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Yarra’s Edge is united in opposition

28 Mar 2018

Yarra’s Edge is united in opposition Image

The Yarra’s Edge community united in opposition to the state government’s proposed tram bridge last month.

About 300 residents came together at Point Park on March 13 to be informed about the latest efforts to save the marina and propose an alternative plan.

Convenor Keith Sutherland told the crowd that the government was listening but cautioned that an election-year-window of opportunity would close in November.

“We need to keep the rage going. This is our window of opportunity between now and November,” Mr Sutherland said.

Mr Sutherland outlined the numerous contacts he had made with politicians of all parties and the submission he had made to the planning panel hearing the government’s case for Fishermans Bend.

Transport for Victoria proposes a six-metre high tram, cycling and pedestrian bridge to connect Fishermans Bend with Collins St, Docklands.

But, Mr Sutherland outlined an alternative “immersed tube” proposal at the Bolte Bridge which would connect trams to Docklands Drive and the LaTrobe St tram corridor.

Not only that, he said, the same tracks could be used to move freight between Webb Dock and the Port of Melbourne’s northern facilities. Cyclists could also be accommodated in the tunnel, he said.

“I know it would be a far cheaper option to have the immersed tube. Why wouldn’t the government of the day be looking for a compromise and a less expensive option?” Mr Sutherland asked.

“The alternate proposal would eliminate the need for three very expensive bridges,” he said. “And it defies logic to use the at-capacity Collins St tram routes.”

“Many of us bought into this area because we love the ambience of the area and we love the boats. We are a powerful voice if we stick together.”

“Celebrity resident” and marina tenant Sam Newman labeled the proposal “aesthetic vandalism”.

He disputed that the marina was used by the “elite”, saying that many people had chosen a boat in the marina as an alternative to a holiday home on the Mornington or Bellarine peninsulas.

“It’s an idyllic lifestyle – not for the rich and famous – but for people who want to live on a waterway,” Mr Newman said.

“Suddenly, with the stroke of a pen, a town planner – a public servant ­­– can make an arbitrary decision that this can be taken away from you.”

“I don’t mind that people will say that we’ve all got a lot of money and we just like whingeing. But it’s not that at all.”

Mr Newman said he would “probably” enter the race to become Melbourne’s next lord mayor, but expected to be unsuccessful.

“I won’t get in, but that doesn’t matter. I’m told that if you stand, you have to have coalitions with other people who are standing so that, if you don’t get in, you award your preferences to others who are likeminded and might adopt some your policies,” he said. “This would be one of the planks in my platform.”

Mr Newman said: “A bridge across the river, for all intents and purposes, makes this marina redundant. It would be criminal if that was to happen.”

Liberal Albert Park electoral aspirant Andrew Bond attended the rally and later told Docklands News he needed to see fine detail and costings of Mr Sutherland’s alternative proposal before he could support it.

In October, Docklands News published an interview with Cr Bond, in which he said he was confident that the proposed tram bridge through Yarra’s Edge would not be a divisive election topic for local residents.

Cr Bond noted that the community seemed to be divided about what would constitute a solution.

“We heard Sam Newman say that an opening bridge would be okay and others say that this would not be acceptable,” he said.

He said he was due to meet the Yarra’s Edge Class Action Committee in a couple of weeks with Liberal planning and transport spokesperson David Davis.

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