Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Whitehorse Council ‘dismayed’ by Avenue of Honour tree decision

Whitehorse Council says it was disappointed to learn that three of the city’s nine Avenue of Honour trees are set to be removed in what they say is a heavy-handed decision by the State Government.

Council says it shares residents’ concerns that the trees in Churchill Street, Mont Albert, have significant local historic value and more should be done to protect them. 

Whitehorse Mayor, Tina Liu said Council was dismayed that the state’s Level Crossing Removal Project (LXRP) had this week distributed a letter advising the trees would be removed within a few days. 

“Council was not given advance warning of the letter. We have lobbied LXRP repeatedly on this matter over many weeks and again in the past 24 hours,” Mayor Liu said.

This WW1 commemorative avenue of nine trees were planted by local citizens of Mont Albert exactly 50 years after the ANZAC landings at Gallipoli, to recognise four brothers from one local family and five of their friends who enlisted together to serve in the Great War.

The original inscription on a plate attached to the central tree in the avenue reads:

IN MEMORY OF THE FOUR BROTHERS FROM MONT ALBERT
WILLIAM, FAWCETT, ROWLAND AND GORDON HEAD
ALL ENLISTED IN THE GREAT WAR
WILLIAM (WILL) DIED APRIL 25TH 1915 AT GALLIPOLI
LEST WE FORGET

The plaque was restored this year, with a public unveiling held on Remembrance Day this year.

“We have explored various options to protect the trees. The legislation enabling State Government major transport infrastructure projects provides broad powers to the Secretary of the Department of Transport managing the project through the LXRP to make these decisions, and leaves residents and Council with little voice and few options.”

There are more design issues and community concerns Council continues to pursue on the Level Crossing Removals at Mont Albert and Surrey Hills, she said.

“We will continue to stand with and for our community advocating for these issues, but we are concerned that LXRP is not paying much regard to community or Council’s voice.”

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