The purpose of the Community Forum was to provide community members the opportunity to meet and ask questions of the City of Greater Geelong Mayor and the three Councillors for the Bellarine Ward.

Words in (brackets italic) in the notes are comments by OGCA to provide additional information, context or reference to other documents.

These notes are intended to provide a summary and a method for follow up where appropriate.  The notes are not a verbatim record.

1 Phil Edwards Phil Edwards welcomed the four speakers and the community members.

2 Cr. Bruce Harwood. How do we manage our population growth, and how do we slow it? We can’t, so we have to accept that people living longer, attracted to this area, get out of the city etc. Spread load to west and north of COGG. The Bellarine has already done some of the heavy lifting so we need to take pressure off Barwon Heads and Ocean Grove. (refer to the Draft COGG Settlement Strategy May 2018 page 6 – available on COGG website) We all have to concede there is not an easy answer. We have learned lots from Armstrong Creek. Bruce referred to the COGG Draft Council Plan 2018-2022 which is available on COGG website (see also the draft COGG Settlement Strategy May 2018 page 6) and explains how the Council “will manage growth to make sure our towns maintain their unique character”.

3 Question from Sandy. asked OGCA to continue please. If we need more interest or membership, she suggested we go to schools to meet local mums, get on their mailing list etc. She then talked about the Planning Department, who she feels don’t take much notice of the surveys and forums undertaken. They need to give more thought to some of the impacts of their decisions on coastal towns.

4 Cr. Jim Mason. There is pressure on the limit of anything! Planning is very complex. You can look at a thing like car parking at the moment, then later other factors enter into this e.g. global warming, climate change which then influence the outcome of previous decisions. Expressed thanks to OGCA for arranging this meeting tonight. Councillors have had a hectic first 6 months with many things to attend to – council and planning meetings, decision making to name a few. Sometimes development lags behind the growth. We have assigned to portfolios (see COGGC Website – Minutes of Special Meeting of Council – 13 March 2018 for the full list of portfolios) for 2 years, then those will be changed. Rural and peri-urban committees. Council needs to set up a Masterplan for shared pathways, for the whole of COGG. Regarding the duplication of Grubb Road, it seems hard for VicRoads to make a decision about this. Council has given $250,000 for shared trails, and $300,000 for Kingston Park playground (in the draft Budget 2018-19). Recent Mountain to Mouth was a success. The Potato Shed is a focus of the Bellarine, used for many diverse things.
(Cr Harwood mentioned the shortage of Planners and the difficulty COGGC was experiencing in recruiting qualified planners)

5 Cr. Trent Sullivan. Whirlwind 6 months, Bellarine councillors working together. OGCA provides one good way to provide connectivity. Councillors have lots of learning to do. Structure Plan in 2016 (perhaps referring to the 2016 Urban Design Framework – UDF) preserve the Terrace as a long term arterial road. Networks, share trail network were important issues. Referred to the car parking in Barwon Heads was discussed only yesterday (22 May) with Council staff.

6 Stephanie Asher.  Their first 6 months has been very busy, and as a team they are working together, and they focus on what they can do. This has been difficult, especially without a CEO for COGG, but a new one is starting in a couple of weeks. 27 items concerning the Bellarine, were asked in the Budget. They are looking long term and trying to be cohesive, and connecting Council officers with the community. A Council liaison team is led by Jake Brown (present at the Forum). Councillors don’t get to speak directly with Council officers, and have to submit queries and statements through the council’s e-PORTAL, which makes things a bit slow. Growth is now a dirty word on the Bellarine – districts are more appropriate – and this is reflected in the draft Council documents.

7 Cr. Harwood. Community associations are an important part of communities and he hopes OGCA keeps going. There is a sense of community and liveability in Ocean Grove. Settlement strategy for COGG. 110,000 people predicted to be living in the northern growth areas of COGG by 2040. We want to maintain the rural character of the Bellarine.

8 Cr. Asher. Squaring off the bend at the intersection of The Parade and Hodgson St is continuing with negotiations with landholders. There are design controls for new buildings and an amendment for trees on building blocks.

9 Questions and comments from Prue. Is the work involved in the dangerous intersection at Presidents Avenue and Orton Street going ahead? Prue thought turning The Terrace into a mall would be a good idea combined with making the current Council carpark space a two up two down parking facility. We need to utilise the buses more, and PTV needs to be more aware of the community desiring changes to bus stops, timetables etc. Maybe smaller buses could be used on some routes, as there are often only 5 or 6 passengers in the large buses.

