Brunswick Residents Newsletter, November 2022

Brunswick state election results so far. Community Zoom forum on Brunswick Skyrail. Plus our regular round-up of planning and traffic issues, cultural events, and a spot of local history.

Brunswick Residents Network News:
November 2022

Dr Tim Read continues as Brunswick MP with solid majority. BRN Zoom forum next Monday, discussing responses to Brunswick Skyrail.

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BRN community forum on Brunswick level crossing removals

Railway bridge over roadOn Monday 5 December at 6pm, Brunswick Residents Network will host an online discussion about the new sky rail and level crossing removals in Brunswick, to be rolled out by the Level Crossing Removal Project (LRXP).

In September 2022, in the lead up to the state elections, the Victorian Government announced plans to remove eight level crossings on the Upfield Rail Line between Park Street, Parkville and Albion Street, Brunswick. An elevated train line, with new train stations, will replace the existing train line by 2027.

What are the implications for Brunswick residents and businesses during the construction phase, such as noise, relocation of tenants from adjoining properties and the closure of the Upfield shared path? How can we ensure that there will be better cycling and pedestrian paths, traffic safely and open space? Will out streets fill up with more east-west traffic? What will happen to Sydney Road, during and after construction? While they’re at it, will the government fund the duplication of the Upfield line north of Gowrie?

BRN is hosting this one-hour zoom session to help individuals and community organisations develop an early and effective response, before plans are finalised and LXRP releases draft proposals. It’s vital that community members discuss the positives and potential negatives of this project, and prepare to press the newly re-elected State government for better outcomes.

BRN will be joining with affected residents and local community groups in 2023 to propose improvements to LXRP, as further details emerge. During the removal of level crossings in Coburg, LXRP tore down heritage buildings and mature trees at Gandalfo Gardens with impunity. LXRP have a notorious reputation for refusing to engage properly with the local community, and the project is exempt from the normal planning systems of appeal and review.

So how can we get the best result from this major infrastructure project? The discussion has already started, so let’s keep it going!

The proposed level crossing removals will be at

  1. Park Street, Parkville
  2. Brunswick Road, Brunswick
  3. Union Street, Brunswick
  4. Dawson Street, Brunswick
  5. Albert Street, Brunswick
  6. Victoria Street, Brunswick
  7. Hope Street, Brunswick
  8. Albion Street, Brunswick

Merri-bek Council officers are preparing a detailed discussion paper to guide and encourage community feedback, but what do YOU want? In early 2023, LXRP will begin some community consultation through the “Engage Victoria” website, here: engage.vic.gov.au/bigbuild.

WHAT: BRN online Forum – Brunswick Skyrail: Concerns and priorities
WHEN: Monday 5 December 2022, 6pm-7pm.
WHERE: Online.  Zoom link for the night: https://tinyurl.com/47svekyx
PROMOTE ON FACEBOOK – share Event
INFO: contact BRN on 0421 840100

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Tim Read wins Brunswick again 

The member for Brunswick in the State Parliament, Tim Read of the Australian Greens, has been elected to a second term at the state elections on Saturday 26 November. Congratulations Tim!

As we go to press, final results are still to be announced, but on current counting of the two-candidate preferred vote, Tim Read had gained 21,492 votes (63.24%) against 12,492 (36.76%) for Mike Williams of the Australian Labor Party (ALP).

Victorian Electoral Commission – Brunswick District Results

Read has slightly increased the margin of primary votes compared to his first victory in 2018, but preferences from other candidates flowed strongly to give the Greens a two-candidate preferred swing of 11.3%.

It is a significant margin, given the close results in other Greens/ALP inner-city contests in Northcote, Albert Park and Pascoe Vale. Brunswick Voice reports that “Dr. Read went close to securing the seat on the primary vote alone, winning all 14 booths in the Brunswick district, some by a ratio of two to one against his main opponent Labor’s Mike Williams.”

If you want to remind yourself about Tim Read’s campaign promises, or issues raised by other candidates, here’s a link to the livestream of the 2022 BRN Brunswick Candidates’ Forum in October:

Participants in the debate were Rachel Lamarche, (Animal Justice Party); Tim Read MLA (Greens); Shea Evans (Reason Party); Nahui Jiminez (Victorian Socialists); and Mike Williams (ALP), with an apology from George Georgiou (who despite distributing leaflets, did not appear on the ballot paper).

Thanks to all those people who came along to the BRN candidates’ forum, either online or in person. Thanks also to Brunswick Uniting Church for providing a beautiful space to host this meeting, and to our chair for the night, local resident Dan Ziffer.

