IT comes too late to save Greg Merlo’s community garden, but Mornington Peninsula Shire seems to have turned a new leaf in its appreciation of roadside vegetable and flower plots.
The Balnarring resident, 82, became a local hero last year when he turned a vacant public walkway into a productive haven where neighbours could pick their own vegetables, chat with neighbours and learn about plants – until council workmen laid it bare (“Red tape crushes a ‘community’ garden” The News 16/8/21).
But the penny seems to have dropped, with the council at its 30 August meeting adopting Cr David Gill’s idea to begin promoting discussion and listening to community views on roadside gardens on nature strips in residential areas.
The idea is to “learn more about the issues and concerns and take guidance on community attitudes to improving our streetscapes and ensuring environmentally friendly outcomes” for residents.
A policy will be developed that will include the normal consultation and feedback process.
The shire’s natural systems team leader Simon Thorning told council the move was in line with an officers’ plan to develop a policy for private works on nature strips and road reserves, which would consider other green infrastructure and their role in future-proofing towns and villages to climate change.
Mr Thorning recommended that officers develop background information and assess ways for residents to get involved, including through a questionnaire. Background information could include details about urban greening and explore the different ways of thinking about the urban environment, including nature strips, and reference relevant existing council policies.
Cr Gill also successfully moved an urgent review of the shire’s policies for private works on nature strips and reserves and community gardens to clarify the council’s position in regard to the planning of communal edible gardens on nature strips and reserves within residential areas.
The issue will be referred to the policy councillor consultative group before 14 October.