Commit someone to Montague … now!

Trisha Avery

I think we can safely say that we, the community, are not getting a lot of communication or information or other relevant action that makes us feel heard in the Montague Precinct.

That is not from either the City of Port Philip, or the Fishermans Bend Taskforce.

So, I decided to go and find out what the City of Melbourne is doing to support its community in the Lorimer Precinct, and how it differed from the City of Port Philip’s services to the Montague community.

I was grateful to Sophie Handley, director city strategy and Daniel Boden, precinct delivery for their valuable time to discuss how the City of Melbourne supports communities during significant building work.

To say I was impressed was an understatement. First, having a dedicated person responsible for precinct delivery who has an intimate knowledge of what is happening in the precinct is fantastic.

To not only have a deep understanding of the development areas, the developers’ and builders’ needs, but also, of the residents (albeit very few) and the substantial workers and businesses current in situ and for those moving into the Lorimer Precinct.

In addition, there is a dedicated “Site Services Department” within the City of Melbourne which responds with alacrity and focus to the needs of those being affected by building, noise, dust, trucks, parking issues and other things related to development.

Now, I understand that the City of Melbourne covers the CBD, and other parts of the municipality that have a history of serious development with very specific needs for locals, but surely so does the City of Port Philip.

Where are these services for the Montague Precinct? Where were they during the two years of lockdowns when Montague building and development did not stop? When noise, dust and trucks where affecting all those working from home? There was no “Site Services Department” that helped. There was/is no Montague Precinct manager.

There were a couple of people with line-of- sight to Fishermans Bend, but it was not easy to get their attention and when we did, we were not treated with the same seriousness that the City of Melbourne has built for its residents, businesses and workers.

As this may be one of my last columns, I wanted to be clear that although we have made many gains in our advocacy and lobbying for the Montague Precinct, one of the areas of great disappointment is that there is no dedicated service or person that is accessible to the Montague community.

This has to change, there are now many, many additional residents moving into the precinct and the businesses being attracted to the area continue to grow.

The City of Port Philip must take a leaf out of the City of Melbourne’s community engagement strategy and do better. Have a service, or an officer, dedicated to Montague only.

Commit to actually asking the locals what they want, not some “experts” or people who have never lived or worked in Montague. Talk to us, don’t ask us to go online for some well-written public relations spin. ASK US WHAT WE NEED!

Southbank News publisher Sean Car would still like to hear from you if you are interested in being a columnist representing the precinct. Please get in touch [email protected] or [email protected]

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