The Seymour Flood Levee project has been unanimously terminated by Mitchell Shire councillors in an additional council meeting last night.
Councillors voted to cease to pursue future planning, development and delivery of the levee and explore opportunities to reallocate already secured funding to alternative projects in the area.
Council officer will now prepare a report outlining the implications the decision will have on the Seymour Structure Plan which currently references the Flood Levee Project. The Structure Plan will be amended, and a report will be tabled at a future meeting.
Council’s decision comes after the Seymour Flood Levee – Future Directions Report 2020 was tabled. The report outlined safety, legal advice, costs, the possible impacts on economic stimulus within Seymour and impacts on future land use as well as taking into account community feedback.
Following an amendment by central ward councillor David Atkinson which recommended the exploration into funding reallocation, north ward councillor and Seymour resident Rhonda Sanderson moved the motion to end the project.
The project received an overwhelming lack of support from the community, with 84 per cent of respondents to a community survey were against the levee.
Cr Sanderson said from the outside, a levee might seem like a simple proposition and drew comparisons to other projects opposed by the community such as a bypass through Kilmore’s Monument Hill and removing Wallan’s Avenue of Honour for road widening.
“As councillors, we’ve received emails, phone calls, letters, petitions, and had meetings regarding this levee and we’re aware that the proposed levee is overwhelmingly not favoured by the Seymour community,” she said.
“People currently promoting the levee argue that the levee is needed for the economic development of the town. Specifically, they’re seeking the removal of flood overlays and the rezoning of flood-prone land for development.
“However, it’s obvious to anyone actually living here, that development has progressed despite the flood overlays and substantial development has occurred in the levee area since our last flood in 1974.
“Not one of the rezonings listed in the Seymour Structure Plan is dependent on the construction of a levee.
“Seymour’s most beautiful natural feature is its river, the Seymour community don’t support the levee and future development of the town is not dependent on the levee.”
South ward councillor Rob Eldridge said any economic benefits are outweighed by disadvantages and there are no social benefits to be seen.
“One of the things we do in terms of our planning is say we need to open up the river and this has the exact opposite effect,” he said.
“I love Seymour and spend a lot of time on the river and we need to leverage access to it, not stop access.”
Mitchell Shire Mayor David Lowe said council has been deliberating the decision for a number of months.
“Taking on a project of this size would have a number of financial and planning impacts on our community into the future and this would pose a number of challenges,” he said.
“We’ve remained focused on considering the future of Seymour in our decision making. Our community continues to grow and as such we have a number of risks to take into account with more people and more businesses moving into our community.”