Making waves for wrong reasons
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.