CONTENTIOUS plans to open no through roads near the Mundaring town centre will likely be postponed until after a new council is elected.
The local government election is on October 17 and new councillors will be sworn in two days after.
The plans affect many residents along Lacey Road and Gill Street, who are concerned their streets will become rat runs to the Mundaring town centre if they are opened under sweeping changes to address bushfire risk in the Shire.
About 40 emergency access roads in the Shire of Mundaring are set to open as part of the Shire’s emergency access improvement program.
Obstructions will be removed from some roads while others will be widened, regraded, built or connected to other roads.
While most changes are accepted as bolstering the area’s bushfire resistance, some residents in Mundaring say their current system of gated road closures worked well.
About 30 members of the Lacey Road Action Group met council representatives and Swan Hills MLA Frank Alban recently to form a resolution.
Lacey Road resident Greg O’Brien said he felt the group’s concerns about the road opening exposing residents to other risks had been ignored.
“To date, the only reason we’ve been given over and over is that the Shire believes they are responding to guidelines and wider community concern with bushfire access/egress – but they have not provided us with any actual documentation that substantiates this,” he said.
Residents said they already experienced problems with hooning when the Lacey Road gate was open during fire season.
Peter Brazier, who lost his Traylen Road home in the Parkerville fire, now lives at the corner of Gill Street and Stevens Street.
He said if Gill Street were connected to Clifton Road, it would create the shortest route between Mundaring and Parkerville – an area flagged for substantial population growth.
“The Shire is trying to say this is all to do with bushfire safety and nothing to do with opening the roads as thoroughfares, but it does not make any sense,” he said.
“Both Gill Street and Lacey Road both already have fire access gates – widen the roads if you need to but why take away the gates to make it a thoroughfare?”
Shire chief executive Jonathan Throssell said the current system of locking no through road gates during winter months and unlocking them during the summer was no longer viable.
“Such a program is no longer effective for a number of reasons. We have had instances where people have relocked the gates, even placing rocks in the way to limit vehicle access,” he said.
“We are experiencing increasingly unpredictable fire seasons. There is an increasing risk of fires during winter months, which has been experienced in the east.
“Closed gates and inconsistent road widths can create a greater hazard for residents and emergency services. (The emergency access improvement program) is aimed at improving such situations.”