Oval redevelopment issues
In regard to Warrnambool City Council's motion on Monday night to accept concept plan 2 of the Reid Oval redevelopment which includes demolishing our club's homerooms, there are a number of issues that we would like the community, supporters, sponsors and other sporting clubs in the area to be made aware of.
EWFNC has a proud heritage being the oldest district club in the area which dates back to 1906. In 1956 the council requested the club relocate to Reid Oval to create additional land available near Fletcher Jones for a new housing estate. The club was given a 99-year lease as tenant and was the first tenant to occupy the site albeit in an old tram located near the hockey fields. Although only winning premierships in 1967 and 1995 the club has been successful off the field thanks to the enormous support of numerous tireless volunteers that built these rooms from scratch and over the years have added the canteen, a storeroom and a gymnasium for our members. This entire building has been funded for by the club and supporters.
We are now told it is non-compliant and fails to meet 'modern building standards expected for a public facility' so needs to be demolished. Is the real truth that we have great views across the Reid Oval and that in our place is to be 'office space' for three new prospective tenants? How can we be so non-compliant given the council has spent up to $20,000 in the past few months correcting compliance issues but also replacing all our fluorescent lights and locks to our roller doors which had nothing to do with compliance?
Would every leased council building meet this strict new criteria and by voting to demolish our clubrooms, over which we still have a lease, has the council now set a precedence for all other sporting clubs in the area? This will be very hard for any battling club in the district in the coming years and as such you should consider making a stand to protect what your club and members have invested in these buildings.
Our club is not adverse to negotiating its space as part of the redevelopment for the betterment of the project and the community but to be advised that we will get a quarter of our current rooms size (340m2 to 90m2), shared facilities and only have occupation rights for six months of the year is untenable. This also comes with a $50,000 financial contribution they have requested from our club. We aren't looking for anything extra we just want the same as what we have built, we built the canteen at the oval at our expense, yes we do catering to supplement our income but our facilities are no bigger than any other district football club so with the council referring to our commercial catering operations are well off the mark as anyone who has visited our rooms can attest to.
Our club has been forced into a recess due to the uncertainty of the redevelopment but is actively pursuing merger options along with other programs to develop its junior base once the redevelopment is complete. We were assured by WCC they would support us through this process but it appears as though the new prospective tenants wishing to relocate to Reid Oval have taken precedence over the existing original tenant. Must be a great view, but we always knew it was, that's why we built our rooms there.
Taking our Club's personal position out of the equation we ask anyone who has ever attended a game at Reid Oval to go the WCC website and take a look at the concept plans endorsed by council. The community needs to understand that the changeroom facilities are not much bigger, there is no rear access for an ambulance nor for teams to be able to take their gear into the rooms, there is no booth, for the umpires to enter the ground temporary fencing will need to be erected and security hired to contain the crowd to allow clear entry to the ground, there is no media room or coaches boxes (these are to operate out of the top of the WFNC), not quite the pride of the region we had envisaged and I'm sure the community didn't either. If the final plans are to be passed through council as was the initial motion with the project group not letting the community know and allowing constructive feedback, what hope will we have of attracting AFL/VFL games to our region? Let's hope this $11.5 million community injection isn't ineptly managed by council to the detriment of the entire community.
East Warrnambool Football Netball Club Committee
Let's address housing crisis
Two property developers are presently proposing apartment style developments in Warrnambool. This type of medium density development is becoming the housing preference for many in regional Victorian cities, having already proven it's suitability as a lifestyle option for a large number of people who live in the bigger cities.
The freedom to live on a small footprint without the responsibility for a large garden and to have a home which reflects one's choice of lifestyle without surplus rooms is a well-established option for many. The ghetto stigma is long gone from this choice of housing, and has been replaced by a sense of community, security and convenience.
Warrnambool is presently in the middle of a serious housing and rental shortage, this crisis is well documented - it is in the public domain. Medium density apartment style housing has the potential to address this crisis to a large degree; it is particularly aimed at one and two-person households and recognises the demographic of single parents and single working women as a group who are not presently well served by Warrnambool's existing housing stock.
The refusal by the Warrnambool City councillors of the Development Plan amendment for 15 Dales Road on Monday came as a shock to the proponents of that project. This was not a fleeting application made by an 'opportunistic' developer; the developer didn't create the housing crisis but was simply attempting to provide a solution to the need. Not to put too fine a point on it, the inaction of councillors has created the problem, and the problem will remain until they act.
There are only seven people in Warrnambool who can solve the housing crisis, the seven city councillors - they have the power to engage with genuine solutions to this crisis so that an outcome for the benefit of all can be achieved. I wonder if the councillors realise that the solution is in their hands, and that those who will spend tonight sleeping in a car or a tent can be properly housed if the councillors will pro-actively take up the challenge.
The Dales Road plan was a very significant undertaking for the proponent Reid Developments. In mid-2017 the process of engaging with council began, council officers recommended a development plan amendment as a starting point; this was supported by traffic, storm water, waste management and cultural heritage consultant reports. The developer addressed councillors at a briefing to present the concept, and detailed design was then undertaken. Upon completion of the design a further council briefing was attended by the developer, this time including a planning consultant to articulate for councillors the difference between a development plan and a planning application.
