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Public views sought for Yarra River plan

05 Feb 2020

Public views sought for Yarra River plan Image

For the first time ever traditional owners, local councils and government agencies have come together to form a future plan for the Yarra River, and the pioneering effort is now seeking public input.

The draft Yarra Strategic Plan, a 10-year framework that sets the foundation to achieve a wider 50-year vision, is open for public comment until March 22.

Traditionally many stakeholders (including the City of Melbourne) have managed the river, which runs from the Yarra Ranges to Hobsons Bay.

But since May 2018, lead agency Melbourne Water has sought to de-clutter the complex government, park and agency boundaries of the river corridor, recognising that management in one area has a flow-on effect in other parts.

In particular, it has worked in collaboration with representatives from the Wurundjeri Woiwurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation, plus 15 state and local government entities towards an overarching plan for the river, which is traditionally named Birrarung.

Specifically, the 10-year strategic plan has sought to:

  • improve the river’s water quality and protect its land, floodplains and billabongs;
  • acknowledge, protect and commemorate the river’s rich heritage and its stories;
  • improve the rivers parklands for a growing population; and
  • protect the natural beauty of the Yarra River corridor.

Melbourne Water spokesperson Gavan O’Neill said the community’s feedback represented an important aspect of forming the strategy.

“The Yarra River, Birrarung, has shaped the Victorian landscape for 100 million years and holds great cultural, spiritual, social, recreational and economic value to Victorians,” Mr O’Neill said.

“Community feedback on the current draft will help inform the shape of the final plan.”

Late last year the City of Melbourne released its own Yarra River – Birrarung Strategy specific to its boundaries; one it said aligned with the holistic Melbourne Water plan.

In passing the strategy through council on December 3, Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the river was finally getting the attention it deserved.

“Absolutely we’ve turned our back on this river for far too long and it should be something that is central to the city,” Cr Capp said.

The Yarra/Birrarung is making somewhat of a resurgence on the radar of Melburnians.

In recent months Arbory Afloat, a floating bar and restaurant on the river (Northbank side) won the 2019 Melbourne Award for hospitality.

Not-for-profit group Yarra Pools has gathered strong support around bold plans for a riverside pool and wetlands area.

And while it was cancelled due to poor weather, the river’s popular “Inflatable Regatta” on February 1 was expecting 1500 participants •

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