Merger opportunities

THE seemingly inevitable council amalgamations offer some great opportunities.

Increased scrutiny from well-credentialled councillors and other accountability measures will have the greatest impact on improving the performance of new councils.

Regardless, all those good things councils do well will continue; inevitably rates will rise, or not, depending on whom you believe.

Excitingly, expanded riverside councils will have a greater opportunity to address some of the problems with our magnificent Swan River.

For example, a combined Bassendean/ Bayswater council will gain guardianship of 16 kilometres of rapidly degrading riverbank.

Their obligation to stop erosion and improve the river’s health should be enshrined in any future relationship between residents, our future local governments and the state.

Their commitment should commence by undoing the damage already done.

As a case in point, one needs to look no further than the plight of two major wetlands in particular ” Baigup, Maylands, and the Ashfield Flats.

Constructing raised tarmac pathways through these once-pristine wetlands probably sounded like a good idea at the time.

The folly is today there for all to see.

Incongruously, at either end of the pathway in Maylands, large signs herald magnificent wetlands, yet in the centre, we have miniature signs embedded in stagnant ponds warning of toxicity.

Ashfield Flats was changed forever when much of it was drained and reclaimed for dairy farming.

Establishing pathways through both wetlands has restricted natural tidal ebb and flow, causing large areas to become stagnant, disease-ridden mosquito-breeding areas choked by exotic plants.

Both are devoid of any resemblance to natural ecosystems, despite the well-intentioned efforts of volunteer rehabilitation groups.

As a solution, I suggest both pathways be used to service the installation of raised boardwalks before the paths are removed.

When voting in next year’s local government elections, we should look to candidates who provide a binding covenant to improve the health of those upper sections of the river so important to the entire estuary system.

Finally, parochialism aside, may I suggest we call this new riverside municipality the Westbank council?

BOB BROWN,

Ashfield Community Action Network (AshCan) member, Ashfield