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Bellarine Times column by Cr Jim Mason – 21 June 2021

Protect yourself, protect others

It’s a great feeling to have lockdown several weeks behind us, giving businesses and the wider community a chance to return to a sense of normalcy.

The City’s facilities such as pools, skate parks and community hubs are open with density limits, there are footy crowds at GMHBA Stadium and Melburnians are back supporting our tourism industry.

I’m not far away from getting my second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, after a very uneventful initial jab.

The staff at my local clinic were very efficient and generous with their attention, and I haven’t suffered any side effects since.

I encourage readers to get fully vaccinated as soon as they’re eligible, because the only way we can slow the spread of this disease is through herd immunity – which means a large number of people need to roll up their sleeves.

With Victorians leading the nation in getting the jab, I hope you feel encouraged by my experience to do the same when you become eligible.

If you’re not sure, speak to your doctor.

For more information on who can get what vaccine and when, or to make a booking, visit www.barwonhealth.org.au/coronavirus/booking-a-vaccination or call 1800 675 398.

Eligible community members can also do a ‘walk-in’ at the community vaccination centre at 2-30 North Shore Road in Norlane (old Ford factory), or you can book with your local GP.

Let’s all do our bit!

Community funding

With community groups, organisations and clubs back up and running after Lockdown #4, there’s no better time for a pick-me-up from council.

Our $4.042 million 2021-22 grants program is open right now across 11 categories, including environmental sustainability, the arts and community infrastructure.

As chair of the Aboriginal Affairs portfolio, I’m particularly thrilled about the First Nations Cultural Heritage grant, which has $200,000 available over two rounds.

We’re offering this for the first time ever, for projects that preserve, protect and renew Aboriginal cultural heritage.

With tens of thousands of years of history and culture, there are endless possibilities and I’m pleased our First Nations People will be empowered and supported in this important work.

I enjoy following a project from start to finish, such as the Indented Head Community Association’s tennis court and basketball multi-purpose facility project at Wrathall Reserve.

I was amazed to see the tired and cracked bitumen tennis court replaced with the help of a $66,000 grant and basketball rings installed at the site to widen the facility’s appeal.

If you’re ever in the area I suggest you stop by, as Billy-Jay O’Toole’s Indigenous artwork framing the court won’t disappoint.

The Woodlands Preschool in Ocean Grove is using its $30,430 grant from last year’s Community Infrastructure program for stage one of a rear play space redevelopment.

While the Clifton Springs Bowling Club is in line for a spruced-up clubhouse kitchen thanks to a $8,000 allocation.

Visit www.geelongaustralia.com.au/grants to see what’s on offer, as a successful application could make a world of difference.

Permit refused

There’s been a lot of talk about a planning permit application for a proposed five storey apartment building in Portarlington.

Thirteen apartments, two shops and a basement car park are proposed for 49 Newcombe Street, with the building’s maximum height reaching 14.3 metres above ground level.

This development would have the appearance of being three storeys from Newcombe Street because of the slope of the land, and five storeys from the parkland and pier to the north.

The City received 125 written objections and eight letters of support, with concerns focusing on the development’s height, the likely conflict with the township’s existing character and how viewlines might be impacted.

Objections also raised the building’s lack of environmentally sustainable design and the precedent it would set for future development.

Last month I sat on the Planning Committee that unanimously voted to recommend to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to refuse this permit.

We felt the community is justified in its concerns that the proposed building could change the character of Portarlington, which is what makes this seaside village such a special place to live.

This proposal well exceeds the recommended residential building heights for this site of two storeys.

This week, VCAT held a compulsory conference about the application, before a case hearing from 30 August to 3 September.

Watch this space.


Various photos of Jim Mason
I acknowledge that the Land I work on, live on and play on is the Traditional Lands of the Wadawurrung People. I pay my respects and homage to Wadawurrung Elders, both past and present, to all Wadawurrung people and to all Australia's First Nation's people.