NEWS UPDATE – AUGUST 2018
TREE VANDALISM MUST BE STOPPED!
It was very gratifying to see that the Council endorsed unanimously at its 17 July meeting the new Street Tree Strategy for the City with an amendment moved by Cr Patrick Hall and seconded by his Bannister ward colleague, Cr Ben Kunze, addressing the issue of tree vandalism.
The amendment states that: The City will not tolerate activities that damage street trees and will undertake all reasonable steps to protect street trees. The City will investigate measures, including through local law development and enforcement, to discourage acts of street tree vandalism and will seek to invoke all statutory powers to prosecute persons involved in such acts.
The Street Tree Strategy is very comprehensive, well informed, rigorous and thoughtful. Together with the Local Biodiversity Strategy that Council approved in June, it provides an outstanding blueprint for the much-needed greening of Canning: the protection of existing vegetation in the City and a steady, significant increase in the area of natural vegetation and tree canopy cover.
While it will be challenging for the City to find the many millions of dollars required to implement these two strategies, Cr Hall’s amendment recognises that the other biggest challenge will be countering the impact of environmental vandalism by Canning residents: damage, unauthorised poisoning or removal of trees and plants in street verges, parks and reserves.
While only a small minority of people are involved, they still have a disproportionately large, adverse impact on the amenity of our public places and the costs for the City. For example, last November a rampage by one, or maybe two people, along the Shelley foreshore, Canning River Regional Park, Bicentennial Adenia Park and the streets of Riverton will cost the City $37,000 and significantly set back revegetation plans in the affected areas, particularly where it involved well established, semi-mature trees that would have provided habitat and shade. In May this year, within a week of Council staff planting 68 trees along High Road, Riverton, 21 of them had been vandalised to the extent that 15 have had to be replaced at an estimated total cost of $14,490.
But probably the starkest example of the long-term impacts of environmental vandalism is at Shelley Beach Park. One of the unanimous recommendations coming from the two community consultation sessions held recently on the future of the Park, was for more trees. This echoed one of the main findings of last year’s community survey on Shelley Beach Park and a recommendation of the original Shelley Rossmoyne Foreshore Management Plan. But 17 years after that management plan recommendation, there are there still so few trees at the Park; canopy cover would be no more than 20 per cent.
The City has certainly tried to implement the recommendation by planting a number of semi-mature eucalypts and melaleucas. Some died of natural causes, after all the Park was originally just a sheet of sand and shells dredged from the Canning River. But other trees were vandalised, replaced by the City ……and vandalised again. While a very small number of trees managed to survive from that original and subsequent plantings, the net effect is that we still do not have anywhere near the tree cover needed for adequate shade and bird habitat.
I suspect that the mentality behind some of the vandalism is that when people spend a considerable sum of money to buy a house near the river, they can be deluded into believing that this entitles them to establish a clearer view of the river by cutting or killing trees on adjacent public property. This narrow-minded selfishness shows contemptuous indifference for the wonderful environment in which we are privileged to live and the interests of the wider community.
There is clearly no single, simple solution. If there was, the problem would have been overcome a long time ago. What is needed is a broad-scale approach that extends from soft consultation to hard-nosed action. Education alone is clearly not the answer.
It is firstly very important that councillors use the communication media with their constituents to promote the Local Biodiversity and Street Tree Strategies and speak out against those acting illegally to undermine them. Some good examples were Cr Hall’s response to the High Road incidents and Cr Kunze’s response to the November incidents. And they also need to support the City’s Parks staff who are regularly subjected to abuse and threats by residents when they are planting street trees. Silence from community leaders in response to incidents of vandalism or verbal abuse is a passive form of acceptance…which is unconscionable.
We also need a long-term plan for targeted community engagement on the establishment of street and parkland trees, complementing the education and tree advocacy program proposed in the Street Tree Strategy.
This targeted engagement should be based on:
- hearing any residents’ concerns,
- providing reassurance where possible, for example, that parkland plantings can be planned and managed to limit obstruction of views, …..
but at the same time
- providing the firm message that Canning has one of the lowest levels of tree canopy cover in Perth and the City is therefore committed to rectifying this while responding to repeated community demands for more trees.
As vegetation vandalism on public property, particularly along the Swan-Canning River system is a longstanding Perth-wide problem, Canning and all other particularly affected Councils need to pool their experiences and approaches to this issue.
They need to look at the erection of those steel signs on the sites of vandalism, that were successfully used by the former Swan River Trust and are used by other Councils but seem to be largely absent from Canning, possibly due to all the hoops and steps that have to be jumped through and over before they can be erected. They need to look at penalty levels, investigative methods, for example the use of CCTV cameras, and evidentiary standards – can they be simplified while still producing sufficient evidence to successfully make a case beyond reasonable doubt?
And if there are successful actions in response to acts of vandalism they need to be publicised widely as a critical part in reminding the community that this is an offence which the City is determined to combat.
