A PLAN to charge residents near the Maylands lakes an extra $4000 in rates has been axed by Bayswater councillors this week.
The ailing lakes are expensive to maintain and the council has budgeted about $1.25 million for improvements in the near future.
Bayswater council staff proposed charging the 313 residences near the lakes an extra $802 per year in rates, for the next five years, to pay for the work.
At Tuesday night’s council meeting, Kevin Hamersley from the Friends of Maylands Lakes implored councillors to scrap the idea.
“It is clearly evident that this item, discovered by residents at very late notice, has generated considerable anger, stress and anxiety, not only for the residents concerned, but also from those who reside in other wards of the city,” he said.
“The assumption that residents of the lakes estates should be responsible for the restoration costs is particularly galling”.
Mr Hamersley asked “Is the city oblivious to the fact that the lakes precinct is one of its major assets? That its parklands, playgrounds and cycle/walking paths are frequented by residents from across the entire metropolitan area? A major cycling, running and walking route runs the length of the lakes and is used by numerous clubs, visitors and commuters. People visiting Waterland and the Maylands boat ramp will often detour to the lakes precinct to stroll, picnic and take photographs.”
“Let’s not pretend that this project is improving residential amenity,” he said, pointing out there was an environmental and health-based impetus to fix the lakes because they were a “health hazard” from algae spores blowing around.
Ward councillor Elli Petersen-Pik agreed: “it’s not fair and not consistent for various reasons. The Maylands Lakes are currently accessible to the general public and enjoyed by many others including walkers and cyclists”.
He said it’s also a haven for animal life.
He pointed out residents there already pay high rates, which are based on how much rental income they could receive from their home, and they lived in a desirable spot beside the lakes.
Fellow ward councillor Catherine Ehrhardt said: “I’m very happy that a specified area rates will not be applied to the Peninsula Estate. The Maylands lakes are there to be enjoyed by everyone and our ratepayers deserve to be treated equally. If there was a time to do specified area rates it was back in 1998 when the lakes were completed, not 20 years later”.
Councillors also voted down Cr Petersen-Pik’s plan to charge extra rates to owners of vacant “eyesore” blocks. The plan was designed to encourage them to develop the blocks and ease the rates burden on the rest of the city.
Cr Ehrhardt said some blocks are owned by wealthy owners who are landbanking, and that double or triple rates wouldn’t force their hand.
She said at the other end of the scale there are others who can’t afford to develop blocks and the proposed plan would have been an impost.
by DAVID BELL