Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan): My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Transport Infrastructure, and the action I seek is for the minister to meet with the Inner North Community Foundation to discuss the open space activation fund.
President, when times are tough, communities in the north come together.
The Inner North Community Foundation is an independent charity and grant maker for Melbourne’s north, covering the communities of Yarra, Darebin and Moreland, and I have mentioned them numerous times in this place.
Their fantastic work in funnelling large sums of philanthropic money into meaningful community projects is inspirational during normal times. However, during COVID, it has been simply astounding.
INCF raised $460 000 in two months, giving 50 rapid response grants and $260 000 worth of small grants to local charities and community groups, bolstering the community’s response to the COVID crisis.
Executive officer Ben Rodgers is passionate about everything that makes these communities thrive and has been trying for a number of months to pitch the idea of a Bell to Moreland open space activation fund to the Level Crossing Removal Authority, so far without success.
As we have seen from other level crossing removal projects, the raising of the Upfield line will connect our communities, creating a new space that parks, walking and cycling paths, playgrounds and other shared spaces will fill.
INCF wants to spend money where it will have impact, and I can think of no greater impact than to have local charities and community groups playing an active role in transforming this corridor and filling it with meaningful and community-minded spaces that they know will be used and loved.
If the community get buy-in, they are more likely to feel a sense of ownership and contribute towards the maintenance of these areas, potentially reducing some of the financial burden on councils and government organisations like VicTrack.
After reaching out to the Level Crossing Removal Authority repeatedly since late last year, their lack of response may have given Mr Rodgers some sympathy for Icy Pole salesmen in Antarctica. For some reason, he can’t seem to get a simple yes or no out of anyone.
I implore the minister to seriously consider the benefits of such a fund in not just the creation of some of these spaces but in the long-term use and maintenance of them.
The action I seek is for the minister to meet with the Inner North Community Foundation to discuss the possibilities of an open space activation fund for the Bell to Moreland rail corridor and to seriously consider the proposal.
Fiona Patten MP
Leader of Reason
Member for Northern Metropolitan Region
Ms ALLAN (Bendigo East—Leader of the House, Minister for Transport Infrastructure, Minister for the Suburban Rail Loop, Minister for the Coordination of Transport: COVID-19):
I thank the Member for Northern Metropolitan Region for her question and continued interest in the Andrews Labor Government’s transport infrastructure agenda across Melbourne’s north as well as our level crossing removal program.
This $542.4 million project is getting rid of four dangerous and congested level crossings at Bell Street, Munro Street and Reynard Street in Coburg, and Moreland Road in Brunswick.
The Government made an election commitment to remove these level crossings with an elevated rail solution and work is currently underway as part of the current construction blitz.
On top of reducing congestion and improving safety, the designs will create a green, open area almost twice the size of the MCG for locals to come together, exercise and enjoy.
The project will deliver a bigger and better Moreland Station precinct and will feature barbecue facilities, a nature playground, extensive planting and landscaped gardens.
A dog park, playgrounds, and public art spaces are among some of the ideas that were considered for the 2.5 kilometres of new open space. Three times as many trees will also be planted as part of the project.
The Level Crossing Removal Project (LXRP) has consulted with locals and will continue to do so regarding what the open space will look like when the project is completed in 2021. I am also advised that LXRP representatives have met with the local organisation mentioned in your question.