City ‘is try­ing to save trees’

Midland Reporter - - News -

RES­I­DENTS held an emer­gency meet­ing at the week­end amid grow­ing con­cerns the City of Kala­munda is keep­ing them in the dark over the fu­ture of an av­enue of lemon-scented gum trees in Wat­tle Grove.

The trees along Welsh­pool Road East are set to be cut down to al­low for the con­struc­tion of a slip lane to pro­vide ac­cess to the St Peter’s Ja­co­bite Syr­ian Or­tho­dox Church.

Save the Gum Trees of Wat­tle Grove co-or­di­na­tor Vanessa Mazza said the com­mu­nity had been blocked from tak­ing part in dis­cus­sions with stake­hold­ers.

“The coun­cil had given un­der­tak­ings to the com­mu­nity that they would be in­volved in dis­cus­sions about find­ing ways to save the trees which form an im­por­tant en­try state­ment to the Perth Hills,” she said.

“We have been ac­tively ex­cluded by the City from any in­volve­ment in ne­go­ti­a­tions with stake­hold­ers.”

City chief ex­ec­u­tive Rhonda Hardy said Main Roads and de­vel­op­ers from the church group met last week to look at ways to save the trees and still pro­vide safe ac­cess to the church.

“Sev­eral ideas and op­tions were floated, with fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tions be­ing un­der­taken in re­gards to the fea­si­bil­ity,” she said.

“We are hope­ful a new de­sign could be ap­proved, which would pro­tect the trees.”

Ms Hardy said the com­mu­nity was en­cour­aged to sup­port the re­moval of the nearby bus bay and re­duc­ing the speed limit on Welsh­pool Road to 70km/h.

Lo­cal res­i­dent David Har­ri­son said res­i­dents were an­gry to learn about th­ese dis­cus­sions via me­dia state­ments re­leased by the City.

“Con­sid­er­ing it has been the com­mu­nity which has fought with pas­sion and con­vic­tion to save th­ese ma­jes­tic trees, this is no way to treat the lo­cal com­mu­nity,” he said.

“This is yet another ex­am­ple of the City of Kala­munda treat­ing its ratepay­ers and the lo­cal com­mu­nity with dis­dain and dis­re­spect.

“We are be­ing asked to trust the coun­cil to do the right thing when they were the ones who voted to chop down the trees, and did so with­out any mean­ing­ful com­mu­nity con­sul­ta­tion.

“This whole saga has been an episode of buck pass­ing, bu­reau­cratic bungling and a lack of ac­count­abil­ity and trans­parency.”

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