Monday, March 16, 2009

Route 86 Westgarth consultation extended

The deadline for submissions on the City of Darebin's Route 86 project taking in the High Street segment of Westgarth will be extended from 27 March to 14 April following a motion by Rucker Ward Councillor Trent McCarthy at tonight's Darebin Council meeting.

In response to resident concerns over the short timeframe of the consultation, Councillor McCarthy moved that the consultation be extended to the April date, and that further roundtable discussions take place between Council officers, stakeholders and community members regarding issues arising from the proposals.

Farce threatened the motion as councillor after councillor declared their inability to vote due to a conflict of interest for reasons of 'indirect interest by close association', reducing the councillors available for the vote to numbers insufficient for a quorum.

The conflicted councillors included Steven Tsitas and Diana Asmar, who represent Rucker Ward together with Trent McCarthy and had earlier in the meeting included in their activity reports having dealt with constituents on Route 86 issues. Had the motion been postponed to a subsequent Council meeting, this would have carried deliberations about a possible extension beyond the current submissions deadline of Friday 27 March.

Fortunately, Darebin CEO Michael Ulbrick stepped in to advise that an extension would be granted by officers in the interests of better consultation informing the ultimate Council vote. This was a most welcome development, but the test now will be whether this assurance lives up to the substance of Councillor McCarthy's motion.

Roundtable discussions must particularly include those affected by the proposed closure of the splitter island at the south-west corner of the intersection of Westgarth and High streets, Westgarth businesses and residents affected by proposed reductions in parking, and cyclists.

While more time doesn't necessarily guarantee that the issues will be addressed, it increases the odds of that happening. The challenge now is for the community to mobilise to ensure their concerns are very clearly articulated and fed into the process. On Council's part, they'll need to do some genuine thinking about the options presented to ensure issues raised here are adequately addressed.

See all posts on the Tram Route 86 Corridor Project

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