Verging on a vote

WITH two major platforms for her mayoral campaign, current Melville councillor Karen Wheatland knows one of her dreams for the city is likely to attract some controversy.

“I would like to see compulsory verge trees,” she says about ramping up the city’s Urban Forest Plan to combat climate change.

“I would like to see tree vegetation along the riverfront, and it may block out some of those people’s views, but it’s really important because it’s going to mitigate climate change.”

Cr Wheatland says focusing on the environment is a “no-brainer” given dire predictions about rising temperatures and the impact on urban areas.

• Melville mayoral candidate Karen Wheatland. Photo by Steve Grant

“I’m passionate about climate change and passionate about youth, and making sure we have a city that going to be liveable and affordable for young people in the future.”

Cr Wheatland says she’s one of a number of councillors keen to find a way to increase protection for trees on private land, with clearing for sub-divisions one of the biggest challenges for maintaining a canopy cover.

“I’ve recently been to the UK to meet family that I’ve never met before and I was blown away by the trees and the canopy over there.”

She’d like to see the green boulevards over there replicated in Melville like those in Applecross.

“It’s just so nice to walk down that street in summer, under the canopy of a tree, and then there the life that tree preserves; it adds to the biodiversity of the City of Melville which we need to protect.”

A consummate networker, Cr Wheatland says she’d use those skills to push for better community and sporting facilities, particularly in less affluent areas.

“I’ve achieved a lot over the last six years though talking to groups or talking to clubs or seeing a situation, and then talking to the directors and then putting a path in motion.

A commercial drone pilot, Cr Wheatland recalls taking one for a spin near Winnacott reserve back in 2017 and noticing how cracked its tennis courts and an old maze her kids learned to ride on had become.

“I put together this little package and I emailed the CEO and made an appointment to see the director.

“And I gave this pitch because I’d been down to South Freo and seen that amazing multi-user court down there.”

It led to a community engagement process she says is delivering yarning circles, skate parks and facilities in a number of parks.

“That’s one thing I’m really proud of, and I’d like to see more of that happen,” she said.

A staffer for Labor’s Bateman MP Kim Giddens, Cr Wheatland said she’d resign to be a full-time mayor if elected, but says being immersed in state politics wouldn’t necessarily be something she’ll be able to draw on heavily as she’s careful to silo her two roles.


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