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Friday, May 7, 2010

DCSCA meets Cllr. Rod Macdonald (2)

On 7 May, DCSCA committee members met Councillor Rod Macdonald at Geelong City Hall. This was the second of a series of quarterly meetings that DCSCA has initiated with the two Councillors whose wards coincide with DCSCA's area - the other is Councillor John Doull, with whom we had our second quarterly meeting on 19 April. (See DCSCA meets Cllr. John Doull (2), Tuesday, April 20, 2010 on this blog.)

This meeting, like its predecessor, was positive and productive. First, we discussed the 'Special Charges' that CoGG is using to fund new infrastructure, such as the proposed drain in the Central Road area of Clifton Springs. Cllr. Macdonald said that he agrees with Special Charges on equity grounds, i.e. when publicly funded infrastructure (e.g. footpaths, drains) adds value to a property, that property's owner should pay part of the cost. When people buy properties where such infrastructure is already in place, a developer will have already paid some or all of the cost, so there is no need to levy a Special Charge to recover it.

Regarding the Central Road scheme, Cllr. Macdonald said that some property owners have agreed to pay the whole of their share of the cost outside of the Special Charge scheme and through a Section 173 Agreement. They will be reimbursed a share of the cost by the developer. He also said that CoGG will take the final decision on how people will pay their Special Charge only after CoGG's internal Submissions Panel has heard from people who submitted their views. Cllr. Macdonald agreed that DCSCA's suggestion that caveats be placed on title deeds (so that the Charge is payable only when the added value is realised) is a possible way forward.

Next, we said that CoGG's Manager of Community Development Mr. Paul Jamieson, had failed to reply to DCSCA's letter to him in January about CoGG proposals for Drysdale Town Centre. Cllr. Macdonald said that he will ask Paul Jamieson why he hasn't replied.

The third item on the agenda was CoGG's consultation policy/practices - specifically, DCSCA's draft Consultation Policy for CoGG. Cllr. Macdonald said that he believes that present CoGG policies and practices around consultation are working well, but accepts that CoGG has no evidence to substantiate this. He will read DCSCA's draft Consultation Policy and respond to it. He asked DCSCA to alert him when officers' reports deal with consultation submissions in summary only and said he would ask why there wasn't more detail.

Our final topic for discussion was CoGG's forthcoming budget and plan for 2010/11 and whether money is allocated to specific projects or to project areas. Cllr. Macdonald said that most funding goes to program areas, which will have proposed specific projects, so new projects won't be funded in 2010/11. However, there can be some room within a program to re-order priorities and new projects may fit within this. We asked whether it would be possible to apply for funds for signage at the entrance to Drysdale. Cllr. Macdonald said that a 'Welcome' sign and a 'community notice board' could be funded by Councillors' Community Grants. He also said that in Leopold, the community bank sponsors a community notice board, places items in it and removes them when they're out of date. DCSCA might explore a similar arrangement for Drysdale & Clifton Springs.

Still on the subject of projects, DCSCA has started to consider how we keep our green spaces free from 'over-structured' play and recreation, i.e. leave them much as they are. Cllr. Macdonald believes that open spaces should be attractive and should contribute to a sense of community as people use them. Thus, they might be improved minimally by, e.g., new planting and/or landscaping, new seats. There should be a balance between sites with facilities for 'active' recreation/leisure and sites that are purely for 'passive' recreation/leisure.

Finally, we brought Cllr. Macdonald up to date with recent DCSCA actions. First, preparations for the Festival of Glass (February 2011). He remains very supportive and suggested various people to contact re different aspects of organising the Festival. Second, DCSCA's recent public information session on Planning Panels; and third, DCSCA's next quarterly Public Meeting (scheduled for 2 June at 7.00 p.m. at SpringDale), which will consider recreation and leisure in our community.

Our next quarterly meeting with Cllr. Macdonald will be on 6 August at 10.00 a.m. at City Hall.

Would you like us to discuss any issues with Cllr. Macdonald at that meeting? If so, please leave a comment below, e-mail DCSCA: or write to DCSCA at P.O. Box 581, Drysdale 3222.

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