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Election planning forum: watch the video

In the lead up to the state elections, BRN ran an online forum about State Government urban development and planning priorities after the election, with Victorian planning expert Stephen Rowley.

A major focus of the one-hour session was the possible threat to resident rights of notification, appeal and review.  The Andrews government has discussed a new performance assessment model (PAM) that may reduce community input into planning applications and the issuing of planning permits.

After the forum, a number of people asked for links to ALP media releases and Planning Department policy documents, which flag forthcoming changes – here are a few mentioned in Stephen’s talk! Major reforms first mooted in 2020-2021 were deferred in the lead up to this month’s elections. Now the Andrews government has been returned with a majority in its own right, expect some movement and significant changes to the state planning scheme:

In the next BRN newsletter, we’ll have more detail on changes gazetted to planning laws just before the election, and some notes on a Planning Review by Merri-bek Council in October – the first time that Council has reviewed its planning performance in four years.

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Merri-bek news

Indoor pool closed at Brunswick Baths

Just as we head into summer, the indoor pool at Brunswick Baths will remain closed for some weeks due to structural damage from heavy rains and storms on 17 November. The 50-metre outdoor pool, indoor gym and water play area are all still open.

Merri-bek Chief Executive Officer Cathy Henderson says the indoor pool could be closed for several weeks until repairs can be carried out: “A structural engineer has inspected the premises and will provide us with a report shortly. We are working to engage contractors and it is anticipated that repairs will take several weeks.”

In 2011, the Brunswick Baths began major renovation works. But the $17 million project ran almost a year over schedule, due to soil contamination and the cracking of the 50-metre pool during renovations (See our BRN newsletter from May 2013 for the sorry saga of the closure for almost two years!). We’re sure that Council has learnt some lessons about project management and transparency since those days, and we look forward to updates on the progress of repairs!

The YMCA will be in contact with all members and swimming lesson participants at Brunswick Baths to discuss their options. Meanwhile, you can stay up to date at: https://active.merri-bek.vic.gov.au/

Mayoral elections

At 7pm Tuesday 29 November, Merri-bek Council will hold a special meeting to elect our new mayor for a year-long term in 2022-2023.

The Mayor must be elected by an absolute majority of the eleven Councillors, so look out for some horse-trading between key voting blocs (keep an eye on an unsuccessful state election candidate from Pascoe Vale and a long time Brunswick West resident!).

You can attend the vote at Coburg Town Hall or watch the livestream on the Merri-Bek Livestreaming page:
https://www.merri-bek.vic.gov.au/my-council/council-and-committee-meetings/live-streaming/

We’ll announce the results on the BRN Facebook page.

Community grants

Each year, Merri-bek Council issues grants to community groups, including the Community Strengthening Grant, Facilities Improvement Grant program and the Organisational Establishment Grant.

Applications for these grants open on Tuesday 3 January! So if you have a project, initiative or facility that you think might be eligible for one of these grants, check out the criteria on the Council website and start to prepare your application. Start thinking about your application now, so you can be ready to apply when everyone else is at the beach.

Residents oppose over-sized buildings at VCAT

Local residents have been involved in two challenges to building plans which exceed the Council’s “preferred maximum heights”.

One VCAT hearing has just finished, with a decision promised by next week, on a proposed eight storey building at 251 Lygon Street (the former zipper factory). A separate hearing begins next week, considering a proposal to build a 6-storey building opposite Fleming Park on the corner of Cross and Albert Streets. This building, at 55 Albert Street, would overshadow the park as well as houses in Sedgman Street, and would set a precedent for the rest of Cross Street. It’s half as high again as Cross Street’s preferred maximum of 4 storeys.

In both cases the developers are appealing against Council’s decision to reject their plans, in particular as they go beyond the maximum heights set for these areas, and residents are supporting Council’s decisions.

Bins galore: 4-bin waste service for Merri-bek

Merri-bek households will move to a 4-bin waste service as required by State Government reforms from mid-2023, with the addition of a glass bin to existing garbage and recycling bins. A food and garden organics (FOGO) bin, currently an opt-in service, will be rolled out to all households.

The four bins will separate:

  • garbage (red lid)
  • recycling (yellow lid)
  • food and garden organics (light green lid)
  • glass (purple lid).

General garbage bins will continue to be collected weekly, while recycling bins will move to fortnightly collection and be increased in size. FOGO bins will be collected weekly and glass bins will be collected monthly.

