School site anger

Canning Times - - FRONT PAGE - Ben Smith

WHAT used to be a pri­mary school has be­came a source of night­mares for a group of Fern­dale res­i­dents.

While the old Kin­lock Pri­mary School used to house ea­ger stu­dents, nearby res­i­dents now con­sider it a fire haz­ard in the mid­dle of sub­ur­bia and home to dan­ger­ous snakes and dumped rub­bish.

Ear­lier this year, the De­part­ment of Com­mu­ni­ties an­nounced the land was slated for in­fill de­vel­op­ment but neigh­bours have been an­gry over main­te­nance since the school was de­mol­ished in 2007.

Lo­cal res­i­dent Janet Vaughan said she and her neigh­bours were sick of the land look­ing like an eye­sore and were forced to cam­paign for grass to be cut ever year.

“It seems the slash­ing is done ac­cord­ing to dates rather than need and this year has been par­tic­u­larly bad as far as grass growth is con­cerned,” she said.

Liv­ing across the road from the site in sum­mer presents a num­ber of con­cerns for Mrs Vaughan, in­clud­ing the dan­ger of snakes and bush­fires.

“I had a 1.5m dugite in my back­yard re­cently; we had a good, long look at each other be­fore I walked back very slowly,” she said.

“If any of us leave our yards to be­come over­grown and a fire haz­ard, we will be fined $5000 by the coun­cil, but it seems as if it’s a gov­ern­ment au­thor­ity, noth­ing hap­pens. It is a fire risk as it is now; there are some large trees that if they go up, they are in the midst of res­i­den­tial ar­eas.”

Her neigh­bour Chris Fo­ley said she was sick of the land be­ing used as a dump­ing site and was forced to con­tact the de­part­ment and City of Can­ning on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions.

“Ev­ery day we have to go and face this,” she said.

“I got our bills and I was go­ing to ask for a dis­count to put up with this across the road.

“I started the emails be­fore the last school hol­i­days and all I’m getting is ‘it’s not our prob­lem’.

“Ev­ery­body in this area has ac­tu­ally re­ally good gar­dens where noth­ing is over­grown and then you’ve got to face that and it’s like a slap in the face.”

City of Can­ning Mayor Paul Ng con­firmed the City had re­ceived a num­ber of com­plaints about the land and found the site was found to be in breach of the an­nual fire haz­ard no­tice on Oc­to­ber 24.

“The land be­ing owned by the State Gov­ern­ment is not bound by the re­quire­ments of the Bush Fires Act 1954, how­ever the De­part­ment of Com­mu­ni­ties does have a duty of care to en­sure the fire risk is min­imised,” he said.

De­part­ment of Com­mu­ni­ties as­sis­tant di­rec­tor of gen­eral com­mer­cial op­er­a­tions Greg Cash con­firmed it had re­ceived four com­plaints this year about the site, but all were re­lated to il­le­gal rub­bish dump­ing, not over­grown grass. Mr Cash said they sprayed the lot to re­duce fuel load in Au­gust and a con­trac­tor vis­ited the site on Fri­day to slash the re­growth.

“The land is main­tained an­nu­ally to re­duce fuel load in readi­ness for the fire sea­son,” he said.

“Af­ter that, land main­te­nance is un­der­taken only as con­di­tions re­quire it.

“This may oc­cur when the need is iden­ti­fied by the coun­cil, lo­cal res­i­dents, or drive-by in­spec­tions by de­part­ment of­fi­cers.”

Pic­ture: David Baylis d488609

Fern­dale res­i­dents Chris Fo­ley, Ian and Janet Vaughan and Jan­ice Far­rell at the old Kin­lock Pri­mary School site.

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