Bikes to be banned from river diversion project
The muddy processes behind the Shire-led winter diversion project became even muddier this week as a previous council decision was revoked and new ones deferred.
However, advocates of the riverside trail project had a win, with the council ruling that no bicycles of any kind would be allowed on the path.
The winter diversion project was initially a dual-use path following the Margaret River to the coast, designed as a second path option for track walkers during the wet season.
A motion foreshadowed by Margaret River ward council- lor Pam Townshend went before members on Wednesday night, with a public gallery of council watchers waiting for a breakthrough in the stalled and divisive project.
Conservationists and friends of the indigenous community have argued the natural heritage of sections of the half-built track need to be preserved after the Friends of the Cape to Cape Track project grew to include possible use by mountain bikers.
However, a council intervention last year stirred further dramas with some conflicting and redundant instructions making it difficult for officers to progress detailed environ- mental and Aboriginal heritage assessments of the river foreshore which were “omitted” during the initial phase of the project.
Wednesday night’s decision also instructed officers to seek to buy a land parcel adjacent to prized melaleucas, nixing chief executive Gary Evershed’s preference for a worldclass boardwalk to be built through the swamp.
Councillors unanimously backed banning bikes and the land purchase proposal.
“I think it’s important we make a decision to finally keep bikes off the track,” Cr Townshend said.
Keen mountain biker Peter Lane said the diversion was too dangerous for riders.
“It’s ridiculous to think it could be used as a dual-use path,” he said.
Cr Townshend also sought to establish a working group to include Wardandi expertise about the Margaret River but concerns councillors involved in the group might rule themselves out of council decisions because of potential conflicts of interests triggered a deferral for further legal advice.
A Shire-commissioned Aboriginal heritage assessment started this week and further debate on changes to the contract were discussed during confidential deliberations.