Residents and council discuss support for verge gardens
  • Wednesday 12 July 2017

An informal meeting between the Sunshine Coast Mayor, councillors, council staff and Buderim community gardeners has provided an opportunity to start an initial discussion on all aspects of the approach to managing the authorisation of verge gardens.

Mayor Mark Jamieson said the meeting held on Friday (July 7) was “very productive”, with residents presenting the benefits they had personally experienced as a result of their community verge gardens and outlining the views of Buderim residents in relation to current arrangements.

“It was a wide ranging and convivial discussion where the residents put forward their ideas and council outlined the rationale behind the current authorisation arrangements which are based predominantly on safeguarding the interests of our residents,” Mayor Jamieson said.

“Importantly there was an acceptance that council’s guidelines are very generous in terms of the plantings that have been permitted, compared to those of other councils.

“In fact, there was a recognition by the residents that, in some respects, these may need to be revisited in the interests of public safety and focussing more on lower height plantings including dwarf varieties of certain fruit trees so their children and grandchildren can safely and more easily pick the fruit.”

Mayor Jamieson said the council outlined the reasons why a free permit was required and the rationale for the insurance requirements.

“At the heart of our requirement for the resident to hold legal liability insurance cover for their activities on the verge is council’s desire to safeguard the interests of residents who could face substantial legal and financial exposure if a person were injured and the injury was directly attributable to the resident’s verge garden,” Mayor Jamieson said.

“Our residents made it clear however, that the insurance requirement is the issue that is the most problematic and concerning for some residents.

Councillors and I were interested to hear the residents’ concerns in relation to their efforts to secure insurance cover.

“As a result of our meeting, we all recognised that the insurance arrangements can be a complex matter and there is an undertaking to work with the residents on the issues raised and identify possible solutions.

“At the end of the day, much of what lies at the heart of an issue such as managing verge gardens is a strong degree of community self-regulation – the willingness of the community to take responsibility for what is and isn’t appropriate in terms of plantings and coverage of the verge.

“I was pleased to sense a strong interest in the residents we met with in taking this responsibility.”

Divisional councillor Ted Hungerford emphasised that the council had always been supportive of verge gardens, and council and the residents were in agreement that there were many benefits the community enjoyed thanks to this project.

“Insurance is a concern and council wants the verge gardens to be safe,” Cr Hungerford said.

“I look forward to the verge garden project continuing in a safe manner so everyone – the gardeners and the general community – can enjoy living here.”