Councils have a statutory requirement to ensure public open spaces are safe to use, and the Borough of Queenscliffe places the highest priority on keeping our community safe.
Following a major storm late last year, Council has been undertaking rectification works on and around damaged and dying trees in Victoria Park in Queenscliff. These works have included tree lopping and removals, as well as fencing around affected trees. Over the past week, Council officers and WorkSafe have reviewed our progress on this work and completed additional assessments of the trees and protective fencing. These reviews have determined that many trees still pose an unacceptable risk to the public due to storm damage and structural weakness, and that despite our best efforts, further works will be required to reduce this risk to an appropriate level.
In the interest of public safety, Council has made the difficult decision to temporarily close Victoria Park to all public access. Due to the urgency of the risks identified, these closures are effective immediately. Fencing and signage will be installed from 7am on Thursday 26 May to restrict access to affected areas. Council officers have already started working on a rectification and replanting plan for the park, which will be considered at an upcoming meeting of Council. These works are likely to take many months to complete, and Victoria Park will need to remain closed to public access until that time.
Council will also immediately begin tree management works on a small number of trees in the area around the oval and in the Recreation Reserve campground. These works will involve removing some branches from at-risk trees, and removing a small number of trees entirely where it has become apparent that those trees have suffered irreversible decline. We expect these works to be completed in a few days, and to not impede access to community facilities or campsites.
Council acknowledges that the temporary loss of public space and campsites as a result of these closures is disappointing, and that the prospect of mature trees reaching the end of their life can be confronting. Despite this disappointment, public safety must guide all our decisions in how Council manages the park and its trees. The sooner works can be completed to remove the risk to the public, the sooner we can reopen the park and begin planting new trees to replace those we have lost.