On Monday, Melissa Smrecnik, Jane Street Community Garden coordinator, was shocked when told that, with just four weeks’ notice and, she says, with no proper consultation, Brisbane City Council will be laying a storm-water tunnel through the centre of the garden.

Ms Smrecnik said the route of the tunnel works will take in the large archway and the central social and workshop meeting place.

She reported on Facebook:

“They say everything remaining in their path is going to landfill including our shed, social structure, our large entrance archway, garden beds, rich organic soil we made on site, at least 100 different varieties of edible and medicinal species, a 15 year old ice-cream bean tree and Moringa tree, possum boxes (for which possums reside in), native bee hives, and the list goes on – not to mention 18 years of community stories, work and love that has been put into this place!”

Ms Smrecnik told The Westender that Jane Street Garden is much loved in West End.

“We have 600 signed up members, 800 residents and eight cafes that participate in our community composting, and 300 attendees per year who attend our workshops,” she said.

Ms Smrecnik said she is disappointed that Council is not taking into consideration the environmental, social and cultural impacts of the tunnel works.

 “This is very devastating news,” Ms Smrecnik said, adding that the Garden does not yet have a clear understanding about whether council is going to remediate the damage caused by the works.

“It’s disappointing that the Council does not see it as important to consult with the community…,” Ms Smrecnik said.

Jane Street Community Garden, which is supported by Micah Projects, is working with local Councillor Jonathan Sri to seek clarification of the following three issues Ms Smrecnik said:

  • why Council has chosen an excavation trench as opposed to tunnel-boring, finding an alternative route, or using shoring plates to minimise damage to the garden.
  • how Council is going to remediate the site and compensate for the damage; and
  • a more suitable timeframe for starting construction rather than just 4 weeks-notice.

In a Facebook post, Cr Sri said that the works are part of the planned Davies Park upgrade:

“But what BCC didn’t tell residents at any stage of the consultation process was that they were planning to run the underground drainage pipe right through the middle of Jane St Community Garden.

“What frustrates me is the lack of openness and transparency from council. Instead of keeping the community in the loop and explaining why this is the only option, the council has tried to keep it a secret until after the construction tender was allocated and work is about to start,” Cr Sri wrote.

Ms Smrecnik says she has already received many expressions of support from community members, and both she and Cr Sri are calling on residents to email the Lord Mayor, asking him to publish detailed answers to the questions they are putting to Council.

Ms Smrecnik is also encouraging people to join the Facebook  group here: Jane Street Community Garden Volunteers to receive updates.

If you want to know more, Jane Street Garden is holding a Let’s Take Action meeting on Saturday the 19th of October at the gardens from 9.00am.

Blue line shows the route of the tunnel – image provided by Cr Sri on Facebook