Transport Minister Jacinta Allan evaded the question on preserving the trees in the Gandolfo Gardens.
While Minister Allan promises “three times as many trees and plants as are currently in the area”, the reality is that new plantings do not replace the environmental services offered by mature trees for many decades.
It will take 40-50 years growth for new plantings to reach the biodiveristy and habitat, carbon storage, canopy shade of the current trees. Meanwhile, where do all the creatures that rely on these trees go?
The Minister says that the LXRP continues “to engage with the Coburg and Brunswick communities as they provide feedback on aspects of the project including the new open space and Upfield Bike Path improvements created by the elevated rail design.”
Yet the LXRP is already applying for demolition of the Munro Street signal box, covered by an interim protection order of Heritage Victoria, and one tree near the signal box.
The LXRP has failed to engage and consult with the community over this proposal.
The LXRP have not made public their well advanced viaduct plans and the siting of stations so the community can knowledgeably assess design plan proposals.
The Level Crossing Removal Stakeholder Liason Committee, to be chaired by Pascoe Vale MP Lizzie Blandthorn, still has not been convened.
The community is being kept in the dark.
CONSTITUENCY QUESTION —
Dr Read to ask the Minister for Transport Infrastructure (Jun 6, 2019)
My question is for the Minister for Transport Infrastructure, and it refers to the Level Crossing Removal Project along the Upfield line in the north of Melbourne. The picturesque Gandolfo Gardens contain mature trees which are at risk of being cut down as the LXRP uses this as a layover area for equipment. The community is united in wanting to preserve these trees. Seventy-five of them have signed a letter to the minister; there are two community groups. These trees cool the environment and act as a nice screen against the concrete bridge that will be in place. The community really wants these trees protected, so can the minister reassure us that trees within 5 metres of the tracks will be preserved?
Answer: Jacinta Allan MP, Minister for Transport Infrastructure: (August 15, 2019)
I thank the Member for Brunswick for his continued interest in the Andrews Labor Government’s promised elevated rail design that will see the removal of four dangerous and congested level crossings on the Upfield line.
New stations will be built at Coburg and Moreland with the heritage-listed station buildings preserved.
The project will revitalise the local area, create new open space and be a catalyst for further enhancements. Construction starts this year and these level crossings will be gone for good in 2020.
We recognise the VicTrack land next to Moreland Station holds significant value to the local community.
We are investing heavily in making spaces around the elevated rail and new stations leafy and green. These spaces will feature three times as many trees and plants as are currently in the area. The project team has sought initial input to the landscaping and open space plans from the local community.
We have – and will continue – to engage with the Coburg and Brunswick communities as they provide feedback on aspects of the project including the new open space and Upfield Bike Path improvements created by the elevated rail design.
Hon Jacinta Allan MP
Minister for Transport Infrastructure