New candidates, pro-climate ideas

Most respondents were against property development in Greater Dandenong''s Green Wedge, according to a SECAN council-election candidate survey. 217688_27 Picture: GARY SISSONS

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

New election candidates are strongly in favour of more tree canopy, cycling lanes, an electric vehicle fleet and the Green Wedge, according to a South East Climate Action Network survey.

Of the 67 standing candidates, 23 submitted answers to the survey.

Sean O’Reilly, who is standing in Springvale North Ward, was the only sitting Greater Dandenong councillor to respond.

On the controversial waste-to-energy plant in Dandenong South, most candidates (57 per cent) thought the council should lobby the State Government to stop the project if its upcoming VCAT appeal fails.

Four candidates opposed the facility but thought the council should accept the VCAT outcome.

Tree canopy targets have been a contentious issue at Greater Dandenong Council, especially on possible restrictions on tree removal on private land.

Twenty of the 23 survey respondents (87 per cent) supported “actions” to increase tree canopy on public and private land to at least meet the council’s 15 per cent target.

Nine of them (39 per cent) supported increasing the target in line with other metro councils.

The three remaining respondents supported increased action on public land only, even if the target isn’t met.

Green Wedge development has divided councillors over several terms.

Surveyed candidates were unanimously against rezoning any of the Bangholme and Keysborough green wedge for property development.

Most respondents were against any further development in the zone (56 per cent), with the rest allowing community facilities only.

More than 90 per cent backed more cycling infrastructure. Most (65 per cent) endorsed cycling lanes on appropriate roads, others for bike paths only.

In regards to a cat dusk-to-dawn curfew, 21 of 23 respondents were in support.

All respondents were in support of Greater Dandenong Council adopting an electric vehicle fleet. Most (57 per cent) thought the council should wait until there was cost parity with conventional vehicles.

All candidates but for one supported imposing Environmentally Sustainable Design policy across all private buildings to cut carbon emissions.

The Keysborough South Community Hub’s design should be as “sustainable as possible” even if it increases the initial cost, according to 74 per cent of surveyed candidates.

Three candidates opted for a greater priority on the upfront cost.

On the council’s recently-endorsed Climate Emergency Strategy, 13 per cent were “very familiar” with the plan and 61 per cent “reasonably familiar”. Twenty-two per cent were unfamiliar with the strategy.

The respondents to the survey were Solange Ardiles, Madhu Warnakulasuriya and Hayat Rahimi (Cleeland), Geraldine Gonsalvez (Dandenong), Gabrielle Maes (Dandenong North), Phillip Danh and Sheree Samy (Keysborough), Rhonda Garad, Jessica Halliday, Ramy El-Sukkari, Gam Le and Moonsamy Naidoo (Keysborough South), Nizar Ashkar (Noble Park North), Minh Tran and Richard Lim (Springvale Central), Sean O’Reilly (Springvale North), Leang Vuorch Kong and Thay Horn Yim (Springvale South) and Ravi Shankar, Eden Foster, Ahmed Shukri, Hengshan Chen and Gul Rahman Taniwal (Yarraman).

Sitting councillors Angela Long (Cleeland), Jim Memeti (Dandenong), Zaynoun Melhem (Dandenong North), Tim Dark (Keysborough), Sophie Tan (Noble Park), Maria Sampey (Noble Park North) and Loi Truong (Springvale South) didn’t respond.

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