By Kyra Gillespie
Renewed calls for a safe pedestrian crossing on Windermere Boulevard has put the heat on local MP’s and council, who have been playing hot potato with its installation for a number of years.
A small protest group gathered alongside the busy thoroughfare on Thursday 16 August with hand-painted signs which read: “Help us to be safe in our community, we all need a crossing.”
Organiser Tamika Hicks, who works at Cardinia Lakes Early Learning Centre, said a crossing needs to be implemented before the opening of Pakenham Primary School in 2019.
“Our childcare centre currently had 101 families at the moment and we are only half full,” Ms Hicks said.
“Soon we’ll have over 200 families at our centre alone, so that’s not including the new school that’s about to open.
“Our staff and families constantly use the shopping centre, which means crossing this dangerous road.
“By the time the school opens up and the buses come it’s too late to stop all that traffic and construct a crossing. We shouldn’t have to go to such lengths for community safety, this needs to happen now.”
A mother who attended the protest with her child, said there was “no way” she would ever risk crossing the street with her two year old.
Pakenham Primary School will accommodate 475 students from Prep to Year 6, bringing hundreds more families to the area.
Calls for a pedestrian crossing were first made by residents back in 2016.
Two years later, with nothing done, David Roberts re-ignited the push for the crossing by accruing over 600 signatures to council and over 80 council submissions for the crossing to be included in the 2018-’19 budget.
The request was denied by council, who say the notorious road did not make the cut to council’s top ten pedestrian crossing priority.
According to council’s list, crossings at sites such as Main Street Pakenham, Kilvington Drive in Emerald and Moody Street in Kooweerup fare higher than the bothersome boulevard.
Gembrook MP Brad Battin, who attended on the day of the protest, vowed to “campaign to council” about the project.
“VicRoads can do as many counts as they want, but at the end of the day council has the power to deliver it,” he said.
“I will speak to council and campaign for the crossing.”
However the waters of responsibility were again muddied, with Cardinia Shire Mayor Collin Ross handballing the onus right back to the State Government and VicRoads.
“Council sees this site as a definite concern and is something that is high up in our priority list,” he said.
“Unfortunately we need to get the authority from other parties before we can make it happen. It’s a really frustrating process, but we can’t build it on a whim.
“We will pass it on and keep on pushing, and in the meantime it’s good to see the community out and petition for things they are passionate about.”