By Mikayla Van Loon
Parks and recreation reserves in Chirnside Park, Mount Evelyn and Mooroolbark have received a big cash boost thanks to the State government’s Growing Suburbs Fund.
Four projects have been selected, the largest of those being the Chirnside Urban Park which will see an overhaul of Belsay Reserve on Kimberley Drive opposite Chirnside Park shopping centre.
Two million dollars has been granted in the Growing Suburbs Fund for the Chirnside Urban Park, while $539,680 will be given to the Coldstream Station Activation, $128,000 for Bailey Road Playspace and $150,000 for Mooroolbark Heights Playspace.
The projects have also been matched in funding from Yarra Ranges Council as voted on at the 13 July council meeting.
Chirnside Ward councillor Richard Higgins said the council was “second to none” in getting support from the State government for projects like this.
“What a fantastic outcome this item is, $3 million or there abouts for projects throughout the council area, matched dollar for dollar by the council and the State governments Growing Suburbs Fund,” Cr Higgins said.
“It’s $3 million injected into our capital works projects and works that were probably down the track a little bit but have been brought forward and it is a necessary thing that we have these projects ready and able to be funded by funds like this at all times.”
The improvements to outdoor spaces and parks falls under the council’s vision for 2020 to provide a healthy and sustainable future.
These projects aim to contribute to decreasing obesity and improving mental health and wellbeing by engaging and encouraging people to be physically active through the supply of better outdoor recreation spaces, purposeful equipment and friendly, all-accessible parks.
Melba Ward councillor Sophie Todorov said it’s important for people to have places they can enjoy outside, to gather and escape.
“What is really great to see is that these projects again align with the council’s three priority areas, to really increase and promote that sense of health and wellbeing in our council, which is so important especially in light of all the recent tragic events that the community has been through,” she said.
“It’s also important to note that a lot of these projects have had the passion and creativity from community consultation and all their input into these projects as well, so all round it is a win/win.”
Cr Higgins had previously said in the 27 April council meeting that projects like the Chirnside Urban Park were essential for the ever growing suburbs in the Yarra Ranges urban areas.
“There’s no hiding from the fact that, in the future, Chirnside Park will have higher density living – there’s room for it, and it’s in the planning scheme,” Cr Higgins said.
“In time, this park will become an absolute necessity for the people who live in this area. It’s really badly needed and will be used for many years, so it’s an absolute privilege to see this get up and running.”
With the council contributing $1 for every $1 of State government funding, Cr Higgins said it’s like getting 50 per cent off.
“Dollar for dollar projects means we’re nearly getting these projects for half price councillors and I don’t know about you but I reckon that’s a great outcome,” he said.
The council will provide a $1.2 million funding contribution from the Asset New and Improvement Reserve for Chirnside Urban Park, while a lump sum of $1.5 million from the Public Open Space Fund will be allocated to the urban park and Coldstream Station Activation.
Funds for the Bailey Road Playspace and Mooroolbark Heights Playspace had already been allocated in the Capital Expenditure Program for 2021-22.