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After 18 years, residents and Moreland Council still can’t agree on a public loo

Kieran Rooney, June 20, 2017 5:50PM Herald Sun

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A PUBLIC toilet that doesn’t even exist has been the centre of a long battle between Brunswick East residents and Moreland City Council.

A $100,000 loo was first proposed for Methven Park in 1999 and almost two decades later it is still just a plan on paper.

The council has spent time and money on public meetings and letterbox campaigns to spruik* the idea for the loos, including setting up a website for residents to vote between possible locations within the park.

But residents are not happy about the location and hosted a public rally protesting the loo in limbo*, drumming up more than 1000 signatures for a petition against the current plans.

The proposed area for the Methven Park public loo. Picture: supplied media_cameraThe proposed area for the Methven Park public loo. Picture: supplied

Community group Friends of Methven Park spokeswoman Erin Tibbitts said the current debate between the council and residents about the location of the loos had been going for the past two years.

“We reached a sort of crisis point last month when council started building the toilets in a location we had assumed wasn’t going ahead,” she said.

Ms Tibbitts said protecting what little open space they had was a big concern for residents.

“There’s a bit of a pressure cooker with development and sky rises and people needing more space so when it comes to public toilets those things come to a head,” she said.

Ms Tibbitts said the dispute had revealed problems with the way the council interacted with the community.

Public toilet in a park in the Melbourne CBD. Picture: Nicole Garmston media_cameraPublic toilet in a park in the Melbourne CBD. Picture: Nicole Garmston

“I think that’s why those issues come to the fore*, we feel we don’t have control now,” Ms Tibbitts said.

“From the conversations we had, we thought we were on the same page.

“Once this thing goes down it’s never going to be the same again, it has to be the right place at the right time.”

A spokesman for Moreland City Council said it was unusual for a project of this size to require so much community consultation*, but that the location of toilets in the small park was a highly controversial topic with residents.

Moreland Mayor Helen Davidson said the council would respect residents’ wishes.

Melbourne public toilet in 1973. Picture: supplied media_cameraMelbourne public toilet in 1973. Picture: supplied

“Moreland has a passionate community that likes to have a say about what happens in our city and demands to be heard. That’s who we are,” she said.

“But the democratic* process has to be respected and when we tally* up the votes from residents from this final consultation, Council will act on the will of the people.”

GLOSSARY

spruik: promote

in limbo: unsure

saga: long struggle

come to the fore: become obvious

consultation: conversation between parties

democratic: everyone gets to have a say and vote

tally: count

LISTEN TO TODAY’S STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES

Activity 1. Public loo debacle

After reading the article about the proposed toilet block for Methven Park in Brunswick East, answer the questions below in as much detail as possible.

See if you can use quotes from the article in your answers.

• How long has the public toilet proposal been in the planning stage for?

• Why are the residents of this Brunswick East park not happy with the plans for the toilets?

• How have council communicated with the local residents?

• What is the community group called that oppose the plans for these new toilets?

• Why is this such a controversial topic for the residents that live near and use the park?

• How do you think this dispute could be resolved?

Extension:
Outline ways in which the council and local residents can work together to get a resolution to this problem that both parties are happy with.

Time: Allow 25 minutes to complete this task.

Curriculum links: English

Activity 2. New loos

Design a public toilet block for Methven Park.

Try and make your design innovative, attractive and purposeful.

In your design consider the following:

• size

• number of toilets

• genders

• look of the toilet block

• where to locate it within the park

• how it will satisfy both residents and the council

Draw your design and label your sketch to address the points above.

Extension:

What are some new design features you could incorporate into your toilet block?
What about self-opening doors, self-cleaning or CCTV?

Time: Allow 45 minutes to complete this activity

Curriculum links: Design and Technologies, Critical and Creative Thinking

VCOP ACTIVITY

(Vocabulary, Connectives, Openers and Punctuation)

Banish said

There is a lot of speech being portrayed in this article.
Find all the speech and all the words used to describe how the person spoke.
Was said used or another word?

If said was used, see if you can up-level it to a more specific word, but keep the context of the article.
For example, it would be unlikely that the person whispered in the article.

Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity

Curriculum links: English, Big Write and VCOP


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