Council ‘failed to consult’ on community garden

A community action group has accused Brisbane City Council of not following correct procedures before approving a community garden in Wynnum.

Bridge Street Action Group spokeswoman Simone Bleaney said yesterday the council had failed to consult properly with local residents before it approved the garden at Kitchener Park, adjacent to Bridge St.

“As residents, we would have assumed the consultation process would have been more open. What we have experienced is not an open process,” she said.

Mrs Bleaney, who spoke to yesterday’s Council meeting, said the Bridge Street Action Group had hand-delivered a petition with 345 signatures from local residents opposed to the garden’s location. The group had given the petition to to council officers by the consultation deadline of March 31.

But she said the council committee clerk did not receive the petition until June 22, almost three months after they had submitted it and one month after the council had approved the garden.

She said even before the consultation process began, a permit was already issued to the Wynnum Manly Community Gardens Group.

“The consultation process did not commence until after the decision had been made,” she said.

In addition to the problems with community consultation, Mrs Bleaney raised concerns about the adequacy of Kitchener Park for a community garden.

She said issues like flooding, soil acidity and vandalism which had ruled out other sites were also problems affecting Kitchener Park.

“We agree with the concept of community gardens per se, but not at the proposed Bridge Street site,” she said.

“Every resident in Bridge Street signed the petition.”

Environment, Parks and Sustainability Committee chairman councillor Peter Matic said more than 22 sites were assessed in the area over the course of six months before Kitchener Park was found to be the most suitable location.

He said 589 residents had signed a petition in support of the Kitchener Park location after the Wynnum Manly Community Gardens Group held an open public consultation on February 20 this year.

“The community garden in question here has gone through a very extensive process and has very strongly been supported by the local councillor and by a significant number of local residents,” he said.

Cr Matic said he did not know what had happened to the Bridge Street Action Group’s petition, but when the petition was eventually lodged on June 22 the decision to locate the garden in Kitchener Park had already been well and truly made.

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