Gwelup residents rally against reserve plan

Gwelup residents rally against reserve plan

GWELUP residents are rallying against proposed changes to Careniup Swamp Reserve.

The Gwelup Progress Association and many local residents do not support the City of Stirling’s draft plan for the reserve, which was released for public comment in November.

The reserve contains the Secret Garden, a popular attraction because of the effect created by the rampant morning glory weed.

Association president Taylor Watson said they opposed aspects of the plan including elevated walkways through the garden, removal of surrounding lighting and potential disruption to native wildlife and vegetation.

“While the Secret Garden has fast become an attractive site for visitors, residents living around it care more about its longer term sustainability and safety which is now at risk,” she said.

“(We) hope that City officers do the right thing and respect the wishes of those most affected when considering their next steps.”

The plan also proposes creating a picnic area and toilet in the reserve centre, which residents opposite were concerned would impact their property.

Other aspects include a concrete path on the western side of the swamp, upgraded bird watching area, raised viewing space, bridge across the swamp, additional parking and tree planting to screen view of houses on Careniup Avenue.

City parks and sustainability manager Ian Hunter said the reserve was important to residents as well as the wider community and needed “careful management”.

“In an effort to protect and conserve the area, we have developed the draft management plan to help balance the environmental and conservation needs of the swamp reserve, while still meeting the recreation needs of the community,” he said.

“Some key focus areas of the plan are to maintain a healthy, natural ecosystem within the swamp precinct, provide a network of parks, environmental experiences and amenities that will meet the community’s passive recreation needs into the future.”

Resident Andrea Colthart said there was inadequate consultation in developing the plan and believed the City did not have a “real feel for what residents want”.

“They’re ignoring us. They’ve gone against our wishes,” she said.

She and others were concerned about environmental impacts and though agreed with the City’s weed removal strategy, believed it did not go far enough to protect conservation areas.

According to Mr Hunter, feedback received from the community and association over the past few years was considered during development of the draft plan, it incorporated reports by Natural Area Consulting Management Services and was presented to the City’s environment advisory group.

The plan is expected to be presented to council for consideration in April and will include public consultation feedback.