A MAJORITY of Kingston councillors want a section of Beach Rd to be narrowed to build the Mentone to Mordialloc part of the Bay Trail.
The Kingston leg of the shared pathway for cyclists and walkers stretching from Altona to Frankston has been dogged by controversy over the removal of foreshore vegetation to build the Bay Trail.
The Kingston Residents Association, the Mordialloc-Beaumaris Conservation League and the Kingston Conservation & Environment Coalition lost a joint VCAT case in April 2015 against council that argued the removal of foreshore vegetation was “excessive”.
Council then built the 3-metre wide pathway between Charman Rd and the Mentone Lifesaving Club.
At the latest full public council meeting on 27 March, a 5-4 majority of councillors voted to push ahead with a plan to narrow Beach Rd between the lifesaving club and Peter Scullin Reserve in Mordialloc from 14 metres on average to about 13 metres to build the final Kingston leg of the trail.
A ‘Do Not Narrow Beach Road’ Facebook group, founded by Beach Rd residents Robyn and Gavin Nolan, is rallying support online and by flyer drops to letterboxes to oppose council plans to ask VicRoads to narrow Beach Rd.
About 40 car parking spaces would be removed if the section of Beach Rd is narrowed.
Debate at the council meeting was heated amid angry exchanges between councillors.
Cr West said the narrowing of the road between Mentone and Mordialloc would bring the width into line with Beach Rd’s width elsewhere.
“We are proposing to narrow the traffic lanes to VicRoads standard,” she said.
“There will still be two traffic lanes each way … it will pose no safety concerns for cyclists, pedestrians or motorists.”
Cr West said the narrowing of Beach Rd would protect “a stretch of remnant sand heathland that dates back to before white settlement”.
Cr Geoff Gledhill said safety, especially for cyclists, is a concern on Beach Rd.
“Organisations like the Amy Gillett Foundation are flat out trying to get ‘a metre matters’ adopted nationwide to increase the degree of separation between cars and bikes,” he said.
Cr Gledhill said Cr West “doesn’t understand” how decreasing car parking spaces will negatively impact the area.
“She doesn’t live in the ward. This is a very dangerous plan.”
Crs Tamara Barth, David Eden, Georgina Oxley, Steve Staikos and West voted to proceed with the proposal to narrow Beach Rd.
Crs Tamsin Bearsley, Ron Brownlees, Gledhill and George Hua opposed the plan.
An attempt by Crs Bearsley, Brownlees and Gledhill to rescind the proposal was voted down at a special meeting on Monday 3 April.