On 12 May, DCSCA Committee members met Councillor John Doull at City Hall. This was the fifth of the quarterly meetings that DCSCA has initiated with the two City of Greater Geelong (CoGG) Councillors whose wards coincide with DCSCA's area - the other is Councillor Rod Macdonald.
It was a very busy and productive meeting!
Roadside council notice boards
First, we raised the issue of the lack of roadside council 'welcome/what's on' notice boards on which to advertise events in our towns. These can be seen in towns elsewhere on the Bellarine, but not in ours. Cllr. Doull said that money was available for this from last year's budget and that he would talk to Cllr. Macdonald about each of them funding signs in their respective wards.
A swimming pool in Drysdale & Clifton SpringsWe said that there is clear - and growing - demand for a swimming pool in Drysdale & Clifton Springs, not least because the Ocean Grove pool is over-subscribed. However, there are no plans for a pool in the regional sports/recreation 'hub' at the junction of Andersons Road and Grubb Road in Drysdale. We suggested out that this is an issue facing people not just in Drysdale & Clifton Springs but along the North Bellarine, especially because of the uncertain future of the pool in Portarlington. We emphasised that although the council has no plans for a opool and despite council officers saying that the case for providing one was weak, DCSCA would persist in raising the matter, because of the strong local feeling about it. Cllr. Doull promised to raise the matter with Mr. Dean Frost (CoGG's Manager of Projects, Recreation & Central Gelong) and to invite him to talk about it at our next quarterly meeting.
Local economic development
DCSCA is suggesting that CoGG builds on the success of the 2011 Festival of Glass and uses the build-up to the 2012 Festival to announce a local business support program (e.g. advice and mentoring, assistance to explore new markets, rates relief) for small art and craft business on the Bellarine. That program could link with the 'Made in Geelong' initiative, which offers small businesses short-term leases on empty shops in central Geelong, enabling small art and craft businesses on the Bellarine - individually or in partnerships - to test their economic viability in a town center. We invited Cllr. Doull to support the proposal and he said that he would discuss it with Mr. Terry Demeo (CoGG's Manager of Planning Strategy and Economic Development), Ms. Kaz Paton (CoGG's Manager of Arts and Culture) and Mr. Steve Bentley (CoGG's Manager of Events, Central Geelong & Waterfront) and get back to us.
Then, we outlined DCSCA's argument that CoGG should build on the growing local concern about rising sea levels to develop the Bellarine Peninsula as a demonstration of a post-carbon economy. Cllr. Doull outlined Future Proofing Geelong - a strategy to develop Geelong in enironmentally sustainable ways - that includes a plan for low-carbon growth. (Future Proofing Geelong is launched today, May 12 2011.) Future Proofing Geelong is to have three 'reference groups' - 'Major Enterprises', 'Small & Medium Enterprises' and 'Community'. Major enterprises in Geelong have been involved in developing Future Proofing Geelong and the other two reference groups will be established in June 2011. Cllr. Doull suggested that we contact Ms Samantha Smith (CoGG's Co-ordinator, Future Proofing Geelong) to ask about becoming involved in the 'Community' reference group. Finally, we suggested that Geelong could use its role as host of the forthcoming Sustainable Economic Growth for Regional Australia conference to showcase some initiatives around local business support and a post-carbon economy. Cllr. Doull said that he would outline Future Proofing Geelong to that conference and that as Cllr. Rod Macdonald was leading preparations for the conference, we should approach him about our possible involvement.
Next, we discussed a series of issues specific to particular areas in our towns. We discussed the uncertainty around whether there would be an official 'launch' at The Dell of the new signage and the new lookout and we said that we would investigate further. Cllr. Doull suggested that we ask Mr. Mark Gallon (CoGG's Manager of Strategic Projects) about the possibility of releasing potable mineral springs water at The Dell by targeted drilling, associated with building another groin to protect the foreshore.
This led to a discussion of the development of a Masterplan for Beacon Point Reserve in Clifton Springs, for which $20,000 has been allocated in the council's 2011/12 budget. Cllr. Doull said that he wanted to see the area kept as a 'wild' place, identified clearly as a Reserve, with the addition of maybe a toilet block, a community meeting place and, perhaps, some appropriate sculpture. We said that DCSCA welcomed the proposal, which reinforces DCSCA's Open Space Network, which we launched last year to protect our remaining open spaces from development. Beacon Point Reserve is one of the nine open spaces in the Network, which we want to see linked by walking/cycling tracks. As a first step, we are seeking grant funding for a Northern Bike Trail (Drysdale Station, to the town centre, to the Recreation Reserve [Market area], to McLeods Waterholes, to Griggs Creek, to the Bay, to the Boat Ramp, to Drysdale station). Cllr. Doull applauded our initiative, advised us to ensure that major road crossings wouldn't be a problem and said that he would be happy to provide us with a letter of support to use in our fund-raising.
Finally, we raised two issues concerning the Springs Street area of Clifton Springs - another site in DCSCA's Open Space Network. First, CoGG recently employed a contractor to spray systemic weedkiller along the water course, with the result that the banks now feature matted dead vegetation. While this may be acceptable action in a drain, local residents have argued strongly that they regard the 'drain' as a water course, i.e. a potentially attractive feature of the area and DCSCA actively supports their view. Second, a new wall has been built between the Bowling Club and an adjacent property with the aim - as we understand it - 0f protecting that property if the Club's new dam is breached. Between the new dam and the new wall lies the Springs Street land - flood-prone already and apparently in danger of further floods from the Club's new dam. We argued that both the spraying and the new wall were ewvidence that the land is unsuitable for 'development' and should be rezoned - in accordance with local people's wishes - as 'Open Space'. Cllr. Doull said that he would talk to CoGG engineers about both issues and get back to us.
DCSCA's next quarterly meeting with Cllr. Doull will be on Thursday 4 August 2011. Any residents of the Drysdale/Clifton Springs area are welcome to ask DCSCA to raise any issue of concern with Cllr. Doull.