Council hears “loud and clear” from Docklands residents at its inaugural community Future Melbourne meeting

Brendan Rees

Docklands residents have wasted no time putting the hard-hitting questions to the City of Melbourne during its first-ever council meeting in the community.

Community members gathered at The Hub at Docklands on May 17 when the council threw open the doors of its Future Melbourne Committee (FMC) meeting to the public.

The council has been moving its Town Hall meetings to the suburbs to keep residents informed about what is happening in their area and to raise questions. There was a total of 13 public questions, seven of which were written and read out in front of a public gallery estimated to be of about 50 people.

Topics ranged from dog-friendly parks to community safety as well as wayfinding opportunities to help people find their way around the precinct, and electric vehicle charging facilities.

There were also questions around short-stay register concerns, the vision for Docklands, and the latest on the proposed tram bridge from the city to Fishermans Bend.

While the news of the draft budget 2022-23 was the biggest item on the agenda, a total of 40 minutes was dedicated to public question time, with Lord Mayor Sally Capp saying, “we really appreciate very thoughtful questions, very relevant, and thank you very much for raising them with us this evening.”

Discussion about new dog-friendly spaces drew great interest, with the council saying two stages of community consultation had been undertaken and a proposal for new dog off leash areas, including in Docklands, would be presented to the council in June, “with implementation of approved areas” to follow within about three months.

The meeting also heard councillors had been receiving “many ideas” about ways to enhance Docklands and make it a destination, since Central Pier has been closed, which would be discussed at a Docklands Summit planned for late July/early August.

The council said designs and construction dates for a proposed tram bridge across the Yarra River from Collins St were still to be confirmed by the state government.

Key neighbourhood issues and City of Melbourne projects for Docklands were also discussed at the meeting as was the Docklands Firelight Festival to be held from July 1 to 3.

 

“The City of Melbourne is actively engaged in this work and investing in Docklands,” a council statement said. “Council is particularly focused on getting the state government committed to long-term solutions.”

 

And in an idea to get pooch lovers excited, a resident pitched a proposal to councillors to have a dog-friendly tram service stop at dog-friendly places around the CBD, which the council will consider.

A Docklands Representative Group spokesperson said it was “fantastic to see a large turnout” by Docklands residents at the meeting.

“The City of Melbourne heard loud and clear from multiple residents about the issues of safety and security, open space, and the need for residents to be a key part of the planning of events held in Docklands and the planning of public projects in Docklands,” the spokesperson said.

“The DRG believe Victoria Police PSOs should be involved in ensuring the safety of key public spaces including the promenades around Victoria Harbour.”

Docklands Chamber of Commerce executive officer Shane Wylie said he was “immensely pleased” the City of Melbourne had hosted its meeting in Docklands, adding it had “brought to light many differing opinions and agendas”.

“We’re very aware that the Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor have made Docklands a personal focus,” he said. “We also thank Cr Jamal Hakim, a Docklands resident, for his tireless efforts in highlighting just how much we’ve hurt.”

Mr Wylie added the open public meeting “stands as a brilliant lead” into the upcoming Docklands future forum with “a consensus that Docklands needs aligned thinking and a firm direction.”

Mr Wylie added there were three key items the Chamber hoped to see addressed including “immediate action” on Central Pier, clarity around the future direction for Docklands, and Victoria Harbour becoming a “focal point for Melbourne and Australia”.

Cr Hakim said the meeting attracted the highest level of participation from the community yet, which “shows the strength of the Docklands community”.

“Thanks to everyone who attended, to the Chamber, and all residents who came down to share with the council what matters most in our neighbourhood,” he said.

“I look forward to even more as part of the Docklands summit and council’s commitment to delivering for the future for Docklands.”

While the meeting heard the council’s CEO Justin Hanney say the Docklands Summit was planned for “late-July/early-August”, Development Victoria’s group head precincts Geoff Ward told Docklands News, “We have not been approached in any official capacity regarding a summit.”

“We work closely with the City of Melbourne on a range of matters related to Docklands to ensure this iconic part of Melbourne continues to thrive.” •

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