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Montague Community Alliance

06 Feb 2019

Montague Community Alliance Image

Let’s try and find a way to all work together

Happy new year, folks. As 2019 dawns and the business of life takes over, I would like to reflect on the changes to our neighbourhood and imagine what may be on the way.

Montague has certainly changed dramatically since February 2018; we now have a Fishermans Bend Plan, with the precinct plans to be finalised soon. We have a new park ( Kirrip Park), a new school (South Melbourne Primary) and many, many, many new businesses and residents.

There seems to be a lot of new religious organisations springing up all over Montague, we are not sure if it’s a Melbourne-wide phenomena but very interesting to see that happen here. Of course, as one would expect in an urban renewal area, we have architects, town planners and building companies moving in, with long-term panel beaters and small car servicing businesses moving on. We all expect 2019 will bring even more growth to Montague …

To this end … I recently heard a very interesting program on Radio National about how a dysfunctional neighbourhood or challenges in a close-living community can have a negative effect on some people’s mental health.

The speaker commented that it appeared that government and council planners and commercial developers may not be considering those aspects of the community’s mental health and wellbeing when making their decisions about urban planning. This got me thinking, so I asked a few people what they thought.

The overwhelming response was people do not feel in control of their environment. This data was mainly from those who have been living and working in Montague and surrounds before the Capital City Zoning in 2012.

The second response concerned a lack of community spirit. I did ask a few newbies (past two or three years) and they weren’t even interested in the question. This led me to wonder, how long does one need to live or work in a community to feel part of it? And with feeling part of the community, share a common interest in developing liveability and amenity with one’s neighbours?

Most of the residents, old and new and including those living in the new Nightfall and Gravity Apartment blocks do feel somewhat connected to each other. They have a shared understanding that we need to be mindful of each other, respectful and courteous in our interactions. The biggest challenges seem to come from the new businesses who appear not to realise that this is a mixed-use area with many residents who have the same rights as they do in their homes, to enjoy peace and quiet in evenings, early mornings and weekends.

A couple of examples:

There are several new businesses adjacent to homes, where cleaning and servicing happens outside of business hours, e.g. early (before 9am) on weekend mornings, or during the day on weekends – including public holidays. These activities are difficult for residents as they are often loud, disturbing their quiet enjoyment of their homes. Residents have reported that on approaching these businesses they were met with aggression and that the business owners are not amenable to negotiation.

And there are difficult residents – that is clear, but it is usually because the change that is occurring here in Montague has been “done” to them rather than negotiated with them.

So, having said all that, let’s try and find a way to all work together, to ensure the residents old and new, the families moving in and the elderly who’ve been here a long time have peace and quiet during non business hours. AND the residents must allow all the businesses to work without hindrance during business hours.

It is incumbent on us (those already living and working here) to welcome new neighbours, but it is also incumbent on those joining our village to be aware that this is a 24/7 residential environment. Could we not have a little more kindness, thoughtfulness and above all neighbourly intelligence? We all need to take care of our mental health!

The Montague Community Alliance would love to hear from you, with ideas for this column or for public forums. We will keep an eye on those seeking to be elected in the upcoming federal election and their views on Montague and the greater Fishermans Bend.

We await the Montague Precinct plans with some anticipation and look forward to further conversations throughout the year. And of course, there are many more Montaguans to meet!

P.S. But, of course as a leveller, there’s always the Montague Street Bridge!

Trisha Avery

Convener

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