Saturday, 19 September 2020
Chamber of Commerce and BOSS react to decision to cut down Boonah trees

Call for Council-community meeting

Aspects of the Boonah Town Centre Precinct Development Stage Two have concerned many residents.  

The removal of a number of mature trees to be replaced with shade cloth, low level gardens and one tree does not sound an appropriate alternative to what we have, if in fact any alternative is necessary. 

The lack of consultation regarding such a major change to the High Street streetscape is very disturbing.  

We call on Council to meet with local community groups such as the Boonah Chamber of Commerce, the Boonah Organisation for a Sustainable Shire and other interest groups to discuss a more agreeable way forward.  

— Julie Jackson, Secretary, 

Boonah Organisation for 

a Sustainable Shire

Council (non) consultation

The Boonah District Chamber of Commerce represents the businesses in Boonah, including those in the CBD of High Street. 

The Chamber has become aware that Scenic Rim Regional Council (SRRC) plans to remove four established trees on the eastern side of High Street, where they provide much appreciated shade during the hot summer months and replace one with a Golden Penda (Xanthostemon chrysanthus), the one outside Glen’s Diner with a larger shade sail structure and the remaining two tree removals will be replaced with low level garden beds. 

A copy of the flyover which is available on Council’s website shows trees that are not included in this representation. The removal of the trees is to be part of the current work associated with the Vibrant & Active Towns (Boonah) works.

SRRC have stated that the decision was made following consultation with affected businesses, but the Chamber, representing those businesses, has not been consulted and advice from ‘affected’ businesses is that they were told that the trees are to be removed. 

SRRC does not recognise that the community is affected as well, and they have not been consulted either. The SRRC did consult when the original plans by consultant John Mongard were released, but changed them after that consultation process of which the community participated.

The trees are being removed as they were found to be an invasive plant - the Evergreen Ash (Fraxinus griffithii) by an independent arborist. SRRC Council will be replacing one tree with a larger shade sail structure (shadecloth) outside Glens Diner and the most southern tree will be replaced with a Golden Penda (Xanthostemon chrysanthus). The remaining two tree removals will be replaced with low level garden beds. While these trees may be invasive in creek beds or on open land, they pose no indicated issues in their current location surrounded by footpath and roadway.

On the basis of this reasoning, one must wonder when SRRC are going to remove the Jacaranda mimosifolia that is regarded as an invasive species in Southern Queensland that draws visitors to Boonah in spring to look at the vibrant showing of the classic purple flower flush.

In March 2018, following the completion of Stage 1 of the Vibrant & Active Towns Project, the Chamber wrote to Mayor Christensen to “ask that Council again consider the Chamber as partners when it comes to decisions on minor, significant and major changes to the business district – particularly in relation to plant selection of the street, gardens and furniture.”

The response from Mayor Christensen was: There are many specific interest groups within our community that are also deeply interested. As the elected representatives, Council has an obligation to ensure it considers the whole community’s interests in our deliberations and decisions. This often means that we cannot satisfy every perspective.

I therefore cannot accede to the chamber’s request, which seems to suggest that Council cannot take any action – large or small – within the Boonah precinct without consulting with the Chamber. This is not a model that could be sustainable across the region as there are multiple Chambers of Commerce and Council could equally expect similar requests from each Chamber as well as from other community stakeholder groups. This would create an excessive and unrealistic bureaucratic overlay to the efficient delivery of service.

These words seem to support our concern about the lack of consultation by SRRC with the businesses through their industry association, The Boonah District Chamber of Commerce, of which most are members.

One wonders why arborists were consulted about these trees and the reason could be found in these words: as electrical and new irrigation needs to be installed prior to replanting. Does one assume that the arborist may have been consulted to find a way to accommodate this work with minimal inconvenience rather than find a more acceptable way to achieve the work?

The BDCC and member businesses present the Boonah Christmas Street Festival each year and in 2018 the Christmas Street Festival Committee, with the support of community members, produced bunting which was hung along High Street to decorate the business district to look like Christmas. 

In 2019, the trees were decorated as well with input from community groups who took ‘ownership’ of their tree. This year, the Chamber, understanding that this Christmas may not include all of the festivities that we have enjoyed previously due to Covid-19, still want the community to feel the Joy of Christmas, and work has been underway to extend the bunting and tree ‘yarn bombing’ through Church, High, Park, Railway Streets, and Mitre 10 in Yeates Ave, and again permission has been requested (as a courtesy) from SRRC to undertake this as well.

We are very concerned about the total lack of consultation with our businesses, community groups and the wider community by SRRC as demonstrated here.

— Bruce Trevena, President, 

Boonah District Chamber 

of Commerce