Power play

05. 822NEWS

• Roy Gilbert doesn’t want locals to be forced to spend money on underground power. Photo by Matthew Dwyer

HOMEOWNERS may be required to shell out more than $8000 each for underground power around Moir, Brookman and Lake Streets.

Lake Street local Roy Gilbert opposes the underground power plan, fearing it could cost up to $10,000 per property given the way so many infrastructure projects run over budget.

He says most of the neighbours he’s spoke to would rather spend the money on improving their house or paying off their mortgage.

The major benefit of burying power lines is that street trees don’t have to be so brutally pruned: Streets are shadier and property prices rise by three per cent according to a 2011 study by the Australian National University.

But Dr Gilbert says while it’s a nice idea, it’s a “want” and not a “need”. Western Power covers just 25 per cent of the cost.

Vincent council originally planned to go ahead after an initial round of community consultation showed 73 per cent of those who’d responded were happy to pay.

But Dr Gilbert points out only half the community replied. He says there’s confusion about the scheme, and most of those who’d said yes didn’t want to pay it up front and instead wanted the long-term payment option. He’s done his own straw poll which shows most neighbours are opposed.

The council has now decided—at mayor John Carey’s suggestion—to do another round of consultation.

Mark Greenshields just wants the council to get on with the job.

He notes he was just one of the 29.2 per cent of voters who’d bothered to vote in the mayoral election (he backed Mr Carey).

“Nothing would get done if we left decisions to a vocal minority who justify recycling decisions based on poor community participation,” he wrote to councillors.

The mayor says he supports underground power—it was one of the big issues brought up while he was doorknocking—but he doesn’t want to enforce it on people who don’t want to pay.

Only Cr Julia Wilcox wanted to go ahead without another round of consultation. She said if people hadn’t responded on an issue that’ll cost them money, they were more likely to be okay with it than upset.


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