Wodonga councillor Ron Mildren slams third version of hills blueprint as "inadequate and unsuitable"

Not good enough: Wodonga councillor Ron Mildren has blasted the city's draft hill strategy as "lacking in real long term forward thinking".
Not good enough: Wodonga councillor Ron Mildren has blasted the city's draft hill strategy as "lacking in real long term forward thinking".

TOWN planner turned councillor Ron Mildren has blasted Wodonga’s latest draft hills plan as “a lost opportunity and lacking in real long term thinking”.

“To me this strategy represents missed opportunity, predetermined agendas and environmental irresponsibility,” Cr Mildren told a full gallery at Monday night’s council meeting.

He said the plan tried “to be all things to all people and is consequently full of contradictions and ambiguity”.

Cr Mildren said it limited mountain biking growth by failing to provide for a “very significant cycling facility” and acknowledging environmental impediments around Hunchback Hill.

He also criticised it for encouraging non-local traffic into residential areas.

“I see this document as being inadequate and unsuitable even as a stepping off point for future review and modification,” Cr Mildren said.

Cr Libby Hall also voiced her concerns and voted against the adoption of the draft.

She said it lacked detail, particular on fire risks and liability and did not address the need for a dedicated mountain biking area.

The five other councillors, mayor Anna Speedie and John Watson, Danny Lowe, Kat Bennett and Tim Quilty backed the plan.

The community now has until September 22 to comment, with the council to vote on a final plan at its October meeting.

Cr Speedie urged people to “respectfully and genuinely have their say” and stated “making this document the best document that it can be is my No.1 priority.” 

Cr Quilty said the draft was far from perfect particularly as it “doesn’t get to the heart of the dispute – mountain bikes versus walking”.

“I haven’t come out with a position on the great dispute yet because I’m yet to come to a final conclusion.

“I’m not a passionate environmentalist….I don’t really care about the rare flowers.

“I do think the hills should be open to the public to use….but I’m certainly not in favour of spending loads of ratepayers’ money on new tracks, trails and facilities.”