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Yarraville locals take on Maribyrnong council over proposed stadium on McIvor reserve

Written by Javed Iqbal

“We don’t have much space, we don’t have much tree cover. That’s where our canopy is. If you go there, that’s where all the birds live. That’s where all the shade is,” she said.

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Liby said the council’s stadium strategy indicated the facility could have as many as six pitches and 320 parking spaces. She said a stadium that size would take up about 14,000 square meters of space, roughly the size of 30 blocks of flats.

“So much of the park would be gone. And there’s really just not a lot of parkland left there,” she said.

The council has said an indoor stadium at McIvor Reserve was only “an idea, not a proposal” and it was gathering feedback from people who use the park before making further decisions.

At a council meeting this week, Maribyrnong City chief executive Celia Haddock said no decision had been made on the stadium’s design or location.

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“I reiterate that no decision has been made on the McIvor Reserve. Council is simply exploring it as a possibility,” she said.

However, Liby said she believed there was more going on behind the scenes than the council was willing to reveal.

She highlighted resistance to plans for Melbourne Victory to build a football academy at Footscray Park and the Yarraville “Arab Spring” parking meter saga as other examples of poor consultation by the council.

“They’re not high school students cramming for an exam who want to pull it out at the last minute,” she said.

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“They’re not transparent about so many things, which leaves the community with very little confidence that they’re coming with us about what’s really going on.”

Barbara Hart, who has lived in a house overlooking the park for 16 years, said she was concerned.

“Why don’t they look at disused industrial sites in the area? There are many of them, and the municipality could consider buying that kind of land,” she said.

“We all recognize that there needs to be more basketball and netball courts, but not at the expense of green spaces.”

Another resident, Kylie Michel, said the COVID-19 lockdowns had shown the importance of having open space close to where you live.

She said the western suburbs were often identified as an area with a lack of tree cover and green space.

“It’s such a beautiful place, but we know that once it’s taken away, it can be lost forever,” she said.

An online community forum to discuss the McIvor Reserve masterplan will be hosted by Maribyrnong City Council on August 8.

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Javed Iqbal

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