Trees, Storms and the Clean Up
The summer storms reminded us of the need to find the right balance between tree preservation, protection of life and property and our inalienable right to peaceful enjoyment of our own land. It was notable that the large majority of broken and fallen trees were eucalypts and, as much as most of us appreciate the beauty and utility of large trees, it is quite apparent that many eucalyptus species are out of place in an urban area.
Many backyard trees were planted with good intentions decades ago but have grown to an age and size where they present a real danger to home owners. Storms aside, the propensity of some trees to spontaneously shed limbs is particularly alarming.
The storms also reminded us of how fortunate we are to have the services of the predominantly volunteer forces of the SES and other emergency services. Their members confront danger and appalling weather in responding to sometimes frantic calls from residents.
In the weeks following the storms, Council was often berated by some for not cleaning up their properties and the unwillingness of many to help themselves became apparent. Council does not have an obligation to clear storm damage on private property and looks to residents to resort to their insurers and other resources to remove debris. Many chose to pile their backyard debris on nature strips in the expectation that Council would dispose of it. Combined with making community land and parks safe and presentable, the clearing of roadside debris cost in excess of half a million dollars, money much better spent on other community resources.
The nature strip, whilst a community resource cared for ultimately by Council, is also part of the facade of most residential property and most owners take the time to ensure that it is neat and tidy. It is disappointing that we often have to remind people to make a small effort in at least mowing it. Those very few that are happy to see long grass and weeds in front of their homes may have something in common with the inconsiderate few who continue to throw litter around our otherwise beautiful Shire.
Finishing on a lighter note, I was fortunate to attend an open day at the new Hills Showground Metro station. With my colleagues on Council, I have been privileged to witness this astonishing 21st century project as it has evolved and now, with its opening imminent, it is time to say WOW! Our residents will be as agape as I was when the magnificence of this infrastructure and its impact on the lives of Hills’ residents becomes apparent.