Residents horrified as Sunshine Coast Council chops, mulches trees in Urban Food Street

Residents on a street with chopped down trees in the background.
NOTE; Welcome to Australia 1984 where it’s now illegal to grow fruit trees in community streets without Draconian council permits. This will soon come into play for all food grown in backyards with many simple fruits & veggies becoming illegal.

The Sunshine Coast Council has unapologetically chopped down and mulched 18 fruit trees on verges in Buderim within the hugely popular Urban Food Street (UFS) precinct.

The precinct has organically grown over the past seven years to span 11 streets in the leafy suburb, where produce grown on the verges is consumed by more than 200 people.

The area has been at the centre of a six-month stoush with the council after a complaint was made.

The council then ordered residents to obtain public liability insurance and a free permit in order to keep the trees on the footpaths.

The trees felled this morning were on the footpath of three properties where the resident had not obtained a permit.

Residents have told the ABC they were unaware of the work being done until council trucks and mulchers entered the precinct early this morning.

Chris White, a chef and resident within the UFS precinct, phoned ABC Sunshine Coast on Wednesday morning as he stood at the stumps of what were until this morning fully-laden fruit trees.

“It’s a way now that they can put a concrete footpath in and it’s a show of force,” he said.

Produce from the trees was grown for and consumed by the local community.

Mr White said destroying the trees was devastating for residents.

“I think it’s the kids that are going to be impacted greatest here because they’ve nurtured these trees, and now they’re not here.”

Through tears Mr White said fruit from one tree had been saved, only due to the quick thinking of one of the residents.

“She climbed inside the tree so that they couldn’t cut it down,” he said.

“We didn’t have enough people on the ground to save the trees and they wouldn’t allow us to get the fruit.”

Mr White said the street looked “barren” after the council trucks and mulchers had moved through the area.

Looking down the street showing stumps where fruit trees once were

‘Disappointing and avoidable’, council says

Councillor Ted Hungerford said the felling of the trees was disappointing, but the council was left with no option after a resident had not applied for a permit, nor opted to relocate the trees to private property.

He said the requirement for a free permit and public liability insurance applied throughout the region, and so far 23 residents had fulfilled those requirements.

Another 10 residents had removed or relocated the trees to private property.

Cr Hungerford said this morning’s actions came after many months of negotiations, and the landholder for the three properties had also been issued with $609 infringement notices for each property.

Another four properties have compliance notices due in June.

Mourning the loss and ‘waste’

Woman stands on kerbside with stump behind her.

 

Resident Gail Felgenhauer said the council was belligerent, bullying and discriminatory.

“We’ve had multiple meetings and presented multiple options and ideas for solving their imagined problems,” she said.

“They have discriminated against food.

“We have grown food here to share with the elderly in the area, with couples and families, and we’ve grown this for seven years.

“And all of a sudden the council tries to bully us into getting permits and then there were difficulties with insurance.

“Our position was that there were ornamentals [on verges] all over the Sunshine Coast area, so why discriminate against vegetables and fruit?”

Ms Felgenhaur said the citrus fruit from the felled trees would have been enough to provide about 12 months worth of jam for residents.

“And there was a dozen or more paw paws, beautiful paw paws … that lovely resident over there who has a physical disability, he ate the paw paws regularly,” she said.

“It’s just such waste.”

Man writes a message on a blackboard which is located on the kerbside

 

Alison Foley does not live in the UFS area but walks her children through the precinct regularly.

“It’s the future of our environment, it’s an education source, it’s a demonstration of what communities can do in a sustainable, collaborative and educational way,” she said.

Resident Lisa Edward said the produce was picked regularly and united the neighbourhood.

“Why would the council chop down trees that produce what we eat?” she said.

“They were 1.2 metres back from the road. There’s no danger.

“All our kids ride their bikes up the road and walk through the trees. It’s more good and healthy than dangerous.”

‘Internationally significant’ project

The ABC's Costa Georgiadis meets with locals on the Sunshine Coast

 

ABC gardening personality Costa Geordiadis has previously told the ABC that the UFS concept was “internationally significant” and that the council’s requirement for residents to obtain public liability insurance for verge gardens was buck-passing.

“There’s very little there that is dangerous,” he said.

“That’s where we have to draw the line between common sense and a legal filter that just goes beyond what is fair and practical.”

Queensland One Nation leader and Member for Buderim, Steve Dickson, said the council’s action was wrong in every sense of the word.

“This is renowned throughout the whole world, people love this, the local community loves this,” he said.

“What message is this sending to our children?

“Not to mention if it’s all about safety, there’s big stumps hanging out of the ground, so when somebody walks along there and trips over those stumps, who’s wrong then?

