gannaway
18 Feb 2014

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

georgia - our youngest young environmental achiever

I was delighted to be able to present the Ken McIntosh Young Environmental Achiever of the Year award to Dandenong Ranges local, Georgia Grimmer, as part of the Australia Day Awards.

Georgia’s passion for the environment at such a
young age is inspiring, our future’s looking bright
 with future leaders like Georgia.
Congratulations Georgia!
Georgia, our youngest ever recipient at 10 years old, is a student at The Patch Primary and for the past five years has been committed to improving the school’s wildlife habitat. Georgia led a team of Year 4 students in restoring a very neglected fern gully on the school’s boundary.

She’s taken the lead in weed removal and control, indigenous plantings and rebuilding wildlife habitat.

It has not been an individual effort, Georgia has brought many other students on the journey to improve the local environment and mobilised them with her knowledge, enthusiasm, pride and energy.

What strikes me about Georgia is her ability to inspire and involve people of all ages and backgrounds and already she demonstrates leadership skills, an inclusive approach and a desire to make a difference.

Georgia’s passion for the environment at such a young age is inspiring, our future’s looking bright with future leaders like Georgia. Congratulations Georgia!

Congratulations to all our Australia Day award recipients:
Citizen of the Year – Tanya de Visser
Young Citizen of the Year – Lily Belle Hellicar
Community Group of the Year – Healesville Interchurch Community Care
Environmental Achiever of the Year – David and Jean Edwards
Ken McIntosh Young Environmental Achiever of the Year – Georgia Grimmer
Mayor’s Lifetime Achievement – Phyllis Dixon
Ian de la Rue Award for Community Leadership – Norman Orr
Certificates of Recognition – Judy Thornburn and Michael Halligan

The Ken McIntosh Young Environmental Achiever of the Year award honours the contribution of Ken McIntosh, who was a driving force in environmental and conservation issues in the Yarra Ranges.

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

climate change time capsule starts ticking

What better way to start Australia Day 2014 than to participate in a Climate Change Time Capsule event out at Birdsland.
Peter Cook and Cr Samantha Dunn, prepare to
'plant' the time capsule, this marked rock will make it
easier for the community to unearth the capsule in 2050.

Peter Cook, time capsule organiser and President of the Dandenong Ranges Renewable Energy Association, said “On Australia Day politicians across Australia will be attending citizenship ceremonies and talking about our great country. Not many, we suspect, will touch on what governments could or should be doing to restore a ‘safe climate’.”

The day was an opportunity to think about climate change and our vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. I continue to be concerned about the lack of action on climate change and the dismantling of the Climate Commission. Although on a positive note I am heartened by the crowdfunding of the new Climate Council.

I commend the groups who participated, who continue to
work to highlight the need for action to work to a safe climate,
 I was honoured to be able to turn the first sod.
Our current levels of Co2 emissions is 396ppm and we know that we are headed for  more extreme weather, the brunt of which is being felt in all corners of the earth. 2013 was the year of broken records, every single month climate heat records were broken in Australia.

The purpose of the time capsule was to answer for future generations what we knew about climate change and what we did to prevent it.

The time capsule intends to answer those questions. The time capsule included a plethora of information as well as seeds from local endangered acacia species and many community groups joined in the proceedings to bury the time capsule.

Local CFA brigades and emergency service volunteers and workers were especially recognised at the event as it is them who are in the frontline of dealing with the consequences of climate change and extreme weather.

So many groups contributed to the time capsule, on the day we were joined by representatives of the Dandenong Ranges Renewable Energy Association, the Southern Dandenongs Community Nursery, Selby CFA, Belgrave Heights and South CFA, the Shire of Yarra Ranges, The Victorian Greens - Dandenong Ranges branch, Emerald Community House, Southern Dandenongs Landcare, Friends of Glenfern Valley Bushlands, Friends of the Monbulk Creek (trestle bridge), Emerald for Sustainability and the Knox Environment Society.

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Monday, February 17, 2014

ornithorynkids awesome again

I was delighted to attend the fifth Awesome Ornithorynkids (platypus) Day, a celebration of the Monbulk Creek platypus population and environment at Belgrave Lake Park.  A key event of the Southern Dandenongs Landcare Group, organisers planned a range of activities for all to participate in. 

This year I MC’d the night time creature sounds competition and I was amazed at how many creatures were readily identified by participants.

The day included a planting on the banks of the Monbulk Creek, a known habitat area for our local platypus population. Awesome Ornithorynkids provided a great opportunity to harness some community energy into replanting, with 300 plants put in on the day as part of the revegetation program.
Park Victoria were there with a wildlife display as well
as this fox, a widespread pest animal in
The Dandenongs.

