Council Meeting Recap - 28 September, 2021

Published on 29 September 2021

A couple watches a screen featuring a live-streamed Council meeting.

In case you missed the recent Council meeting, here’s a quick recap of what was discussed.

If you'd like to find out more about any of these items, you can read the Council Agenda in full or watch a recording of the meeting here.

7.1 – Audit and Risk Management Committee Biannual Report

Council has noted its Audit and Risk Management Committee’s Bi-Annual Report at its meeting on 28 September.

The Audit and Risk Management Committee was established by Council as part of its obligations under the Local Government Act.

The Committee provides Council with independent, objective advice and assurance on the adequacy of management arrangements, as set out in its charter.

The report noted the Committee’s activities between 30 November, 2020 and 30 August, 2021, where it met three times to review various parts of Council’s work and response to performance reports.

Councillors noted the report at the meeting.

The report is contained in the 28 September Meeting Agenda.

7.2. - Audit and Risk Management Charter

Council has endorsed amendments to the Audit and Risk Management Committee’s Charter.

The Charter was last adopted by Council in August 2020 and has since been reviewed and updated to align with the Local Government Act 2020.

The Committee met in February and May this year to discuss and support changes to the charter, which include:

  • Improving the alignment of responsibilities between the Charter and the Internal Audit Charter and,
  • Reconsidering the use of the term “oversight” in the Charter, recognising the Committee’s role is of an advisory capacity, except where there is a legislative mandate.

Councillors voted to endorse the charter, which can be viewed in full in the meeting agenda.

7.3 – Tree matter outside 2 Milgate Court, Mooroolbark

Councillors have voted to remove a tree outside of 2 Milgate Court, Mooroolbark, following a request from a resident regarding falling nuts.

The tree is a native specimen and an arborist assessment report found the tree to have high amenity value and be in good-to-fair condition, with a low-risk to the community.

The community member asked for the tree to be removed as it dropped large nuts that made lawn mowing difficult, posed a risk of causing damage from the lawn mower and made for a footpath hazard.

Council’s Trees Team had never previously removed a tree for this reason, and the Agenda’s Officer’s Report recommended to retain the tree.

Councillor Richard Higgins moved an alternate recommendation, which recommended the tree be removed and the replanting of an appropriate street tree in its place.

Cr Higgins cited the risk of the falling nuts to people skateboarding or walking on the path, along with the mowing risks outlined by the community member.

A majority of Councillors voted in favour of the alternate recommendation to remove the tree.

The residents of Milgate Court will be consulted on the planting of street trees over the coming planting season.

7.4. – 2021/22 Capital Development Grants Program

Council has endorsed $160,000 in funding for sport and recreation clubs around Yarra Ranges, through its 2021/22 Capital Development Grants program.

Councillors voted to endorse the grant funding, which will be distributed to 13 clubs to fund various projects to improve their facilities.

The Capital Development Grants offer funding of up to $30,000 for sport and recreation organisations for infrastructure/capital improvement on land managed/maintained by Council under a lease/licence or annual/seasonal tenancy.

This year’s Capital Development Grants will provide funding for:

  • New storage sheds for bowls and maintenance equipment for the Yarra Glen Bowls Club
  • A new electronic scoreboard for Silvan Football Club
  • A croquet court upgrade for the Lilydale Croquet Club
  • Behind-goal netting for the Olinda Ferny Creek Junior Football Club
  • Upgrade to netball clubrooms for the Mount Evelyn Netball Club
  • A new synthetic pitch for the Upwey Tecoma Cricket Club
  • Security and audio upgrade for the Doongala Adult Riders Club
  • Rabbit-proof fencing for the Yarra Junction Bowling Club
  • A pony/horse wash bay for the Seville Pony Club
  • A coaches box and storage shed installation for Woori Yallock Community and Sports Club Inc
  • Ambient upgrades for the Upwey South Tennis Club
  • A new carpet for clubrooms for the Yarra Junction Cricket Club
  • Rabbit-proof fencing for the Lilydale and District Model Flying Association

Successful clubs will also contribute at least 50% funding to the grant-funded projects.

Councillors noted the commitment of local sporting clubs, in fundraising and contributing to the successful projects.

7.5, 7.8, 7.9 and 7.10 – Intentions to Levy Special Charges in Millgrove and Lilydale

Community members on several roads in Millgrove and Lilydale will be notified of Council’s intention to levy a Special Charge to seal their roads, as part of the Federal Government-funded Roads for the Community Program.

Councillors discussed a proposal to levy a special charge to construct these roads as part of Roads for the Community:

  • Hearse Road, Millgrove
  • Adrienne Court and Maxwell Court, Millgrove
  • Black Street and Robert Street, Lilydale
  • Morna Street and Oaks Street, Lilydale

The Roads for the Community Program is a $150m Federal Government-funded program to seal roads across Yarra Ranges.

Traditionally, sealing of unsealed roads is done via a Special Charge Scheme, where Council and property owners on the affected roads both contribute to the construction cost, with property owners repaying their contribution through the property rates over 10 years.

The Federal funding will subsidise community member contributions for the sealing the roads, dramatically reducing the out-of-pocket costs for property owners and enabling Council to seal more than 100 kilometres of unsealed roads.

Community members on affected parts of the above roads will be contacted in writing, informing them of Council's intention to levy a special charge.

Find out more about the program - and the priority roads we've proposed for construction - here

7.6 – Rivers and Ridges Update

Councillors and the public were provided with a detailed update on the Rivers and Ridges projects: the Warburton Mountain Bike Destination, RidgeWalk and Yarra Valley Trail.

