City of Melbourne takes Moonee Ponds Creek national

City of Melbourne takes Moonee Ponds Creek national
Sean Car

Nicholas Reece has used his first visit to Canberra as Melbourne’s Lord Mayor to put the City of Melbourne’s vision for revitalising Moonee Ponds Creek on the national agenda.

As part of the Australian Local Government Association’s (ALGA) 2024 conference held from July 2 to 4, the City of Melbourne called on the Australian Government to broaden its funding stream as part of its Urban Rivers and Catchments Program (URCP).

The council has made revitalising the Moonee Ponds Creek corridor a major priority due to the increasingly urgent need to unlock new open space for future communities in the new Macauley and Arden precincts.

Cr Reece has also previously described the creek as “Melbourne’s most abused waterway”, with the council’s Moonee Ponds Creek Implementation Plan seeking to rewild the waterway for future generations.

However, as reported by North West City News in June, the implementation plan continues to await public release by the Victorian Government more than five years since the council endorsed it.

At the ALGA conference earlier this month, Cr Reece used the platform to highlight the “current complexities and challenges for local councils in achieving strategic outcomes and benefits for the community” when it came to revitalising urban waterways.


“[This] is something the City of Melbourne has experienced in its attempts to deliver a vision for the Moonee Ponds Creek corridor,” the council’s motion to the ALGA conference read.


“Various state government agencies and some private landowners own and manage parcels of the creek, which creates challenges around accountability, prioritisation, and alignment of funding. A broader federal funding stream can offer an opportunity for stakeholders to come together and take shared ownership of outcomes.”

The council suggested that more funding could be unlocked for such projects by expanding the range of projects eligible to be funded under the federal government’s URCP.

It also called for greater collaboration between state and territory governments to remove barriers to funding support where land ownership and management along urban waterways was complex.

The council argued this was “a national issue” because urban waterways were interconnected natural assets that provide significant environmental, social, and economic benefits to communities across Australia, and that local government had limited capacity to undertake such “comprehensive revitalisation”.

Lord Mayor Nicholas Reece said many councils needed more financial resources to undertake such projects, and that a national funding program would offer a “major opportunity” for Moonee Ponds Creek stakeholders “to revitalise the waterway together”.

“Moonee Ponds Creek should be a vibrant green corridor for the local community and play a crucial role in flood mitigation for the area,” Cr Reece said.

“Right now, it's the most neglected and abused urban waterway in Australia when it should be a valuable green space for one of the fastest growing precincts in all of Victoria.”

“Like many waterways, the creek stretches across multiple council boundaries and landowners, so we’re calling for an expansion to the Urban Waterways Fund to enable a more collaborative and strategic approach to urban waterway management.”

“This was once an area that was teeming with nature and wildlife, home to the pobblebonk frog. We want to hear the distinctive croak of the pobblebonk in Arden and Macaulay once again.”

The federal government’s Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW) was contacted for comment.

At the Future Melbourne Committee (FMC) meeting on July 9, Cr Rohan Leppert moved a motion calling on the government to urgently acquire and upgrade “drainage land” from VicTrack abutting Moonee Ponds Creek between Macauley Rd and Robertson St.

Under interim planning controls for Macaulay, Melbourne Water had been tasked with “securing this land” and would later be reimbursed through developer contributions collected by the council which wants it converted to open space.

The council is also expecting to be reimbursed by Melbourne Water for major drainage works in the creek corridor, including new flood storage at Stubbs St, pump station capacity upgrades, new gravity and pressure pipes and raised and new flood levees.

In February last year, the council awarded the contract to upgrade “Stubbs St number 2 pump station” with the expectation that it would be compensated under Melbourne’s Water’s “Urban Renewal Cost Recovery Scheme” (URCRS).

But late last year Melbourne Water abandoned this scheme indicating a need to explore alternative funding mechanisms, which has left the council $4million out of pocket for pump station upgrades for the foreseeable future.

Cr Leppert said the abandonment of the URCRS together with the urgent need to provide adequate open space for the “fast-growing” Macaulay, raised questions about “the appropriateness” of the current development contributions plan for the precinct.

“Without the URCRS or an alternative funding mechanism, and without any commensurate changes to amendment C417, revenue to government (council and Melbourne Water together) for the purposes of funding essential infrastructure will reduce significantly,” Cr Leppert’s motion stated.

“This fast-growing local population does not have adequate local public open space, with the ‘drainage land’ remaining fenced off and years away from acquisition under current settings.”

“It is the opinion of the mover that the urgency of acquiring the ‘drainage land’ has grown significantly since June 2022, and that Melbourne Water may not be in a position to acquire and improve this land in a satisfactory timeframe.”

The council is expected to provide a report by March 2025 setting out options for government to acquire the land without waiting for the final planning controls for Macaulay to be legislated.

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