By Mitchell Clarke
Statistics from a Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) report has indicated the townships of Bunyip and Garfield are set for a population boom, with a forecasted 10,000 people set to flock to the small towns by 2036.
Closer in, the suburbs of Beaconsfield and Officer will feel the squeeze when the population will increase by 3.6 percent, from 13,612 to 49,252 people.
But the statistics are of concern to some Bunyip residents, who already feel that Cardinia Shire Council is “forever ignoring the outer towns” and focusing on the booming suburbs of Officer and Pakenham.
“They could not care less about the country towns and have said it to people’s face in town when they meet to discuss wanting to get things done,” one Bunyip resident said.
“It’s always the same answers, ‘we don’t have any money, you’re not a priority and we have Pakenham and Officer to worry about’.”
Making particular reference to the state of the roads, the resident took to a Facebook community noticeboard to vent her frustrations, questioning what their rates went towards.
“We have to clean out our own open cut drains, our roads are pathetic – all except that court that is sealed regularly and looked after because a councillor lives there, otherwise we don’t see you much,” she said.
“All they’d need to do is send the grader once a month or six weeks to do the roads and they would stay in good shape but they leave them months and ignore the complaints.
“Residents write emails, call, fill out the form online and nothing happens, nothing changes.”
She claims that even when a road is sealed, it’s not done properly which means potholes continuously appear.
“I’m happy to live on my dirt road, we chose to, that’s fine, but when our kids safety is compromised because council prefer to build nice, big new council buildings regularly, instead of looking after our town and the towns around us, it’s past old, sort your stuff out.”
Council said they understood that sometimes residents living or travelling on unsealed roads can get frustrated with the condition of the road.
“Unsealed roads are heavily impacted by weather, drainage, speed limits, road gradient, traffic volumes and driving behaviour,” general manager infrastructure and environment Peter Benazic said.
“Weather in particular can cause rapid deterioration of significant parts of the network at the same time, and while council tries to address all issues as quickly as possible, it does take some time to rectify defects when they are widespread.
“As a shire with a mix of rural and metropolitan areas and a growing population and road network, there is ever-increasing pressure to keep the road network in shape. This is why we recently dedicated $25 million to our Strategic Sealed Roads Project.”
But residents claim the council make an appearance, does one road and then leaves.
“The issue is all they do is fluff up the top layer of road and it’s just dirt, so it just sinks back into the previous holes within a week,” the resident said.
“If they actually inspected the roads a week later they would understand why we are all so angry about it.”
The Gazette understands a number of roads in Bunyip were graded in September with a grader working in the area every week of the month.
Locals have reported that Riverside Avenue was one of the roads which recently received attention but it’s believed potholes are again forming.
Cardinia Shire Council maintains 863kms of unsealed roads and 670kms of sealed roads across the shire, investing more than $6.5 million annually in maintaining local unsealed roads.
Works to refurbish Doran Road and Thomas Street have now concluded.
“The unsealed road maintenance schedule is carefully prepared according to the current conditions and forecasts, which are based on road service and performance history data,” Mr Benazic said.
“Roads that are used more often are graded more, and those roads that have fewer cars are graded less often.”
Meanwhile, the full length of Evans Road in Bunyip will be sealed under the Strategic Sealed Roads Project.
Shire residents are able to check the fortnightly maintenance schedule by visiting https://www.cardinia.vic.gov.au/roadmaintenanceschedule.