Local Council Elections 2020
Darebin Parklands are bordered by the South East Ward in Darebin and the new Chelsworth Ward in Banyule. We asked each of the candidates in each ward the question below:
The Darebin Parklands are facing numerous challenges in 2020 - from climate change to increased pollutants and development in the catchment, through to the impact of unprecedented levels of visitors over the last six months.
If you are elected, how will you respond to these challenges and what actions will you take to promote and improve the bushland character of the Darebin Parklands, so maintaining it as a wildlife haven and a place to appreciate nature?
Thanks for reaching out to me and apologies it’s taken a few days to come back to you, it’s been pretty hectic on the campaign front over the last week or so.
Aren’t we so lucky to have the Creek and the Parklands on our doorstep?!
They have been a saviour for so many people through these last few months, me included! From walks with the kids and the dog along the creek path and fun at the off-leash area in the Parklands, my partner going for runs to clear his head from work and physically-distanced walk with one of my best friends that lives alone, to just solo walking and sitting to take in the trees and sky, I think it would have been a much harder experience for us all without this beautiful open space.
The flip side of all of this activity and foot traffic is of course the impact to the natural environment itself and making sure we protect this is very important to me.
In my previous role as Sustainability Manager at La Trobe Uni, one of the teams I managed was the Wildlife Sanctuary and the balance between bushland regeneration and conservation, environmental education and various citizen science events was always front of mind for us. You might know Vern Steele who is the Operations Manager of the Wildlife Sanctuary and sits on the Darebin Creek Management Committee as part of the Uni’s connection to the Creek and the Parklands? I was Vern’s manager and we worked very closely together to improve the environment and the services at the Sanctuary over a number of years.
Some of the methods we used there included setting up exclosures to protect certain areas if there was overgrazing or new plantings to be protected and that worked well for us. We didn’t have the same volume of people you guys are dealing with right now, but I think a similar approach with educational information explaining the importance of keeping humans out of certain areas can work well if it’s tied to the bigger picture of the importance of that environment.
Darebin Council has done some great work in recent years establishing the Darebin Nature Trust and Breathing Space, its open space strategy that is now part of what Council is working on. There are some great things in there like access to open space within 500m of all homes which is very ambitious but very important when it comes to cooling our urban environment, creating nature refuges or habitat links and giving better access to people that don’t currently have it. I want to make sure this good work continues.
As part of our campaign, Greens candidates have committed to an even more ambitious plan to plant 1.5m trees, plants and grasses by 2025.
We want this to be the largest rewilding project of any Victorian council, restoring and creating bushland corridors, cooling our community during heatwaves and providing precious habitat for native species at risk of local extinction. In doing this we will be guided by local experts such as yourselves, the Darebin Nature Trust and Wurundjeri Elders. To make this possible we will continue the work to ensure that developers pay their fair share, with the highest open space levy in Victoria. This will ensure that Council, alongside local friends groups, can support vulnerable creatures and increase biodiversity by investing in existing open space.
With regard to pollution in the creek, we know Council can’t solve this on its own and we need to work with others that impact us from upstream and surrounding areas. I, along with others in our candidate team, are keen to see this done well for Darebin Creek and other areas in Darebin such as Edwardes Park Lake. I think my experience as industry partnerships coordinator for state government and my more recent experience with La Trobe Uni dealing with Council and Melbourne Water on things to do with water levels and quality in the creek, means I am well positioned to represent these issues effectively based on the best evidence before us.
I hope to be elected and to be working with other progressive councillors and committed community organisations such as yourselves in the near future, but if you have any further questions in the meantime, please let me know.
Thanks for reaching out to me. My latest video on my facebook page shows how I feel about the Darebin Parklands. I suggest that you look at this video and draw your own conclusions. I couldn't be more open that that. You are welcome to speak to me at any time you find convenient as I am always happy to speak about the Parklands.
My regards to you and your association , look forward to hearing from you soon.
I’ll never forget my first encounter with the Darebin Parklands, over 20 years ago. I had started work in parks management with Darebin Council and my orientation program included a tour by Ranger Peter Wiltshire. The parkland’s rugged beauty was such an entrancing experience –its geological formations, meander of the creek, indigenous flora and fauna, and ridgeline views to the City, that my family relocated to the area!
The parklands have been a valued part of our lives ever since – cycling, dog walking, and socialising. My kids attended the school education program and camped out as part of the Junior Rangers program. I joined the DPA committee to contribute to the Darebin Parklands Masterplan and its aims for a balance of conservation, recreation, and environmental education.
As a Landscape Architect I’m aware of the need for strategic lanning and community engagement for sound public open space management outcomes.
I support the current development of the Darebin Parklands Management Plan for the future protection and enhancement of this unique area. A measure of the plans success will be community adoption of proposed actions –parklands planning should include effective community engagement with all stakeholder groups at all stages including implementation.
I believe issues to be addressed must include: conservation and development pressures arising from increasing residential density and population growth in the area -contributed to in part by the Ivanhoe Activity Centre; conflicts between different user groups; and management of future risks and impacts attributable to climate change.
The Banyule Public Open Space Plan 2016-31, recognises the high quality nature of the Darebin Creek Parklands, and asserts a number of strategic opportunities including: improving accessibility and connectivity for residents from the Banyule side, and providing children with unstructured play opportunities in a natural environment -management has long resisted introduction of structured play equipment making the Darebin Parklands a unique space in the district for imaginative play in a natural setting.
Measures I would consider to promote and improve the bushland character of the parklands and address climate change:
- Improved weed control and more planting of drought tolerant indigenous plant species. A policy for no additional built structures in the parklands—including play equipment.
- Replacement shelter structures for the BBQ area and possibly the Ranger station should not increase the current footprint and should be designed sympathetic to its surroundings.
- Habitat and conservation zones should be protected and access managed
- Rising temperatures and more days of extreme heat could pose fire risks in the park and to neighbouring properties—fire management risks need to be assessed and managed.
- More canopy tree planting for shade
- Changing climate also poses greater exposure of park users to snakes—snakes are appearing earlier and for longer periods-park users need to be made aware of changed conditions
- Darebin Creek water quality both within the parklands and upstream needs to be continually assessed for contaminants and litter traps in place (and maintained) to reduce pollutants into the creek.
These measures are to be supported if the vision for the Darebin Parklands holds true: “a conservation parkland within an urban setting where people come for passive recreation and to appreciate nature.”
I have not mentioned the environment and actually lived a few doors away from the Darebin Parklands.
It is my belief that people cannot be experts in every area and therefore I would invite and rely upon people like yourself who obviously have a tremendous insight and knowledge of the particular set matter to inform me and keep me advised.
After all, this is a local government that is supposed to be for local people.
I am on the Darebin Parklands Association Committee and live just near the Rockbeare
If elected, I will ensure that all actions I undertake in relation to the parklands undergo thorough consultation with the DPA, the DCMC and the local community.
I am the only candidate in Chelsworth that has lobbied against the recent sale of land in Darebin Creek Reserve to a private owner. You can see my video on the issue here:
In terms of addressing the current challenges facing the park, I see huge opportunities, particularly online, to educate new and current users, which will help to give them an appreciation and respect for the parklands. The council could work with the DPA to implement programs which foster greater community involvement in revegetation projects, and initiatives which celebrate the traditional owners of the land that the parklands is located upon. I am also passionate about preserving the rustic feel of the parklands – although this should be balanced with ensuring it is accessible to all users.