What: Community Rally at Gandolfo Gardens
When: Sunday October 20th 2pm
Photos: Hi Res photos available from Upfield Corridor Coalition album
Members of the Brunswick and Coburg communities and some well-known local identities will rally together this Sunday to protest a Victorian Government plan to destroy more than 100 trees in a Heritage Reserve.
The much-loved Gandolfo Gardens, which surround the heritage-registered Moreland train station, will be completely razed to make way for equipment being used to build a 2.5km elevated rail for the Moreland-Bell Level Crossing Removal Project in 2020.
Local residents have long argued a more suitable site should have been found – including a car park just 30 metres away – to house cranes and equipment that will be used during construction.
Some of the trees in the gardens are believed to have been planted in the late 1800s and early 1900s, with the majority planted in the 1950s or 60s. Many of the trees to be felled were rated as having a “high” arboriculture value in a recent report prepared for the City of Moreland. The report estimated the value of the most significant trees to be about $1million to the local community and recommended they be a “priority for retention during the level crossing removal process”.
Jane Holroyd from volunteer gardening group Upfield Urban Forest said the community could not stand to lose the trees in an area that already has poor canopy cover (13 per cent) compared to many parts of Melbourne.
“We can’t afford to be losing large trees that have established resilience over decades in the face of a warming climate.
“We don’t accept the Government’s argument that a narrow rail corridor necessitates the destruction of this entire park and promises to plant new trees just don’t cut it.”
Local resident Vanessa Flynn said she was outraged that Victoria’s Planning Minister Richard Wynne had recently cut short an assessment by Heritage Victoria of community submissions opposing aspects of the project, including the demolition of the trees and other historic features such as signal boxes and gates on the heritage listed Upfield train line.
“It’s a real slap in the face to this community that the LXRP has not taken up recommendations to amend construction and building designs to accommodate the mature trees and now there will be no outside party assessing the merit of the construction plans,” said Ms Flynn.
Speakers including community members, local councillor Sue Bolton, local author Shane Maloney and former Coburg boy Rod Quantock will outline community demands for a better Level Crossing Removal Project including better outcomes for walkers, cyclists and public transport users.
Rod Quantock was unable to attend due to family circumstances. About 200-250 people attended the rally, which then marched east along Moreland Road, then up Sydney Road to Carron Street, then back along the Upfield Bike Path tp Moreland Road. Police provided an escort for the march.