Trail upgrades disappoint residents

Tara Murray

Residents have been left underwhelmed by upgrades to the Upper Stony Creek Trail in Sunshine North.

While construction is still taking place, the trail was opened last year ahead of the Christmas break.

Resident Jamie Ramsay is among those who have been left disappointed by the upgrades.

“It’s not usable in its current form on hot days,” he said.

“There is no shade, no taps and no toilets. If you’ve got kids you can’t spend a lot of time down there.”

Mr Ramsay, who raised the issue during question time at last week’s council meeting, said residents felt like they had been failed by the project.

He said project funding does not allow for planting in the northern channel or the extension of the path from behind Camperdown Avenue to Furlong Road.

“It’s not what we were promised,” he said.

“Everyone seems to be pointing the finger at someone else to complete the project.

“Brimbank is one of the least green areas in Victoria. It’s important for the community to have greenery.”

Among the works completed are a new wetland with a gravel circuit path, the planting of 9000 plants around the wetland, a circuit path connecting to Gilmour Road, Cary Street and Camperdown Avenue, and a gravel path along the western side of the concrete channel from Gilmour Road to Furlong Road.

The project, which is a collaboration between seven groups, has been plagued with delays and issues since it was announced in 2016.

In July 2018, significant deposits of asbestos were found at the site, resulting in remediation works.

Works were suspended in July 2019. It was then announced that the project wouldn’t be completed as planned amid funding concerns.

Mayor Ranka Rasic said last week that the project has provided residents with a well-designed, usable green open space and natural environment.

“The project has created a vibrant space, with walking paths and wetlands that the community can enjoy for decades,” she said.

“The Upper Stony Creek Project continues to remain an advocacy priority for council. Council will continue to identify opportunities for further funding. We’ll also continue advocating and raising the need for the project to be completed to the original intended scope with relevant parliamentarians, officials and entities as opportunities arise.”

Melbourne Water’s water services planning manager Lauren Mittiga said they were pleased with the project’s progress.

“Construction is still taking place, including on the new stormwater harvesting system, as well as minor maintenance work.

“However the wetlands are now finished, giving Sunshine North a new community open space and walkway to enjoy. The walkway was opened for public use before Christmas.

“We will continue to explore funding opportunities for planting in the northern channel and for additional walking paths, as was the original intent of the project.”