During last week’s ordinary meeting of Moira Shire, Cr Wendy Buck gave the first indication that council may change its backing of the green route for the Yarrawonga Mulwala Bridge if the upcoming plebiscite indicates the community wants grey.
Councillors were discussing agenda item 12.2, the Yarrawonga Mulwala Bridge Petition, which had been tabled the previous month.
The tabled petition was signed by 35 people and stated;
“The old bridge across the lake is to be demolished. This is a certainty (courtesy of information supplied by VicRoads). The designated route is the grey route, alongside the old bridge. This is a Victorian State Government decision.
“We are concerned that Moira Shire’s continued support for the green route will take business away from our shopping strip.
“The green route will;
Greatly disadvantage cars trying to enter the shopping precinct
Enable cars to bypass the town entirely
Absolutely devastate pedestrian access to Belmore Street shops and cafes once the old bridge is gone.
“We, the undersigned business owners, ask that Moira Shire take notice of this petition and change its stance to support the Grey route and in doing so, support business in this town.”
Cr Peter Mansfield moved the recommendation to thank the petitioners for their work, note the concerns raised and encourage the petition signatories to participate in the planned plebiscite; Cr Buck seconded the recommendation.
Cr Mansfield spoke to the motion saying council had decided to hold a plebiscite to gauge the views of Yarrawonga residents on their preferred route.
“We are having a plebiscite and I encourage the petitioners to be involved as well as all residents so council can get a full opinion,” he said.
Cr Buck then spoke and thanked the petitioners.
“It is a hot topic on a high profile and expensive project,” Cr Buck said.
“We need an evidence-based survey to show which direction is needed.
“Whatever decision comes out we can support that decision and get ourselves a bridge.”
In a report presented to council and approved by CEO Mark Henderson it stated council believed “the many concerns and competing views expressed by the community will best be addressed by ensuring the plebiscite delivers a comprehensive, rigorous and defendable independent process to understand the community’s preference”.
“Council is also aware of competing views regarding the implications of the alignments for the future growth and development of the town, the ongoing prosperity of local business and the liveability enjoyed by visitors and residents,” the report said.
“A community awareness campaign will precede the plebiscite to support consistent understanding of the plebiscite and the questions put before the community.
“The outcome is not binding on council or any other agency but will inform consideration of council’s future position and will be shared with relevant agencies, neighbouring councils and the community.”
Cr Buck spoke to the Yarrawonga Chronicle after the meeting and reiterated her belief Moira Shire would support whatever route was indicated by the plebiscite.
“If it is grey, we will support grey,” she said.
“We need to know what the people, all of them, all the mums and dads, think and not just the interest groups.
“There is a state government election next year and if we can in any way lobby for funding and get this going, it is really important we do this now.
“Moira Shire needs to do everything it can to keep pushing for a bridge.
“This is why we, the councillors, were elected, to support the residents’ wishes.”