Mak­ing waves for wrong rea­sons

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Westernopinion -

LIKE Al­fred Cove, Lake Clare­mont has un­der­gone many in­car­na­tions – from the lifeblood of lo­cal Noon­gar peo­ple, to the farm­land of early Euro­pean set­tlers, to rub­bish tip – to rein­car­nated wet­land and nat­u­ral habi­tat.

In both restora­tions, lo­cal coun­cils – Clare­mont Town Coun­cil and Melville City Coun­cil – have been in­stru­men­tal. How strange, then, that while Clare­mont Coun­cil con­tin­ues to mon­i­tor the out­comes of this care and at­ten­tion, its big brother coun­cil south of the river is propos­ing to con­struct an over­sized recre­ational/com­mer­cial fa­cil­ity on prime Swan River fore­shore land.

Clare­mont Coun­cil sup­ported the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of a part of Clare­mont golf course and other land ad­join­ing the for­merly de­graded Lake Clare­mont, a project that has at­tained world­wide recog­ni­tion for its suc­cess­ful restora­tion of a wet­land ecosys­tem. The coun­cil is now mon­i­tor­ing the con­tri­bu­tion of this ur­ban wet­land to lo­cals’ qual­ity of life.

Melville Coun­cil, through the con­struc­tion of the Al­fred Cove Wave Park, pro­poses to do the di­rect op­po­site: to ap­pro­pri­ate 4.4 ha of prime river­front land, cur­rently zoned as 'Bush For­ever', Crown Land and Pub­lic Open Space, to con­vert it to a high-in­ten­sity com­mer­cial ven­ture, alien­at­ing it for 50 years (mean­ing for­ever) from free pub­lic ac­cess and its at­ten­dant con­tri­bu­tion to lo­cal qual­ity of life. This project will de­stroy a sig­nif­i­cant part of the iconic vista that the river pro­vides to the city and it will risk the en­vi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits that ac­crue from this wet­land ecosys­tem, which the coun­cil it­self has en­shrined in pro­tec­tive leg­is­la­tion, and which it now pro­poses to over­ride.

With the trans­fer of the Melville Bowl­ing Club to a new lo­ca­tion, Melville Coun­cil has the op­por­tu­nity to em­u­late the suc­cess­ful Lake Clare­mont project. In­stead, the coun­cil is hell-bent on chas­ing a very ex­pen­sive dol­lar in its de­sire to en­hance the 'place ac­ti­va­tion' of the site. The pro­posed wave park is over-sized, over-com­mer­cial­ized, and over-'ac­ti­vated'. Not only a wave pool, but a climb­ing wall, mini golf, a BMX track and an in­dus­trial-scale build­ing to host nu­mer­ous com­mer­cial ac­tiv­i­ties, which in­clude a liquor out­let,will be needed to make the fa­cil­ity com­mer­cially vi­able. This will be ac­com­pa­nied by day-long noise and nui­sance, end­less ve­hi­cle move­ments and traf­fic con­ges­tion, and the re­sump­tion of pub­lic land, all for a 17-sec­ond, high-cost thrill for those few pre­pared to pay the $20$40 charge.

Clare­mont Coun­cil will be ap­plauded for its fore­sight for years to come, while Melville res­i­dents and passers-by will be forced to live with the ir­re­spon­si­ble and cyn­i­cal plan­ning de­ci­sions of its cur­rent elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives for­ever.

MAR­GARET WAR­BUR­TON, Palmyra.

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