  • For more information, including details of current trials for units and households with limited space, go to Conversations Merri-bek

Everything you wanted to know about nappies

In a back to the future event, Merri-bek Council is running a seminar on reusable nappies! Get rid of throwaways, and discover the world of modern cloth nappies.

In this free 1.5-hour online workshop, you will discover how to wash them, where to buy them and what to look for. This is a comprehensive introduction to cloth nappies for expectant parents and those who already have children in nappies.

WHAT: Reusable Cloth Nappy Workshop – free online event
WHEN: Wednesday, 7 December 2022 from 7.30pm to 9pm
INFO: Michelle Hobson at Merri-bek City Council on 03 9240 1111 or email mhobson@moreland.vic.gov.au
REGISTER: On Eventbrite

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Traffic and transport 

John Street closure

At their December meeting, Merri-bek councillors will consider a resolution to make permanent the closure of John Street, Brunswick East.

John Street runs south off Albert Street next to Fleming Park in Brunswick, and serves as a part of the East Brunswick bike shimmy, connecting with Canning Street through to the CBD. In September 2019,  a trial road closure was installed at the John Street / Albert Street intersection, allowing pedestrian and cyclist access without other vehicle traffic.

A final decision on the trial closure was delayed during the pandemic, but now Merri-bek is planning to make the closure permanent. People walking and riding bicycles will still be able to pass through the street, and local vehicle traffic will still be able to access the road.

  • Conversations Merri-bek – John Street road closure. Formal consultation is complete. But you can still ask Councillors to support this project at their December meeting, contact details at the foot of this email.

NZ wants zero road deaths

It seems our neighbours across the ditch in New Zealand are about to slow down, with proposals to reduce urban speed limits right across the country, as well as on state highways.

The changes are part of Waka Kotahi’s Road to Zero project, which tasked local councils with developing speed management plans to reduce transport-related deaths.

Stressed out cyclists

How much traffic stress can cyclists endure and how does this stress affects route choices? Researchers in Queensland have initiated an interesting study of cyclists in Brisbane and developed an index called Average Traffic Stress (ATS).

The research finds that “younger male cyclists who make longer trips at higher trip speeds experience higher ATS. Recreational trips produce less ATS. Flat topography, a disconnected street network, and a lack of cycling infrastructure are associated with higher ATS. Cyclists intuitively select routes with less car traffic and/or better cycling infrastructure to achieve the lowest level of ATS (rather than selection routes with the shortest distance or the flattest topography).”

Cyclists using Sydney Road and the Upfield shared path may want to think about ATS, as the construction of the new Skyrail through Brunswick is likely to lead to problems!

Pedestrian hazard no 24: male drivers

Hmmm – “Male drivers are almost three times more likely than women to be involved in road collisions that kill or seriously injure pedestrians in Great Britain…in 2020 and the first half of 2021, 4,363 male drivers were involved in collisions that seriously injured or killed pedestrians, compared with 1,473 female drivers.”

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History corner

The naming of Balfe Park

Residents living near Balfe Park in Brunswick may ponder the name. Matthew Balfe was a prominent oil and paint merchant and served as Mayor of Brunswick from 1914 to 1916 during the First World War. His son Joseph ‘Rupert’ Balfe was the first soldier from Brunswick known to have died in the war.

Rupert Balfe was born in Brunswick in 1890, living with his parents at 6 Barkly Street. He attended Princes Hill State School before earning a scholarship to attend Thomas Palmer’s University High School, in Grattan Street, Carlton. After completing his secondary education in 1908, he studied medicine at the University of Melbourne. A good friend of future prime minister Robert Menzies, Balfe was a top footballer and a high school champion in 100, 200 and 440 yards, the long jump, and the high jump.

Balfe was in his final year of medical studies when he enlisted on 14 August 1914 to serve in World War One – to die at Gallipoli as Britain, France, Australia and New Zealand invaded the shores of the Ottoman Empire.

Like many of his generation, Balfe died during the slaughter of the Gallipoli invasion on 25 April 1915, at just 25 years old. For years, his parents Matthew Balfe and Sarah Knott tried to find out information about his gravesite, but the family could not find out details of his death.

“His was the call”, a history of Brunswick troops in WW1, reports that: “Lieutenant Balfe’s final resting place remains elusive, as would many sites of internment on the peninsula. Lt Balfe, the first known Brunswick soldier to die in the First World War and at Gallipoli, may yet lay somewhere near Shrapnel Gully in an unmarked grave or further afield of Pine Ridge.”