The application was lodged and 24 objections were received. The developer responded to these objections by significantly redesigning the project to address objector concerns, complete with updated consultant reports. The councillors opted to re-advertise the project to gauge the community response and six objections were received - a reduction of 75 per cent. This dramatic reduction in community concern was not sufficient for councillors to support the project, and so the needs of a large sector of the community have bowed to a few.
A process of two-and-a-half years' work at considerable expense to the proponent, complete with a detailed planning assessment and recommendation to approve by the council officers - was dismissed by the councillors in about 15 minutes.
There is no doubt the task of city councillors is significant and important, and it is not my intention to undermine or denigrate them, but sending the proponent off to VCAT is not the best way to manage Warrnambool's housing crisis.
Why not simply engage with the developer, why not be pro-active and find a solution that is good for all?
This letter is not about whether a permit was approved or not, it is about whether the councillors will take seriously the housing crisis in Warrnambool. The people I represent stand ready to work with council, to my knowledge they are the only developers presently ready to significantly address the housing crisis, they have demonstrated this genuine intent for the past two-and-a-half years, so let's not do the whole VCAT dance, it's too costly for everyone - let's just talk and find a way forward.
Graeme Schultz, Warrnambool
Protect our beaches
Mr Mifsud declares Eastern Maar to be 'supportive of the potential interests of the racing community' (The Standard, November 23. Eastern Maar, apparently, is 'not anti-race horse training on beaches' but 'anti-damage to cultural heritage'. While Eastern Maar and the Warrnambool Racing Club debate access to the beach I am perplexed to note that the beach itself bears no mention. Is not the beach regarded as 'country' and therefore deserving of protection? There is no argument regarding the necessity of preserving indigenous cultural heritage.
There is also no argument regarding the necessity of caring for the environment, providing protection of near-extinct species and ensuring the safety of the public. The oft-cited assertion that the racing industry is dependent upon access to the beaches however I would suggest might be deemed questionable. Terms such as 'before the horses return to the beaches' imply their return is a given; this is not the case. The matter remains open. Eastern Maar and Warrnambool City Council, Mr. O'Connor informs us, are the relevant bodies regarding access to Spooky's but regarding the beach to which they hope to gain access this is incorrect. There is another group highly pertinent, that of the community. Warrnambool City Council might do well to remember that the beaches belong to and are sacred to all of us and we would like to preserve them for generations to come.
Robyn Wylie, Rosebrook
Ban duck shooting
I have written to the state government urging it to ban duck hunting in Victoria - at least in this coming year of continued drought, if not thereafter.
The on-going drought in NSW and QLD has simply devastated the population of waterbirds and we cannot allow those remaining that seek refuge in the 'green belt' of southern Victoria to be shot. Wetlands such as Lake Linlithgow, Lake Bolac and Tower Hill in our area - have been the places where very large numbers of endangered species (e.g. 1000-1200 blue-billed ducks in March 2018 and February 2019, and 850 freckled duck in March 2018) and others have sought refuge in the last few years. However that has not been sufficient to have the Game Management Authority (GMA) close these waters to hunting. All wetlands with large numbers of protected species have had shooting allowed, albeit some have had some marginal restriction (such as a ban on use of boats). Even a flock of 50 brolga was not enough to have shooting banned on Lake Bullrush in February 2015. Instead, the GMA 'offered' these protected birds a small, dry adjacent swamp. That cynical 'offer' was ignored and the brolga abandoned their refuge and adjacent autumn cropland feeding grounds.
There are no declared sanctuaries on public waters in our region - that status was somehow lost in 1975 for Lake Linlithgow & Lake Bullrush, the only refuge that we had - and unfortunately the GMA and DELWP will not support any move to provide sanctuaries. Quite apart from the carnage during the open season, it is now impossible to view waterbirds at close range on our lakes at any time because of the birds' fear of shooters. There is also the impact of duck hunting on the migratory waders that rely on our wetlands to prepare for their annual long flight to the arctic regions. Continual disturbance to their feeding grounds in Australia in early autumn should not be permitted. The Linlithgow area wetland complex is one of six priority sites in Victoria in the Australian Government's National Directory of Important Migratory Shorebird Habitat. Sharp-tailed sandpipers, red-necked stint and double-banded plover are three migratory species that use these wetlands, and in large numbers when conditions are favourable.
Rod Bird OAM, PhD, secretary, Hamilton Field Naturalists Club
Abolish nuclear weapons
Pope Francis this week re-affirmed his position that the possession of the world's worst weapons are not part of the solution in creating a more peaceful world.
"In a world where millions of children and families live in inhumane conditions, the money squandered and the fortunes made through the manufacture, upgrading, maintenance and sale of ever more destructive weapons, are an affront crying out to heaven."
However, as long as over 13,000 nuclear weapons remain in existence, they continue to cast a shadow of catastrophic harm over the human rights of millions.
With 79 per cent of Australians in favour of joining the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, our government's missing signature is cause for disconcertion.
International Human Rights Day offers an opportunity for leaders at all levels of government to make peace a priority. Held each year on December 10, this date was chosen to honour the United Nations General Assembly's adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on this day in 1948. This was the first global enunciation of human rights and one of the first major achievements of the new United Nations.
The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons is inviting cities and towns across Australia to celebrate the 70th anniversary of International Human Rights Day with a declaration of support for the elimination of nuclear weapons. I hope that councils across the south-west will take up this opportunity to do what they can to create a future free from the threat of nuclear weapon.
Jemila Rushton, Warrnambool
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