Details of what transpired on Monday, and what we expect to happen next.
Oct 25, 2016 — At the public rally on Monday, the community through three representatives and in the presence of several police officers including a very senior police officer, were given the department's word that no vegetation at all would be removed from the site until a consultation process, now to commence with the community had concluded.
They agreed to meet with an "expert" group first to work through some issues and what possibilities there might be to save various trees across the site - for example in "grey areas" of close proximity to the schools footprint.
There was then to be a broader public information session for the community at large including an opportunity for the community to ask questions, express views, and make suggestions.
Subsequently written confirmation has been received from the VSBA that no vegetation will be cleared as was agreed on Monday, until the consultation process has been worked through.
No date has been fixed for the initial meeting of experts, and none of the documents requested have as yet been conveyed by the VSBA but an indication has been received the first meeting will occur next week, with the likely public consultation following the week after. An earlier time frame had been hoped for by community representatives keen not to lose time.
The comments made by Minister Merlino, creating concern and anxiety (and confusion) as they have, seem to be unhelpful and hopefully misleading, particularly when his own department were authorised to follow the path of consultation described.
Perhaps a civilised face-to-face discussion with the Minister on Monday might have been helpful?
This only reinforces the importance of the entire community continuing to maintain the pressure applied on the government to deliver accurate information and properly consult, then change what can be changed to reflect the community's desires, before the look of the final plans for the site are finalised.
Bearing in mind the Ministers words, anything but a genuine and comprehensive consultation with the community will not be acceptable and will not satisfy our community. We eagerly await the actual commencement of the information sharing and consultation.