Residents disgusted over old Kinlock Primary School site maintenance

L-R: Chris Foley, Ian and Janet Vaughan and Janice Farrell at the old Kinlock Primary School site. Picture: David Baylis
L-R: Chris Foley, Ian and Janet Vaughan and Janice Farrell at the old Kinlock Primary School site. Picture: David Baylis

WHAT used to be a primary school has became a source of nightmares for a group of Ferndale residents.

While the old Kinlock Primary School used to house eager students, nearby residents now consider it a fire hazard in the middle of suburbia and home to dangerous snakes and dumped rubbish.

Earlier this year, the Department of Communities announced the land was slated for infill development but neighbours have been angry over maintenance since the school was demolished in 2007.

Local resident Janet Vaughan said she and her neighbours were sick of the land looking like an eyesore and were forced to campaign for grass to be cut ever year.

“It seems the slashing is done according to dates rather than need and this year has been particularly bad as far as grass growth is concerned,” she said.

Living across the road from the site in summer presents a number of concerns for Mrs Vaughan, including the danger of snakes and bushfires.

“I had a 1.5m dugite in my backyard recently; we had a good, long look at each other before I walked back very slowly,” she said.

“If any of us leave our yards to become overgrown and a fire hazard, we will be fined $5000 by the council, but it seems as if it’s a government authority, nothing happens. It is a fire risk as it is now; there are some large trees that if they go up, they are in the midst of residential areas.”

Her neighbour Chris Foley said she was sick of the land being used as a dumping site and was forced to contact the department and City of Canning on numerous occasions.

“Every day we have to go and face this. I got our bills and I was going to ask for a discount to put up with this across the road,” she said.

“I started the emails before the last school holidays and all I’m getting is ‘it’s not our problem’.

“Everybody in this area has actually really good gardens where nothing is overgrown and then you’ve got to face that and it’s like a slap in the face, it’s so wrong we have to live with it.”

City of Canning mayor Paul Ng confirmed they had received a number of complaints about the land and found the site was found to be in breach of the Annual Fire Hazard Notice on October 24.

“The land being owned by the State Government is not bound by the requirements of the Bush Fires Act 1954, however the Department of Communities does have a duty of care to ensure the fire risk is minimised,” he said.

Department of Communities assistant director of general commercial operations Greg Cash confirmed they had received four complaints this year relating to the site, but all were related to illegal rubbish dumping—not overgrown grass.

Mr Cash said they sprayed the lot to reduce fuel load in August and a contractor visited the site on Friday November 16 to slash the regrowth.

“The land is maintained annually to reduce fuel load in readiness for the fire season, in accordance with the Bush Fire Act 1954,” he said.

“After that, land maintenance is undertaken only as conditions require it. This may occur when the need is identified by the council, local residents, or drive by inspections by Department officers.”