After months of arguing and negotiating with residents, Sunshine Coast Council today removed and destroyed the original fruit trees growing onto the verge in Buderim’s Urban Food Street.
Hitting the community garden initiative at its heart, the property affected belonged to the Urban Food Street founders, Caroline Kemp and Duncan McNaught.
The reason for the drastic removal: they failed to comply with Council’s demands to obtain a permit and extend their home and contents insurance to grow onto the verge.
Division seven councillor Ted Hungerford had been in negotiations with residents who grew onto the verge since November last year.
He had previously said residents had until April 3 to obtain the free permit and if not “council will come in and do it for them, and bill them for their trouble.”
That’s exactly what council did, issuing the property owners with a fine as well.
Residents were left shocked and distraught at how council could demolish a nationally recognised community initiative that has not only educated people on sustainable living, but also brought neighbours together.
Brian Lamb had four pawpaw trees on the McNaught property that were destroyed.
“I think the concept of a permit didn’t agree with some people,” he said.
“But I think it’s a complete overreaction and an insulting way for council to treat its ratepayers.”
John Cochrane has lived next door to the affected property for over 40 years, but his citrus trees weren’t part of the demolition because a few weeks ago he obtained the free permit and insurance cover.
He says he understands the need for safety and legality, but if that’s council’s real concern they’d be targeting other areas of Buderim with verge hazards as well.
“I think it’s a power play here because the trees went in without council permission and I think they’re just trying to assert their authority more than anything,” he says.
“It was a nice area and there was no need for these bullying tactics.”