Law review targets nature strips, vacant land

Rubbish dumped on vacant land in Tarneit. Photo: Alesha Capone

By Alesha Capone

Residents who fail to keep their nature strip grass below 15 centimetres could potentially face enforcement measures from Wyndham council, under a proposed review of council’s local laws.

Owners of vacant land could also be forced to erect fences if their blocks are subjected to constant rubbish dumping, under the proposed review which was put forward by councillor Josh Gilligan last week.

Cr Gilligan asked council officers to prepare a report considering the merits of changing local laws to include enforcement for nature strip and vacant land issues.

He said that rubbish dumping was costing ratepayers more than $1 million per year.

He said that enforcement action could be used, along with education, to ensure compliance on tidy nature strips and vacant land.

“If people think it’s going to cost them, they will change their ways,” he said.

Cr Gilligan said the council already used education to attempt to get residents to comply with local laws on nature strips and rubbish dumping, along with requests to cut long lawn and monitoring of rubbish-dumping hot spots.

Cr Mia Shaw said she supported a report being written on the matter, although some residents struggled to maintain their nature strips “for a variety of reasons”.

Cr Heather Marcus said she also supported a report being written.

“Wyndham has never looked so untidy and I feel really sad about it, we were once the garden city,” she said.

Crs Heather Marcus and Jennie Barrera both said that prevention and education were an important part of changing resident’s attitudes towards untidy nature strips and rubbish dumping.

Cr Jasmine Hill said that although a lot of residents complained about rubbish dumping, she would not support changing local laws.

“Imagine a suburb full of fences, how depressing would that look?” she said.

Cr Robert Szatkowski described Cr Gilligan’s suggestion as “policy on the run”.

“I’m not convinced this proposal will achieve the change it is intended to achieve,” he said.

“Wielding a bigger stick will not change attitudes or behaviour.”

However, Cr Gilligan said the council would consult with the community before changing any local laws,

The council is due to receive a report on the matter at a meeting to be held on May 25.