Peter M. Clayton
NEWS UPDATE – MAY 2018
Pressing issues require active citizenship
It is very pleasing to see our membership growing as we have made a concerted effort in recent weeks to increase awareness among residents of Riverton, Rossmoyne and Shelley of the Association and the important role it can play.
I am also very pleased that one of our relatively recent members, Ben Ang, has agreed to join the committee. We still have vacancies on the committee – particularly for secretary – so if any member would like to get a little more involved, please consider nominating for the committee. It is not a particularly burdensome commitment but one that I’m sure you will find rewarding as you can help influence what is happening in our community.
However, I do appreciate the time pressures on all people, particularly those in the workforce and there is certainly no obligation to join the committee if you join the Association – your membership alone is highly valued and an indication of a wish to become a more active citizen.
Active citizenship is particularly important with a Council that tends to respond to some issues rather than pro-actively identify and deal with them. The continuing problem of encroachment of building construction works onto footpaths and verges is a prime example of this. Our recent experience is that the Council usually only becomes aware of, and acts after, they have been notified by residents. Of course, as we highlighted in a previous Update, this is not surprising when Council officers will normally only inspect building sites before work commences and after the work has concluded.
A verge permit entitles the holder of the permit to use a verge for temporarily storing materials, accessing private property from the road or siting a bulk bin. More detailed information can be found on the City of Canning website and searching for Application Form for Verge Permit and Guidelines for Use of the Verge During Building works and Development.
If you believe use of a verge does not comply with these requirements and guidelines, you can lodge a complaint with the Council by phone or email. I find email – to firstname.lastname@example.org – easier and it is always useful to have a copy of the complaint and the time and date it was sent.
The future development of the Shelley Beach Park will be the focus of public consultations over the next two months. There is of course a diversity of views within our local community about this very popular area and particularly whether it should or should not have a café. Aside from alienating scarce open space for a commercial enterprise, the major issues that concern the Association about the proposed café are increased traffic in residential streets and pressure for a lot more parking spaces.
Unlike the Riverton Bridge Park, that had a relatively low level of visitation before the Low Quay café and adjacent playground were constructed, Shelley Beach Park has always attracted a lot of people and off-street parking near the Park is at a premium on weekends and public holidays. The only place a lot of additional parking could be provided is on the paddock – east of the toilet block.
These issues will no doubt get a lot of airing at the forthcoming consultations and I encourage all members to be active citizens and have their say.
Peter M. Clayton
NEWS UPDATE – MARCH -APRIL 2018
CANNING PROPERTY RATING STRATEGY – HAVE YOUR SAY!
Last night (26/03/18) your Committee had an excellent briefing from the City of Canning on the Draft Rates Strategy. The City is considering a rating framework that allows for differential rating, specified area rating, rating exemptions and rate notice charges. We were joined by representatives of the Willetton Progress Association and Wilson Residents and Ratepayers Association.
The City is conducting a brief survey to gain an initial insight into ratepayers’ opinions. The survey closes at the end of this month and can found through this link: https://www.canning.wa.gov.au/en/Residents/Rates/Rating-Discussion-Paper;. We urge you to complete the survey. Your opinion is valued and will help Council with their decision making. If you have friends who are not online, print off some copies so they can send them in. The survey should take no more than about five minutes to complete.
Don’t be daunted by the first seven questions about the rating system itself. It is designed to help the City send out better information. If you are unsure how the rating system works, go to question 8. From thereon they are seeking your views on how rates should be set. For some valuable background, you might like to refer to the relevant parts of a very informative 27-page discussion paper which can also be accessed through the link referred to above.
In the discussion paper, the City says that our current rating structure takes a simple approach without any distinction across all residential, commercial, industrial or vacant properties. It says a single rate in the dollar is applied against a property’s gross rental values as determined by the Valuer General, with a minimum rate payable. Gross rental values are reassessed every three years.
“The recent revaluation resulted in increased residential valuations and a decrease for non-residential. This created a shift in the rating burden. After many years of mostly consistent economic growth, future revaluations may also create further change
“A rating strategy establishes a framework by which the burden of rates and charges can be equitably shared by the community. It aims to address the following key elements:
1/ That the basis for rating continues to be Gross Rental Value.
2/ To maintain consistency and transparency each year in rating charges.
3/ To provide specific funding towards specific services and infrastructure.
4/ That properties exempt from rates have the same access to and enjoy the use of City infrastructure and services.
5/ That electronic communication methods are more efficient and effective. “
NEWS UPDATE – MARCH 2018
Welcome to the Riverton, Rossmoyne & Shelley Residents‘ Association News Update. We will be producing News Updates after each monthly committee meeting to keep you, our members and other interested parties, up-to-date with local issues, your Association’s views on these issues and what we are doing about them.
It’s important that you let us know of any local issues concerning you that you would like us to take up. Please let us know by emailing us:
You can also write to us:
Riverton, Rossmoyne & Shelley Residents’ Association (Inc)
P.O. Box 2034
Rossmoyne, WA 6148
BUILDERS’ COMPLIANCE WITH VERGE REGULATIONS
As the cyclone fences go up and the demolition crews move in almost every week it seems to pull down another 1960s-1970s-vintage house and make way for a new single or dual occupancy, the impacts in our suburbs of demolition and building works on public areas is looming large.
