Yarra City Council is committed to ensuring its parks and open spaces continue to be a place for everyone in the community to enjoy.
In recent months Council has taken a number of steps to ensure the safe and respectful sharing of its public spaces.
A new parks ambassadors program was introduced two months ago, with local laws officers visiting Yarra’s major parks each weekend.
During these visits the officers monitored attendance, visitor behaviour, Council assets including barbecues and toilets and provided information and support to park users and visitors.
Yarra Mayor Councillor Gabrielle de Vietri said parks had provided much-needed respite for many people during lockdown and continued to be a source of enjoyment.
“Never has the true value of our parks been realised more than during the pandemic,” she said.
“We love the fact our parks are a place that people from across Melbourne choose to come to socialise and catch up with friends and we want that to continue.”
At last night’s Council Meeting Councillors voted against an alcohol ban at Edinburgh Gardens.
Alcohol is banned on New Year’s Eve but can be consumed at Yarra parks between 9am and 9pm at other times of the year.
The push for the ban came after residents living near Edinburgh Gardens raised concerns about noise, anti-social behaviour and drug use.
Cr de Vietri said Council has introduced a number of initiatives at Edinburgh Gardens to maximise visitor experience over the summer.
“This includes additional toilets, a ramped up cleansing program, new signage and additional promotion of its local laws.”
Council has also been working closely with Victoria Police to address residents’ concerns.
“There is no question Edinburgh Gardens continues to be one of the most popular parks in Yarra, attracting more visitors on a regular basis than any other,” Cr de Vietri said.
“We will continue to communicate with our community and visitors to the park about appropriate behaviours to ensure those using our parks do so in a safe and respectful way.”
“Our belief is that Edinburgh Gardens, together with all of our parks across Yarra, should be a place for everyone to enjoy.”
Moved: Councillor Stone Seconded: Councillor O’Brien
1. That Council:
(a) does not support any extension or amendment to the Consumption of Liquor in Public Places Local Law to remove Edinburgh Gardens as a prescribed place;
(b) notes the concerns raised by some residents concerning safety in and around Edinburgh Gardens; and
(c) notes the significant response provided by Council officers and the resources already dedicated to managing the issues.
2. That Council also acknowledges:
(a) the disruption to residential amenity that the behaviour of some park users has caused in recent months, post-COVID lockdown, and the distress that has caused to some residents;
(b) the strong community opposition to an extension of this ban beyond the current 9 pm to 9am specified in the local law;
(c) recognises immediate action is required and that it may be an evolving situation requiring a flexible approach; and
(d) the lack of data available about the level of illegal conduct in and around the gardens.
3. That Council:
(a) delegates a determination by the CEO prior to the next Council meeting, if the provision of further resources are required including:
(i) whether additional toilets or porta loos are needed, further to those recently provided;
(ii) whether an increased cleaning regime is desirable noting the all day cleaning regime on peak days at present;
(iii) whether some toilet accessibility should be provided at all times;
(iv) ensuring the distribution of any additional toilets are placed in such a way that the whole park is serviced; and
(v) ensuring positive signage is provided to inform visitors of any new toilets;
(b) delegates a determination by the CEO prior to the next Council meeting, if additional rubbish bins, recycling and waste management are needed;
(c) requests that where action is determined by the CEO to necessary under 2(a) or (b) above, that, Officers implement the measures and/or install additional facilities as quickly as possible;
(d) request Yarra staff continue to engaged in laneway cleaning of all surfaces, not just bluestone paving, where necessary and possible given heritage fabric of some walls and fences; and
(e) requests a positive communications campaign to encourage appropriate behaviours and respect for neighbouring residential areas.
4. That Council:
(a) establish an Edinburgh Gardens Working Group of regular park users, local residents and a representative of Fitzroy North Primary School, to inform future management of the gardens in peak periods over summer and public holidays;
(b) request officers to provide a Terms of Reference for this working group be provided to the first council meeting in 2021 with EOIs to be held during February and the working group meet as soon as possible after;
(c) that officers ensure the working group represent the diverse users of the Gardens, residents and key stake holders; and
(d) that the working group meet as soon as possible after the conclusion of the selection process.
5. In the longer term,
(a) request officers provide an update report in March detailing:
(i) the estimated numbers of visitors to Edinburgh Gardens each weekend and public holiday over summer;
(ii) the number of incidents involving threats to public safety reported to council and/or police; and
(iii) the number of incidents reported to Council by police which involved fines or arrests in this period;
(b) request this report include an assessment of the number of public toilets needed to serve this number of visitors and a plan for making more permanently available by:
(i) including publicly available toilets in the redevelopment of the pavilion/ tennis club precinct;
(ii) proposals for refurbishing the Emely Baker building to incorporate permanent publicly available toilets;
(iii) the proposed a location for a new additional permanent toilet block in Edinburgh Gardens; and
(iv) opportunities for state government funding to support this regional infrastructure;
(c) request that this report also be provided to the working group described above.
6. That Council request the CEO ensure that a cross-organisational approach continue to be taken in monitoring and responding to the use of Edinburgh Gardens with a key contact person identified for the community and that regular reports be provided to council and the local community.
7. That, should it be considered necessary, a Special Council meeting be convened in January to determine any further action.