Street map showing the range of produce grown in the urban food street precinct.

 

“Seriously, nobody has thought this through.”

Mr Dickson questioned the council’s motivation, adding that where the felled trees were actually left “plenty of room to walk” along the footpath.

Where to now?

The council said properties where the resident did not have a permit or insurance in place faced the same outcome.

Mr White has five citrus trees on his footpath and currently has no permit because there was no guarantee residents would not be charged in the future.

“Why is food the reason you have to get a permit when people can grow ornamentals and rock walls wherever they want and not get a permit? That’s the issue,” he said.

“They said if I don’t go through the correct channels that’s what will happen [trees will be cut down] and I’ll get a $600 fine.”

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-31/urban-food-street-trees-culled-sunshine-coast/8576700

4 thoughts on “Residents horrified as Sunshine Coast Council chops, mulches trees in Urban Food Street

  1. What we the residents of municipalities need to do is –

    Send the council a bill for the DAMAGE that the trees they plant in the streets cause.

    PLEASE GOOGLE – tree root damage – images – & see what happens when the Municipal Council – plants an INAPPROPRIATE TREE out side your house.

    Gum trees have a nasty habit of dropping their branches in summer – to bad if it is on your car & even worse if you are in the car when the branch drops.
    I am not saying – “do not plant trees” –
    I am saying “PLANT TREES RESPONSIBLY”

    The Municipal Council plant trees that will grow to massive heights UNDER POWER LINES – in my street the trees are RUBBING UP AGAINST THE POWER LINES.

    Several TREES which have been MUTILATED to grow around the over head power lines have very large & heavy branches – WITH NO SUPPORT – hanging precariously over the road way – a heavy rain on a stormy day & the branches are prone to dropping.

    Trees planted along TRAIN LINES – with roots growing UNDER THE TRAIN LINES are an accident waiting to happen & who knows how many $100.000’s in repairs.

    The men who come to PRUNE the trees have no idea what they are doing & allow branches to become TOP HEAVY – very dangerous.
    I WATCHED A VIDEO WHERE PROFESSIONALS SHOWED HOW TO & HOW NOT TO PRUNE A TREE.

    All this irresponsible & dangerous tree planting on behalf of the Municipal Councils –
    IS PAID FOR WITH OUR RATES.

    AND SO ARE THE REPAIRS TO THE ROADS & FOOTPATHS …
    The Municipal Councils are FAST & LOOSE WITH – O.P.M. – Other Peoples Money.
    Our Money.

    1. A few years ago I received a – NASTY – letter from “THE POWER / ELECTRICITY SUPPLY COMPANY”

      “your tree is too close to the overhead power line on your property – do something about it OR ELSE”

      A small branch was about 1/2 a meter away from the power line to my house & growing up – no threat to the power line in any was – we removed the tree.

      The Street Trees actually rub against the overhead wires that run up & down the street – I wrote to my Local State Member of Parliament – to express my concerns – since then the council crew have come around to FURTHER MUTILATE these very trees & the same branches still rub against the wires.

      1. Where did the Municipal Councils get the idea that they were A LAW UNTO THEMSELVES – that they were THE UNTOUCHABLE FORCE / the rule of law over the rate payers of Australia.

        Where did the Municipal Councils get the idea that they could ride roughs hot over the citizens of Australia – over the rate payers who pay their LUCRATIVE SALARY’S.

        The Municipal Councils exist – only to serve their constituents & keep order & nothing more.

        We need official government auditors to go into these councils & look to see how money is spent / where money is spent AND HOW MUCH DEBT THE Municipal Councils are carrying – because it looks like they have money to burn – the way it is thrown around.

  2. Funny Story – TRUE STORY.

    Hard rubbish collection – “SCAVENGERS WILL BE PROSECUTED IF CAUGHT” –

    So I sent an email to my local council –
    It costs a lot of money & valuable space at the tip.
    Scavenging is ACTUALLY recycling & I think that the council should reconsider.
    I am prepared to look the other way.

    The relevant officer in charge of Hard Wast Collection replied – saying that the Hard Waste that was picked up by the collectors was RECYCLED.
    The metals were separated from the rest of the hard waste & RECYCLED.
    How I asked – (?) – (?) – (?) .
    I have watched the crew collecting the hard waste in action – they just pick everything up & throw it into the truck & then the truck squashes everything to make more room.

    The Officer Responsible For Hard Waste Collection REPLIED – “when the hard waste is in the truck – MECHANISMS IN THE BACK OF THE TRUCK – SEPARATE THE METALS FROM THE REST OF THE HARD WASTE.

    They have the Seven Dwarfs in the back of the truck.

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