Avon Valley Gazette - - OPINION -

KALA­MUNDA ratepayer Shire Ac­tion Group needs to se­ri­ously look again at the bound­aries of the Shire to­day, the ar­eas of potential de­vel­op­ment and the way this coun­cil op­er­ates.

There are only 12 ' mum and dad' Coun­cil­lors to sup­pos­edly rep­re­sent 60,000 peo­ple.

Fur­ther­more, very few res­i­dents now take any se­ri­ous in­ter­est in their for­mal pro­ceed­ings un­less some­thing is ru­moured to be un­der con­sid­er­a­tion that ap­pears to af­fect them very per­son­ally.

Hardly any ratepay­ers were present when a de­ci­sion to make the change was pro­posed at the coun­cil meet­ing on Novem­ber 28.

The rea­sons for the pro­posal were stated on pages 203- 4 of the agenda pa­pers, pub­licly avail­able as is usual on the pre­ced­ing Thurs­day.

One wonders if any­one other than Coun­cil­lors ac­tu­ally read them, since there is pub­lic ques­tion time and op­por­tu­nity for del­e­ga­tions at the start of ev­ery meet­ing?

The level of ap­a­thy amongst ratepay­ers about this shire and coun­cil busi­ness is very high, yet these few peo­ple are ac­tu­ally en­trusted with a huge bud­get and all plan­ning de­ci­sions re­gard­ing the fu­ture ur­ban and ru­ral as­pects of de­vel­op­ing all ar­eas around our homes.

Pub­lic ap­a­thy was fur­ther demon­strated very re­cently when the Shire en­gaged the com­mu­nity in a re­view and up­dat­ing of its for­ward Com­mu­nity Strate­gic Plan, that is the means by which it sets pri­or­i­ties and mea­sures its per­for­mance.

The ex­tremely low pub­lic at­ten­dance at those meet­ings and writ­ten in­put fur­ther il­lus­trates this ap­a­thy.

The shire and coun­cil are also them­selves ac­tu­ally re­spon­si­ble for man­ag­ing the over­all process of ' com­mu­nity en­gage­ment,' but that is ob­vi­ously now out of date and demon­stra­bly in­ad­e­quate.

The Kala­munda ' vil­lage' set­tle­ment it­self, in what was a pre­dom­i­nantly ru­ral set­ting pop­u­lated mainly by lovers of natural en­vi­ron­ment and treechange ad­her­ents, is fast be­com­ing a mi­nor­ity in­ter­est part of the shire.

Mas­sive fu­ture growth is ex­pected else­where, as in the low­land lo­cal­i­ties of For­rest­field North and High Wy­combe when the new rail sta­tion is com­pleted in 2020.

In hind­sight, many lo­cal Kala­munda res­i­dents who are ob­ject­ing to ' city' sta­tus were those highly vo­cal in sim­ply op­pos­ing amal­ga­ma­tion with Bel­mont.

That was pro­posed to strengthen the num­ber and pro­fes­sional cal­i­bre of Shire staffing to cope with plan­ning and man­ag­ing fu­ture de­vel­op­ment as part of the rapidly grow­ing ur­ban Perth City Region.

Some of us then ar­gued there was more log­i­cal sense in amal­ga­ma­tion of the Kala­munda Hills part of the Shire with Mun­dar­ing - that ob­vi­ously has sim­i­lar ru­ral eco­nomic val­ues and bio- di­verse ter­rain.

Maybe city sta­tus is in­evitable for the low­land ' foothills ar­eas, why not then re­visit amal­ga­ma­tions but dif­fer­ently?

Place the Kala­munda Scar­p­land ter­ri­tory with Mun­dar­ing, re­or­gan­ise and re­name this as a per­ma­nent Hills Shire region.

This could help pri­ori­tise both lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional tourism and se­ri­ously show- case the Hills or­chard­ing and natural tree- shaded na­tive bio- di­verse en­vi­ron­ment as a ma­jor eco­nomic, so­cial and recre­ational park­land as­set. PETER FOR­REST, Kala­munda.

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