Path off-limits

The path in happier, less dangerous times. Photo by City of Perth.

A RIVERSIDE footpath at JH Abrahams Reserve will stay fenced off for more than a year as Perth council waits on state approvals and funding to fix severe erosion.

In January the council fenced the area off after investigations found erosion along the entire 423m of riverwall had undermined the footpath’s structural integrity.

The reserve’s just south of UWA and Perth council inherited it from Subiaco as part of a July 2016 boundary changes. One month before the handover Subiaco received an engineer’s report warning them the wall was suffering from the river bed being eroded and predicting it’d cost about $2 million in maintenance over the next 25 years, ahead of an “eventual retreat”. 

Works on river walls need approval from two state government departments (both planning and biodiversity departments) due to environmental concerns and the river being a heritage site.

The council’s applied for a biodiversity department grant to subsidise the costs and they’ll know the outcome by November, but working around tides and weather, the fixes might not be done until May 2021. 

The spot’s named for Joseph Abrahams who was Subiaco mayor for 25 years from 1949 to 1974.

Costly catch

It’s been a costly handover for Perth, having already given Subiaco a $500,000 “ex gratia” payment to settle who had rights to the reserve land.

The family trust that donated the land to Subiaco included the condition that it be used “for the use and enjoyment of all time, of all persons within the municipality of Subiaco”.  Perth having the land was in breach of that trust, so it proposed a “joint trust” with Subiaco back in 2017.

Subi was still miffed about the boundary change and sent a $500,000 invoice to Perth to cover transition costs such as staff redundancies. 

Perth binned the invoice, but got backed into a corner when Subi pressed the issue as a condition of negotiating the trust.

Eventually local government minister David Templemen had to step in and Perth agreed to pay the $500,000 transfer in December 2017.

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