Protests Erupt over Moreland Trees

6 February 2020

Protesters were carried out by police at Moreland’s Gandolfo Gardens early yesterday morning as the Victorian Government’s Level Crossing Removal Project prepared to remove the park’s trees.

People watched as the trees, some believed to be 108-years-old, were felled by workers.

Construction for the Upfield line has already drawn controversy over the removal of the Munro Street signalling box and the lack of consultation with the local community.

“No one talked to us about what they’re going to do and how they want to do it,” said protester Jenny Diggens. “They just don’t care.”

According to Upfield Corridor Coalition member John Englart, the construction method and the location of the station means the loss of nearly all the trees.

“We would have preferred the station to be moved slightly south over Moreland Road, or even south of Moreland Road as the best outcome,” said Englart. “But even if they’d used a different construction methodology…it would have meant saving more trees.”

The park was first established by the Brunswick community in 1912 as a response to Brunswick’s growing population, according to protester Susan Davies.

“They wanted a space where people could come and relax – a green area,” said Davies. “And all of the trees in this park were carefully selected for their biodiversity so they‘d have the greatest benefit to the animals, the people and the environment.”

Her grandfather, local bus driver Perce Haley, helped establish the park.

“My grandfather made the park, now his granddaughter’s here to watch it be destroyed,” said Davies.

Moreland Council released a statement yesterday requesting the cessation of the tree removal, saying that “many in the community are feeling distressed and devastated about the removal of the trees”.

“Council supports the removal of level crossings but is disappointed that the government has repeatedly ignored requests from Council and the community to find alternative solutions that would save the trees,” they said.

The work to remove the four level crossings on the Upfield line will create 2.5 kilometres of open space, according to Victorian Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Jacinta Allan.

“We promised to slash congestion and make these communities safer by removing these level crossings – we’re doing that, and creating kilometres of new parklands and open space at the same time,” said Allan in August 2019.

Construction for the new stations is planned to start later this year.

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