Merri Creek Trail seating blitz: submission

Merri Creek Trail at Lorne Street in Fawkner. This path loop has no seating.

After two years of the pandemic, many people have discovered the delights of the Merri Creek Trail. They have also discovered a shortage of seating along long stretches of this path, especially in Coburg North and Fawkner.

Moreland Council has set aside funding for projects from community submissions. Sustainable Fawkner joined with other Moreland Community groups – Walk on Moreland; Friends of Merri Creek; Brunswick Residents Network; Friends of Coburg Lake and Surrounds; Neighbours United for Climate Action – to put in a submission on upgrading the seating along the Merri Creek Path.

We need your VOTE to make the Merri Creek Trail more accessible

Please vote for our proposal to Moreland’s Community Budget Ideas: the Merri Creek Trail: Seating Installation Blitz. 

We propose that Moreland install 35 seats along the Merri Creek Trail, about 400 metres apart. This will allow more residents to access and enjoy this beautiful area. Currently there are very few seats along the Trail, especially in Coburg North and Fawkner

Moreland Council will consider funding the proposals with the most votes. Our proposal will cost about half the available funds. 

Go to: https://conversations.moreland.vic.gov.au/community-budget-ideas/stage-2-support-fund-it-version

You need to Log In or Join. 

Select our project Merri Creek Trail: Seating Installation Blitz You need to vote for three proposals, so please choose another two. Voting closes on March 20.

At Sustainable Fawkner we also recommend support for Moreland BUG’s Moving Moreland’s Deliveries by Bike submission which will reduce transport emissions and reduce ‘last few kilometres’ delivery vehicles from our roads reducing traffic congestion, particularly in the south of our municipality.

Here is our full submission, as the Moreland Conversations website only provides a short summary.

Merri Creek Trail: Seating Installation Blitz

How will the community benefit from your idea?

Fancy a stroll along our beautiful Merri Creek? If you can’t walk long distances without a rest – beware! There’s hardly anywhere to sit. If you can’t get up from the ground easily, there are few places to picnic. Because there are not enough seats, many residents cannot reach much of the Merri Creek Trail. If there were more seats, more residents would walk there. They would have more opportunities to appreciate the creek environment, and to connect with each other and their local community.

We propose that Moreland installs about 35 park seats (with back and armrests) along the Merri Creek Trail (Moreland section), at a maximum spacing of 400 metres. Seats would be placed next to the Trail, at places with sufficient space and (where possible) a scenic view and shade. Seats would also be placed at the points where people enter or leave the trail, so they can rest after walking. Each seat would include a small sign to recognise local flora and fauna.

This project would benefit residents from Fawkner, Coburg North, Coburg, Brunswick East, Brunswick, and anyone visiting the creek. This project is also scalable – more seats means more benefits.

CURRENT SEATING SITUATION

We have counted seats along much of the Trail. We also referred to Moreland Council’s Seat Audit (2021). We think the current seating situation is mostly very poor.
• There are only a couple of places to rest in the 5.6 km stretch between Coburg Lake Reserve and Moomba Park Reserve
• South of Coburg Lake Reserve, there are long stretches (over 800 m) without seats.
• Some seats were located too far from the path (such as at a playground).
• Some seats were difficult to reach. Some were too high for comfort. Some had no back nor armrests.
• Some resting places were just logs or fences.
• Some former seats had been removed.

BROAD COMMUNITY BENEFITS

The project will improve community engagement, connection, and wellbeing. It will improve residents’ access to the Merri Creek, particularly for those who need to take regular rests (elderly, young, physically challenged). As global heating accelerates, more people will need resting places more often. Our natural environment, along the waterway and amongst the greenery, are cool and beautiful places to rest.

The project will help to improve residents’ mental health and wellbeing, by giving more opportunities for people to connect more deeply to nature. (Many studies have shown this link.) It gives people the opportunity to practise mindfulness, by being silent, present, and more fully experiencing the environment through sound, sight, touch. Mindfulness and being present are important practices that help build positive wellbeing.

We propose that each seat includes a small sign about an indigenous plant, bird, animal or insect. This will also help build people’s ecological literacy and knowledge, and help to improve local biodiversity.

The Covid pandemic has impacted many people’s mental health. Building community, connecting with nature and creating spaces that foster mindfulness and positive wellbeing are crucial. This project helps deliver on all of these in an on-going and cost-effective way.

ALIGNMENT WITH COUNCIL DOCUMENTS

The alignment with Council Plan 2021-25 is as follows:
• Theme 1: An environmentally proactive Moreland – improves accessibility to open space
• Theme 2: Moving and living safely in Moreland – improves accessibility of pedestrian infrastructure
• Theme 3: A healthy and caring Moreland – improves community health by removing a barrier to walking
• Theme 4: Vibrant spaces and places in Moreland – improves accessibility to open space

Other documents include:
• Moreland’s Open Spaces Strategies (in 1997, 2004 and 2012) all highlighted residents’ concerns about insufficient seating in open spaces. The 2012 version notes the need for more seating in goal 6 “Enhancing participation and use of open space”.
• The Moonee Ponds and Merri Creek Resting Places Strategy (2002) has already identified many suitable resting places; however, more are needed to ensure adequate spacing.
• The 2020 Merri Creek Coburg Safety Survey noted that more seating would increase usage, thereby increasing safety.
• Moreland’s Disability Access and Inclusion Plan (2022 Draft) commits Council to improving access to open spaces.
• The Living and Ageing Well in Moreland Framework noted: “Public benches and other opportunities to rest, as well as, adequate toilets, are essential for older people with some functional limitation to feel confident in public spaces”.
• Moreland’s Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plan highlighted the need for accessible open spaces.
• Moreland Nature Plan (2020) identified actions to increase people’s connection to nature. These include providing more interpretive and educational materials, such as flora and fauna signage and investing in access and amenity improvements along the creek corridor.
• Fawkner Merri Parklands Plan aims to increase community usage of this area.

PROPONENTS

This proposal is submitted by 6 local groups:
• Walk on Moreland
• Friends of Merri Creek
• Brunswick Residents Network
• Sustainable Fawkner
• Friends of Coburg Lake and Surrounds
• Neighbours United for Climate Action
If successful, these groups are available to assist in finding suitable locations for the seating, and images and wording for the seating signs.

What is the cost of your idea?

$100,000 – $150,000

What is the basis for your costing?

We estimate the cost would be $119,000 for 35 seats

Purchase and installation of public seats (including concrete pad): $3100 per seat. Estimate received from local businesses, based on some locations being removed from road network. Total for 35 seats is $108,500

Purchase of signage: $300 per sign. Total for 35 signs is $10,500

Our estimate of 35 seats is based on the length of the Merri Creek Trail (about 12 km in Moreland) and a maximum spacing of 400 m. The average spacing will be less than 400 m due to the importance of other locational attributes. There are currently many suitable seats around Coburg Lake, and some adequate seats in the Brunswick section. We also propose additional seats at access points.

In which suburb in Moreland will your idea take place?

All suburbs along the Merri Creek Trail

Aligning your ideas to the Council Plan 2021 – 2025

How does your initiative align with the key themes of our Community Vision?

  • ·        Vibrant spaces and places in Moreland
  • ·        A healthy and caring Moreland
  • ·        Moving and living safely in Moreland
  • ·        An environmentally proactive Moreland

=== End ===

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