The impacts include unsecured waste left on verges to blow down the street, footpaths cracked by heavy equipment way in excess of the footpaths’ load capacity, waste water from concrete mixing flowing down – and staining – street gutters, and vehicles obstructing footpaths.
RRSRA committee members have recently been focussing on a few particularly problematic construction sites including one on the corner of Corinthian Road and Fifth Avenue and one in Dianne Close, both in Rossmoyne. But the committee’s discussions have also highlighted important generic issues which could affect all demolition/construction sites unless they are addressed.
The first of these is the lack of evident connection between the City of Canning’s Application for permit to use verge during building or development works and the City’s Guidelines for Use of the Verge during building works and development. The RRSRA President, Peter Clayton, said one might at least expect that in making the application, the builder would have to undertake to abide by the Guidelines. “But there is no such requirement on the application form which refers briefly to only six of the builders’ obligations whereas the Guidelines cover nearly four pages. It would be interesting to survey how many builders working in our suburbs are even aware of the Guidelines. But really, what’s the point of them anyway if they have no legal force? If they are important enough to be included as guidelines then they should be elevated to the status of conditions” Mr Clayton said.
The Association’s second main concern is the adequacy of provisions in the Guidelines. Mr Clayton said the most glaring weakness was the lack of Council site inspections. “The permit fee covers the cost of processing the application and two site inspections – before approval of the application and upon expiration of the Permit. In other words, the inspections are carried out before building commences and the problems can emerge and after the building has been completed and problems have finished. Clearly what is needed are random inspections while the work is going on; these should not just be triggered by residents’ complaints. If these additional inspections necessitate an increase in the paltry $297 permit application fee, then so be it. Application of the current compliance requirements is now not adequate.”
Mr Clayton said the Guidelines should also require a sign listing the conditions of the verge permit usage to be placed in a very visible place so all contractors, trades people, delivery drivers – and members of the public – can see and read it from a distance of about three metres. “These conditions are not just matters between the builder and the City – members of the public need to know what they are so they can identify and report any infringements.”
Speed limits on Riverton Drive North, Shelley
We have been concerned for some time about speeding vehicles along Riverton Drive and the risks they pose, particularly to the sometimes large numbers of people who are accessing their cars parked beside Riverton Drive North while visiting the Canning River foreshore between Beatrice Avenue and Corbel Street in Shelley. We suggested dropping the speed limit to 40 km/h in this section of the road.
In response to the Association’s concerns, the City of Canning advised that under its designation as a Local Distributor Road, Riverton Drive can be expected to ideally carry up to 6000 vehicles per day at an operating speed of 50 – 60km/h. The last traffic survey of Riverton Drive North indicated a daily traffic volume of 1,756 vehicles per weekday, which was travelling at an 85-percentile speed of 58km/h. The 85-percentile speed is the maximum speed that 85 per cent of motorists travel at. “It is recognised as the operating speed of the road and as the general safe speed perceived by motorists. Riverton Drive North falls within those parameters,” the City’s response said.
“Having regard for the function of Riverton Drive North in the road hierarchy, it would be difficult to justify to Main Roads WA (the State’s traffic signing and speed limit authority) to reduce the road’s speed limit. Justification would include, but not [be] limited to, demonstrating high on-going pedestrian activity adjacent to and across the road, which does not appear to be the situation. The City does implement a traffic management plan at times of major foreshore events that attract large crowds.”
However, the City said the issue will be considered in the context of the Shelley Foreshore Masterplan public consultations over the next couple of months.
Congestion at Webb Street/Leach Highway intersection – Rossmoyne
It’s long been recognised as one of the most congested intersections in the region, particularly between 8.00 and 9.00 am and 3.00 and 4.00 pm during school terms, not just because of the volume of traffic but also the proximity of the Webb Street-Bull Creek Road intersection less than 50 metres from the Leach Highway intersection.
Since February last year when the then State Treasurer and Member for Riverton, Dr Mike Nahan, pledged $200,000 in to the City of Canning to improve the intersection, we’ve not heard of any progress on this issue which could be further exacerbated when the eight-storey Rossmoyne Waters development in Bull Creek Road is fully occupied.
The Association committee noted positively at its February meeting the change to the traffic lights with both right and left turning arrows coming on simultaneously. This little change has had a significant impact on waiting times at the intersection, but is obviously not a solution.
The Association is writing to the City of Canning to ask what is the long-term agenda for this intersection. We’ll keep you posted in future News Updates.
Have we enough footpaths?
At the February committee meeting it was suggested that there is a lack of footpaths in our area with people inclined to walk along the roadway rather than across a series of verges and driveways. This can be particularly dangerous at night if a pedestrian is some distance away from a street light and wearing dark clothing.
The committee agreed to ask members to advise us of streets they believe need footpaths, so we can approach the Council.
So please let us know and tell us any particular reasons why you think a footpath is required in that street.