Rivers and Ridges is a strategic approach to expanding the network of cultural and recreational experiences in the region, with more than 160km of mountain biking, cycling and walking trails to connect townships through the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges.

While each project is unique to its setting and provides different recreational and cultural experiences, these projects work together to promote increased tourism, health and wellbeing, sustainable economic growth and job creation.

Over the last four years, Council has invested $7.2m in the three projects and secured $22.4m in funding from the Federal Government, State Government and the Upper Yarra Community Enterprise (for the Warburton Mountain Bike Destination Stage 1).

Below is a recap of the project updates:

Warburton Mountain Bike Destination

Click here for a detailed update on the Warburton Mountain Bike Destination, including the current Environmental Effects Statement.

RidgeWalk

Planning for RidgeWalk continues positively, but has been largely impacted by the June storms, causing delays to some works.

The townships linked by RidgeWalk – Mount Evelyn, Montrose, Kalorama, Mount Dandenong, Sassafras, Olinda and Sherbrooke – were among the hardest hit by the recent storms, with the extent of the impact on nearby forests still largely unknown due to trees down or unsafe access.

Council is partnering with Parks Victoria to prioritise trail assessment and clearance, and will work with partner agencies to review the project and its milestones in the context of the recent damage.

Meanwhile, the RidgeWalk Indigenous Advisory Network has been established with an extremely productive first meeting in June.

Expressions of Interest are currently being assessed for a Creative Advisory Panel for the project, and a project manager has been appointed for the Writing RidgeWalk project.

For more information about RidgeWalk, visit the project page.

Yarra Valley Trail

Work continues on delivering Stage 1B of this project, which will connect the 1A stage (Lilydale to Yering) to Yarra Glen township.

The planning permit has recently been submitted for this stage of the project, and subject to approval, Council expects construction may be able to commence in early-2022.

The Coldstream Railway Station site will have a pump track, car park and amenities constructed, with detailed design continuing. The site is currently being used to store, transfer and process green waste from the June storms cleanup.

Construction of Stage 1B is technically challenging, given the reinstatement of heritage railway bridges (destroyed in the 2009 bushfires), the earth mound viaduct a new bridge across the Yarra River and a long boardwalk approach to Yarra Glen Station across a floodplain.

Work is continuing on design and studies for the future stages of the project.

To read the full updates on the project, read the Council Agenda.

7.7. – CT6753 – Design and Construction of Netball Court Shelters at Pinks Reserve, Kilsyth

Council has awarded a tender for the design and construction of netball court shelters at Pinks Reserve to Greenline Construction Pty Ltd.

Currently, the Pinks Netball Precinct contains 12 netball courts and a pavilion. Two netball courts were covered with shelters in 2017/18 to enable increased participation and the ability to train and run events during bad weather.

However, demand for undercover courts has continued to grow, and this project aims to provide a further three courts with shelters, with the option of constructing a fourth if the budget permits.

These works also include a sound wall to the north and east of the new courts to mitigate noise and light impacts to nearby residents.

The tender of $2,154,955 inclusive of GST, was awarded at the Council meeting, with the option of extending the works to include the construction of another court shelter (at a cost of $687,700) if additional funds can be sourced during the construction period.

The funding for this tender has been received by the State Government as part of the October 2018 election commitment and subsequent funding allocations. 

7.11 – Storm Recovery Update

Councillors have noted the impacts of the June storm and the continued work being done to support storm-affected communities, with an update to recovery works provided at the meeting.

On 9 June, wind speeds above 120km/h caused extensive damage to trees and infrastructure, causing widespread power outages.

74 residences were damaged to the point of being uninhabitable and, at the peak of the storm’s impact, 54,000 residents were left without power.

A dedicated Yarra Ranges Council Recovery Directorate has been established to ensure focussed coordination of recovery activities associated with the storm, flood and COVID-19 pandemic at the Local Government level. This work includes establishing Community Recovery Committees, multi-agency forums and continued liaison with Bushfire Recovery Victoria.

For the full update on storm recovery initiatives, read the Council Agenda (page 133 onwards).

Council has recently set up a Support webpage, with useful information, advice and FAQs about the ongoing storm recovery.

Click here to visit the Support webpage

9.1 – Urgent Motion – Seasonal Worker Accommodation

Council will write to the State Government, asking for urgent changes to Green Wedge Zoning to better accommodate seasonal workers.

On 23 September, 2021, the Minister for Planning approved Amendment VC202, which removed the need for planning approval for worker accommodation for up to 10 people where the Farming Zone applies.

A significant proportion of agricultural land in Yarra Ranges is located on Green Wedge Zoned land, and seasonal worker accommodation is a critical issue for the region.

The Yarra Ranges is an important food and wine-producing region, with a world-class reputation for quality and a beautiful location, providing a stunning tourist experience.

When international borders closed due to the pandemic in 2020, many of the 761 agribusinesses in the region struggled to source seasonal workers for the 2020/21 harvest.

The National Lost Crop Register of December 2020 reported losses of about $300,000 in berries alone in the Yarra Ranges. Unharvested crops also pose a significant biosecurity risk to local agriculture.

Worker accommodation is critical for many agribusinesses in Yarra Ranges, assisting in securing the essential seasonal labour force over peak harvesting season.

Council will write to the Minister of Planning, asking that similar changes to VC202 are introduced for Green Wedge Zone land, to enable establishment of worker accommodation for seasonal workers.