Council votes to change status of Huntly Lions Park

The City of Greater Bendigo will seek to change the status of the Huntly Lions Park and Marong Tourist Camping Reserve, removing the ability for people to camp at either site.

Council last night voted to write to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and request Huntly Lions Park, located on the Midland Highway, and Marong Tourism Camping Reserve, located off the Calder Highway on the Bendigo-side of Marong, operate as a general recreation and picnic areas only.

It is expected a change in status would take up to four months to process.

Huntly Lions Park is Crown land and currently zoned for recreation but has a reservation purpose of camping and water supply, so the Community Local Law cannot be used to move campers on. In changing the status of the park, it will mean the Local Law could be applied in future if needed.

Mayor Cr Andrea Metcalf said Council's decision follows a number of complaints over the last few years about safety and cleanliness at Huntly Lions Park and extensive consultation with Victoria Police, Haven Home Safe and DELWP.

"This has been a challenging issue for Councillors, as we recognise COVID-19 has exacerbated homelessness and housing stress remains a significant issue for Greater Bendigo," Cr Metcalf said.

"That is why in June last year Council endorsed a recommendation not to change the status of the park and review the situation in early 2022. In that time, City, Haven Home Safe and Victoria Police staff have continued working with campers to find alternative accommodation and manage behaviour, while keeping the park clean.

"Haven Home Safe has acknowledged changing the status of the park would provide greater incentive for their clients to take up alternate accommodation on offer, and Victoria Police would also be able to better manage poor behaviour.

"Council recognises the significant work done by Haven Home Safe to date and thanks City staff and all agencies involved."

Should a change in status be supported for Huntly Lions Park, the City would make some minor changes to the park, such as the addition of bollards, to stop cars and caravans entering as well as additional parking at the front.

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