Today’s announcements by Labor regarding the enhancement and protection of Melbourne’s Green Wedges are welcomed by the Interface Councils.
Interface Councils have been discussing with the Andrew’s Government the need for an increased investment to maintain the Green Wedge land in the Interface’s areas, as these are the lungs of Melbourne and require intensive maintenance.
The Councils are pleased that Labor will invest $150 million to create more than 6,500 hectares of parkland including new walking and bike trails, commit $10 million to upgrade playgrounds, landscaping, toilets and picnic facilities in existing older parks and review planning rules for land use in Green Wedge areas.
According to David Hawkins, Executive Officer for the Interface Councils, there are significant benefits for all Victorians in expanding the parks and trails, particularly in Green Wedge areas.
“There are economic, social and environmental benefits that will result from an expanded park and trail network,” said Mr. Hawkins. “A study completed for the Northern Regional Trails Strategy estimates that the economic benefits will be more than $4 billion over 30 years if all the 780 kilometres of trails are built.”
Today’s announcement is good news for Interface residents and Victorians. However, the cost of maintaining these new opens spaces could be costly and it would be unfair if this burden fell solely to local residents. While all Victorians benefit from healthy parks and trails, currently local residents shoulder the burden of ongoing maintenance through their local rates.
“Interface Council’s welcome the announcement of $10 million to upgrade the playgrounds, landscaping, toilets and picnic facilities in the old parks,” said Mr. Hawkins. “However, to put this into context the parks and gardens maintenance budget for one Council already exceeds $22 million. We look forward to working with the Government to ensure the maintenance of these new parks and trails does not become a funding burden for the local resident.”
Interface Councils are also pleased to see a review of planning rules that clearly define the permitted land uses that will help to enhance Green Wedge protection of the environment, landscape, agriculture, tourism and rural industry in each Interface area.
“Each Green Wedge area is unique and we are happy to hear that Labor is committed to undertaking a thorough a public process and will consult with Local Governments to tailor the new rules to ensure they meet the needs of the local environment and community,” said Mr. Hawkins.
Interface Councils is a group of ten municipalities that form a ring around metropolitan Melbourne, comprising Cardinia Shire Council, City of Casey, Hume City Council, Melton City Council, Mitchell Shire Council, Mornington Peninsula Shire Council, Nillumbik Shire Council, City of Whittlesea, Wyndham City Council and Yarra Ranges Shire Council. Together, the group works to enhance the liveability of the region for its residents. For more information visit www.interfacecouncils.com.au.