Brunswick later became a hot-bed of anti-conscription sentiment in 1916-17, after many young men were amongst more than 60,000 casualties in the war. However, although associated with the Labor Party, Mayor Matthew Balfe was pro-Empire and pro-war. Balfe refused to allow anti-conscriptionists to hire the Brunswick Town Hall for meetings. On one occasion in January 1916 when anti-conscriptionists did manage to obtain a booking of the Hall, Mayor Balfe promptly arranged for a recruitment session to be held in the Hall on that night, thus allowing him to cancel the anti-conscription meeting.

Today the Balfe Park Lane apartment complex overlooks Balfe Park, a popular off-leash dog area in John Street, Brunswick East, home to Brunswick Zebras Football Club, with picnic table, toilets, playground equipment, seats and soccer goals at each end of the field. Sadly, the ceremonial gates that marked the entrance to the park are long gone.

There’s a debate as to whether Blafe Park is named after father or son – anyone with local knowledge can let us know at brunswickresidentsnetwork@gmail.com

The Phoenix mural

Mural: two harpistsEver noticed this mural at the rear of Brunswick Library? To find out more about the mural Phoenix, join this talk on 6 December (the 30th anniversary of its launch). Artist Geoff Hogg will discuss the historical references and images used in the mural and their ties to the cultural background of the community.

Presented in partnership by the Brunswick Community History Group and Merri-bek Libraries.

WHAT: Phoenix – Brunswick library mural
WHEN: Tuesday 6 December 2022, 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
WHERE: Brunswick Library 233 Sydney Road
REGISTER: Free tickets at Eventbrite

From Moreland to Merri-bek

For history nerds and would-be archivists, here’s a link to the official “Order Altering the Name of Moreland City Council” issued on 13 September 2022, where “the Governor in Council, under section 235(g) of the Local Government Act 2020 and with reference to section 237(2)(f) alters the name of the Moreland City Council to Merri-bek City Council.”

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Culture corner

People’s choice

The Counihan Gallery at Brunswick Town Hall has their annual Summer Show exhibition, always worth a visit.

Voting is open for the Merri-bek Summer Show People’s Choice Award at the Gallery!

Vote for your favourite artist and they may win $1000, generously sponsored by the Sydney Road Brunswick Association.

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Merri-bek Council stuff

We are now officially in the municipality of Merrri-bek. Email addresses will be changed over to Merribek.vic.gov.au

Regular Council meetings – held on the 2nd Wednesday of each month –  are normally held at: Council Chamber, Merri-bek Civic Centre, 90 Bell Street, Coburg.

Future dates are:

  • 29 November – Mayoral Election (7 pm Tuesday)
  • 7 December.

Meeting details are available on the Council website.

Council meetings can be watched online, either live, or later – you can find details here along with the agenda for the next Council meeting when it’s posted on the Friday before the monthly meeting. You can register there to receive an alert when the agenda is posted.

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Email us!

Please note our email address:  brunswickresidentsnetwork@gmail.com. And write to tell us what you think of the newsletter. We love feedback. 

If you are able to offer some time to volunteer to help organise our campaigns, and support our work, please get in contact. Our work includes organising meetings, leafleting and letter boxing, graphic design and publicity, and research; on planning, greening Brunswick and traffic management.

[Wondering why this email comes to you from nfip@optusnet.com.au? Our Mailchimp email service doesn’t like a gmail sender’s address, so we use a member’s address. Add this address your contacts so our emails don’t get filed as spam, but don’t write to it)

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Contacts for our local councillors

Mark Riley (Mayor)
Mobile: 0499 807044
Email: mriley@moreland.vic.gov.au

Lambros Tapinos
Mobile: 0433 419 075
Email: ltapinos@moreland.vic.gov.au

James Conlan
Mobile: 0409 279 335
Email: JConlan@moreland.vic.gov.au

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MAILING LIST AND FURTHER INFORMATION

Welcome to new readers! To contact organisers of the Brunswick Residents’ Network, or to offer help with future activities, please email brunswickresidentsnetwork@gmail.com. (This gmail is our preferred address, rather than replying to this email). Thanks to those who have contributed to this edition.

Please forward this e-letter to neighbours who’d like a say in the way their community is changing. It’s easy to sign on, or edit your details to include your interests – just go to http://eepurl.com/VX4a9.

For meeting details, survey and newsletter archives, go to: https://brunswickresidents.wordpress.com

Check out our Facebook page for a range of lively discussions: Brunswick Residents Network. Help us reach more people by liking our page, commenting, forwarding this newsletter, and tweeting it using the links below.

Election commentary authorised by N. Maclellan, c/- 135 Albert Street, Brunswick, Victoria 3056.

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