It’s a blooming good idea

It’s a blooming good idea

It’s been a busy month across the City of Melbourne with the recent release and adoption of the 2023-2024 budget and the update of the council’s five-year plan. 

Southbank3006 was delighted with the many inclusions in this budget for Southbank including the commitments to the ACCA forecourt project, a heightened focus on graffiti and littering across the city, but especially commitments to greening the city with new open space.  

We also endorsed the overall budget settings in terms of containing rate increases to residents and appropriate use of deficit funding to continue the post-COVID recovery program.

Southbank3006 has often presented innovative ideas to improve the beautification of our suburb so when addressing the budget at the Future of Melbourne Committee meeting on June 20 Southbank3006 floated a “blooming good idea”. 

Southbank3006 suggested that the council move to become an enabler of others, such as owners’ corporations (OCs), to become involved in creating community gardens in the space outside their buildings across all of Southbank.

Too often these areas have become desolate uninviting spaces creating drab landscapes around the entire area. Southbank3006 believes that these otherwise dead spaces can be repurposed and rejuvenated into community gardens where residents could tend and nurture flowers, small shrubs or vegetables adding to the streetscape and increasing the garden appeal of their building’s streetscape.   

Enabling residents to have the power to transform the streetscape will deliver an active community development benefit and can be delivered more efficiently than relying on the council’s works program.

But this can only work with the council reaching out and providing the structure and small grants to OCs to enable and empower them to take on this role. The council has worked with OCs and developers over the years but having a focussed open space program such as this would kick-start greening of Southbank and its kerbside areas as a precursor to a low-traffic neighbourhood program.  

This is a great way to involve residents in community gardening. As OCs are legal entities, the council can contract with them and use community grants to get these projects off the ground on a wide scale, enabling residents and community volunteers with a green thumb, or simply a love of gardening, to take ownership in maintaining their buildings’ gardens. 

The success of the Southbank Sustainability Group and its community gardens at Boyd Community Hub shows we have many members throughout our community ready and willing to roll up their sleeves and get down and dirty.  

If the council took up what we have suggested then this can be extended right across all of Southbank whether it is in Southbank Village, the Arts Precinct, or Southbank West and South Wharf.  With 98 per cent of us living in strata complexes this is something for all of us who live in vertical villages. 

The City of Port Phillip has implemented neighbourhood gardening and allowed residents to tend to nature strips with the support of the council. This has not only improved the aesthetic of their streets, but they have also seen an increase in the local insect population and in particular, bees.

This is indeed an innovative way for the council to involve community in maintaining and running council funded gardens. As we know gardening has so many health benefits, from getting out in the sunlight and fresh air to having a nourishing connection with the earth.

If the council pursues this proposal, OCs can have the responsibility and residents can love, tend to, and nurture their gardens, then sit back and watch the flowers bloom.  

Such an initiative brings together the council’s plans and policies around neighbourhood development, sustainability, urban forests, climate change, and traffic management/pedestrian safety. And wouldn’t that be blooming wonderful? •

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