An enormous amount of work has been completed removing weed nasties like Wandering Trad (ranked number 10 as worst weed in Yarra Ranges) under the Urban Fringe Weed Management Initative (UFWMI), a jointly funded project which has seen $1million of state government investment  over four years matched by council to start to tackle weeds across land tenures in the Dandenongs.

I can only hope that we see tripartisan support for this initiative into the future and a recommitment to fund the program as we head into an election year in Victoria. The UFWMI has had some great outcomes in terms of biodiversity improvements as well as continuing the great relationship between council and community environment groups in the protection of natural values and the threat of weeds.

There’s been an enormous amount done in the Dandenongs and Awesome Ornithorynkids is a great way to showcase this work, educate locals on our local icon, the platypus and harness some of that community passion into planting or other volunteer opportunities. Well done SDLG.

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Friday, February 14, 2014

belgrave buskers festival - calling all buskers - time to register

It's time for the annual Belgrave Buskers Festival, so get your registration in now. I wouldn't miss it, in fact I can't miss it, I'm one of the guest judges for the Solo category. It's a great opportunity to strut your stuff and there's prizes, click here for more info.


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Thursday, February 13, 2014

survival day 2014

Australia Day, 2014 saw the seventh running of Survival Day in Belgrave, a celebration of the survival of Indigenous culture. Organisers worked hard to bring the most amazing line up of artists and speakers to both locals and visitors. 
Aunty Dot Peters has supported Belgrave Survival Day
since it's inception, this year she particularly highlighted
Indigenous involvement in the first world war. Aunty Dot
has long fought for recognition of the Indigenous
contribution to the war effort.

I am pleased to be able to support Survival Day both through community ward funding and Yarra Ranges festival funding. It is a great day to celebrate the achievements of our Indigenous community and their great strength to survive.
Uncle Bill Nicholson conducted a smoking ceremony
to welcome everyone to country.

It’s also a good opportunity to report back on the activities of Yarra Ranges Council and our work with the Indigenous community in the past year. 2013 was a busy year in this space, much was achieved and this includes:
  • Formalising Council’s first ever Reconciliation Policy, a shared
  • The launch of Council’s Reconciliation Framework for Action that outlines our key strategic Reconciliation directions for the next ten years based Indigenous ways of Knowing and Cultural Strengthening, based around the values of respect, caring and sharing.
  • Providing support to HICSA regarding governance and organisational sustainability
  • The launch of the Sharing Our Stories DVD at the Memorial Hall which is a great video on Wurundjeri culture spanning from ancestors through to contemporary times. Produced in partnership with Eastern Regional Libraries and HICSA

  • The installation of interpretive artwork at the Healesville Library, also a partnership with ERL and HICSA.
  • Undertaking a process to embed the core Aboriginal cultural values of respect, caring and sharing into the departments of Family, Youth and Children’s Services and Economic and Community Development.

  • Establishing a relationship with the Wurundjeri Council to ensure the traditional owner voice influences Yarra Ranges land management practices, engaging the Wurundjeri Green Team to undertake landcare operations and providing key traditional owner content in Council’s Cultural Respect Training Program.
  • The completion of the Wurun Family Childcare precinct at Healesville based on a Reconciliation model.
  • The exhibition of Local Possum skin cloak launch at the Yarra Ranges Regional Museum.
  • Contribution of funding and support to the Coranderrk and Belgrave Survival day events last year.
  • Wominjika (Welcome) on gateway signage into Yarra Ranges.
And last but not least on a broader level council signed on as participants of the Racism, it stops with me campaign.

I am very thankful to the volunteers who work tirelessly to bring Survival Day to the hills, it’s a terrific day to celebrate the survival of the world’s longest living culture.

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

end of the line 2013, belgrave bustles

A very late blog entry, but to celebrate an event well worth giving mention to, the End of the Line 2013. My congratulations go to End of the Line event key organisers, Brent, CJ, Josh and Snowy. What an amazing job you did coordinating this enormous festival for Belgrave assisted by a huge pool of volunteer help.
Brent and CJ are two of the key organisers of the
End of the Line Festival. They've dedicated countless
volunteer hours to bring this amazing festival to Belgrave.
It was terrific to see Belgrave come alive with thousands of visitors enjoying all the hills have to offer on its cultural plate. With an enormous program of events, over 70 bands performed on stages throughout the town, art exhibitions, street performances, a makers market, film festival, workshops and demonstrations - there was plenty to keep people entertained from morning till night.
Snowy, another driving force behind End of the Line,
a key organiser who coordinated the live music on the day.

I’m proud to be able to support the End of the Line with a grant from my Community Ward Fund. It was a terrific day, driven by the passion of people to showcase the creativity of the hills, you did a great job.

Another key EOTL organiser, Josh put in a mammoth effort
in order to bring this huge festival to Belgrave.
The Makers Market was a great opportunity for local
artisans to showcase their wares.

