Improving Unley’s tree canopy is at the forefront of pragmatic solutions available to Council, and its Community in the fight to combat climate change.
The three consecutive councils I have been a member of have all recognised this simple truth. All three have worked on finding a way of addressing this. The current council has put much work into finding ways to improve our tree canopy cover or, at the very least, stop the decline we have experienced in that time.
Council is doing what it can on its own property. It has identified all the available locations on the property we control to plant new trees. Given the property we own however is but a small percentage of the total we have agreed we must find a way to promote greater tree canopy on private land.
We have failed to bring it to a head, however. We have had chances to put proposals to our community for their reaction. A recent effort on my part to take a proposition to our community was defeated on the floor of the chamber.
And this by a Council professing to be green.
In a recent blog post, I spoke of a failed motion put by me back in February. A motion seeking your input on the use of financial incentives to encourage increased tree planting on private property. A motion which incidentally was lost 7 to 4. This I see as a lost opportunity.
To see how each member voted go here and go to item 4.5 on page 5.
That blog post also referred to a potential new motion to apply financial incentives. This time only applying a rate offset fund to developers of properties in Unley that increase the built footprint on their property.
A motion that provides Council with dual benefits. A motion that may encourage developers to remove the trees on their site. Even plant trees that have the potential to be significant.
It also creates an opportunity to finance property acquisitions to increase our green open space and to plant trees on such properties. At under 3% we are devoid of green open space. The next worst Council has 9%.
Such a motion has been delayed. I believe this because some members of this council have publicly suggested this is not a Council policy. Moreover, they claim it is only the policy of the Mayor. Given this, this motion awaits a more favourable climate for introducing it.
If we had such policies available to us already then Council may have been in a position to purchase properties that have recently become available. Many of you would be aware of two possibilities this year, both in Black Forest.
I remain prepared to move such a motion.
A motion that seeks to put a proposal on financial incentives to you (our community) for you to provide feedback on. Indeed, a motion that I would seek with your backing and that of the Minister to trial the use of incentives on developers.
This I believe is the best (if not only) way of improving Unley’s tree canopy. A pragmatic solution.
If you re-elect me in October/November I undertake to pursue this potential pragmatic solution.
This article was written & authorised by Don Palmer. 19 Kelvin Avenue, Clarence Park.