10 Cr. Harwood. He knows this (intersection Presidents Ave and Orton St) is a priority for residents, particularly after the recent major accident there, but VicRoads has a state-wide ranking for their works. Council will continue negotiating with VicRoads about this very important matter. Turning The Terrace into a Mall is a good idea, but this has to be in balance with connectivity.

11 Questions and comments from Alison. She has seen many accidents and near misses at the intersection of Grubb Road and Adco Grove There are also many potholes there on the road verge where cars go left around north facing vehicles turning into Adco Grove. 8.45 am and 4.45 pm are the worst times. What is COGG doing about this? (COGG have since responded that the Grubb Road is a VicRoads road and that VicRoads have no immediate plans for that part of Grubb Road.  OGCA has now raised this with Lisa Neville MP on 1 June)

12 Questions and comments Tizzy. After an incident in this area, or further along Grubb Road, police stop traffic at the roundabout near the Mex, and she wonders why they do this? Tizzy also raised the matter of a manned pedestrian crossing on Thacker Street near the Yellow Gums estate is needed for kids catching the school bus.

13 Cr. Harwood.  Suggested Tizzy write a letter to the Police Officer in charge of traffic in the COGG re accident traffic management on Grubb Road. (Phil Edwards commented that Thacker Street is a Council road and therefore council could act on the issue of a pedestrian crossing on Thacker).

14 Question from? Could we have a disabled parking space on John Dory Drive (closer to Marlin Drive) near Star of the Sea primary school please? Had contacted COGGC staff and felt a lack of responsiveness in responding.

15 Comments from Lloyd. Pleased to hear that Council is forming a Master Plan about cycling in the COGG. I hope cyclists will be consulted. Maintenance of roads, vegetation has grown onto roads. Connector Road and Banks Road to rail trail for cyclists. Over summer there is often broken glass in this area. Barwon Coast, COGG and Vic Roads share the responsibility for these matters. (since the Forum COGG have advised action on vegetation growing onto selected roads)

16 Question from Meredith. I flew to Hobart recently and flew over the Bellarine. I noticed a lack of vegetation and ask what ways can we make the Bellarine more beautiful? For example, tree cover in urban areas.

17 Cr. Mason Re-greening the Bellarine? What trees do you think are needed? Greening the Bellarine is underway now.

18 Question from Pam. Could COGG make a greater effort to have meaningful fines on the developers as a deterrent eg for removing designated trees. Suggested some developers built the cost of the fine into their planning. Can Council get a bit more teeth about Wallington Road entrance to Ocean Grove – creek, and old cars, old buses, potential waterway pollution etc? Also, can there be another access ramp onto the beach please (Dog Beach)?

19 Cr. Asher. We are aware of the need for good access for prams, walking frames and wheel chairs across the COGG. Ramp (Dog Beach) will most likely be a Barwon Coast responsibility.

20 Cr Mason. Take on notice Wallington Road entrance issue.

21 Question from Alison. Footpath network (Ocean Grove Principal Pedestrian Network – Ocean Grove PPN) – when will this begin?

22 Cr. Sullivan. Special rates and charges scheme conducting this. Some people want footpaths and some do not want them. (OGCA advised the Mayor, Councillors and those at the meeting of the recent Council response to a question from OGCA in March 2018 – Council response: “We are currently working on design checks, cost estimates and cost apportionment for the Ocean Grove PPN which will enable the next stage of community consultation to be undertaken. Due to recent staff changes we do not expect to be in a position to undertake the next round of consultation until later in 2018.”)

23 Comment from Margo. I find it very concerning that things stop due to no staff available. This is not how a business should run.

24 Cr. Mason. Residents have not had Councillors for a few years, so there is lots of catching up to do.

25 Margo replied There are still bureaucrats working for Council – business should be able to continue to operate.

26 Question from Alison. Are there new planners being employed and retention of planners?

27 Cr. Harwood. The Planning department is under considerable stress. There are often objectors. Planning is finite – there are winners and losers. (see note 4)

28 Question from Ross. When planning and development is signed off, there are some conditions on the Estate (Yellow Gums), and now I know that some residents are doing things not on the Planning permit, which is causing concern amongst residents, with those conditions being ignored. Tizzy then said there had previously been a residents’ committee set up, and now residents are confused.

29 Cr. Asher. Asked Ross to put his complaint in writing to her to follow it through outside the Forum.

30 Comment from Tom. Planners are looking after planning well, but they need to involve the community more.

31 Phil Edwards. Phil Edwards closed the Forum, thanking all who had attended and thanked the Mayor and Councillors for their time and effort and that the Community is generally keen to work together with the Council and Council staff wherever possible.