I was happy to participate in the bubble blowing launch
of 3MDR's Mountain of Sound 2013 CD release.

Local band Lily and King proved to be one
of the most popular acts of the day.

The Cameo outdoor stage was packed
with locals keen to catch Lily and King.
Street Art was a key component of
activities at End of the Line.

The tiffaney bishop Collective artists created these works
for the Blacksmiths Way wheelie bins.

The Cameo Outdoor Cinema was a key venue for
live music on the day, here's local favourites Lily and King.

There's been some extraordinary street art that's been
created as part of the festival, it's well worth taking a
stroll down Blacksmiths Way to have a look.

Lloyd Spiegel was another highlight of the festival.
Local galleries were packed with people, here's the scene
at the tiffaney bishop Collective.
All sorts of spaces were activated as part of End of
the Line, this youth space off Blacksmiths Way was
very popular.

Local artist, Rebellious Bird, has been a
keen supporter of the No Maccas in the Hills
campaign who had a presence at the festival.

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

biocontrols for wandering trad?

My congratulations go to Bill Incoll, member of Friends of Sherbrooke Forest and organiser of a recent meeting to discuss biological controls for Wandering Trad, ranked 10th worst weed in Yarra Ranges.

The meeting was well attended with over 90 people who’d come to learn more about the potential for biological controls from David McLaren at DEPI.

David talked through the initial process required to have Wandering Trad declared as a target for a biological control program and how DEPI is working with Melbourne Water on this.

He went on to explain the testing and monitoring process in great detail and how the community can be involved in the process.
These creek banks are smothered in Wandering Trad,
it invades damp, wet and shaded areas and is widespread
along creeks and waterways.

New Zealand have spent between $1.5million and $2million on biocontrols for this weed as it is a serious issue there, fortunately for Australia we can benefit from their research.  

New Zealand have determined that three beetles and a pathogen (Yellow Spot Fungus) will be most beneficial as a biocontrol program, but of course rigorous testing on Australian flora will need to be conducted before we know what are the best solutions here.

Current removal of this weed is very labour intensive and given its location on the banks of many waterways means that spraying is very problematic and expensive. To safely remove Wandering Trad at the moment costs $20,000 per kilometre of creek bank and with 50km’s of streams in the Dandenongs this would equate to $1million.

The costs to see the research and implementation of a biological control for Wandering Trad is in the order of $400,000 to $450,000. 

Federal member for Latrobe, Jason Wood, has committed to funding for the removal of Wandering Trad, let’s make sure he comes good on his election commitment and puts the money into determining if a biological control solution is possible to get rid of this weed nastie. I look forward to seeing funding listed in the upcoming federal budget.

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Wednesday, February 05, 2014

olinda pool, the community presents its case

report from the roundtable – 28 jan

At last week’s council meeting concerned community members came down to the Lilydale council chambers to express their concerns about the Olinda Pool.

Long time Olinda local, John Faull, gave councillors a history of the pool and how it came to be constructed post the 1962 bushfires. He also raised concerns about the current photos used to depict faults in the pool. He highlighted that community members had not been charged to enter the pool last swim season and the request to purchase season tickets had been rejected. Mr Faull also reported that the Friends of Olinda Pool had also been proactive in gaining a quote for pool repairs.

I was concerned about a number of elements of Mr Faull’s presentation. Firstly I am very frustrated by the amount of time it is taking to get a Structural Engineers report, last week’s council meeting marked 11 weeks since the fault was discovered, and to my mind that’s way too long to have to wait for such a critical report.

I also raised concerns with officers about the claims that people had not been charged entry to the pool and asked that the matter be further investigated.  Not charging for entry has a range of implications including user data being distorted by not reflecting how many people actually use the pool.

I’m frustrated that we seem to be being held to ransom by waiting for the Structural Engineers report which is taking an inordinate amount of time to prepare. Although I can advise that a Structural Engineers report will soon be available and posted online on the Shire’s website for community members to access.

There are limited community facilities on the ridge top of the Dandenongs and the community is passionate to keep what they have.  

I was pleased to be able to support a motion "That Council officers immediately investigate alternative methods of repairing the Olinda Pool to expedite its reopening."
It came about from investigations via Cr Cliff into alternate ways to repair the pool, such as a pool liner.

The motion only just got through and to be sure there was a record of the vote I called a division:

Councillors for: Crs Cox, Cliff, Dunn, Witlox and McAllister
Councillors against: Crs Child, Avery, Callanan and McCarthy

At least we can now concurrently run the process of the structural engineers report and how we can best facilitate the quickest reopening of the pool. 

I’m keen to see that our communications with community improve and they are kept fully informed about what’s happening with the pool.

For council updates on the Olinda pool visit this link, to find out more about the community campaign join the facebook page SaveTheOlindaPool.

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