By Colin MacGillivray
A MOVE to rezone land adjacent to Kilmore Racing Club has raised questions about its status as Kilmore’s bushfire place of last resort.
Bushfire places of last resort, formerly known as neighbourhood safer places, are areas that provide a last-resort refuge for people in the case of an extreme bushfire.
They do not provide a physical structure to shelter in, but are intended to provide a break between people and the flames, reducing radiant heat experienced to survivable levels.
Mitchell Shire Council established a bushfire place of last resort at Wandong Plaza in December.
A block of land at 15-35 East Street currently serves as Kilmore’s bushfire place of last resort and is occasionally used as overflow parking for Kilmore Racing Club.
The club has applied to have the land rezoned from public use to residential – a move some Kilmore residents objected to last year.
Former councillor Bob Humm wrote to the Review in December questioning what would happen to the land’s status as a bushfire place of last resort.
“I’m not aware of any other spots in Kilmore for this use and have asked our Mayor Bill Chisholm to investigate if any other opportunities are available in Kilmore,” he said.
Council chief executive Brett Luxford confirmed a new bushfire place of last resort would need to be established if the land was rezoned to residential.
“The site was designated in 2015. There is currently a planning scheme amendment which proposes to rezone the land to residential use. Submissions have been referred to an independent planning panel,” he said.
“If the rezoning proceeds, an alternative safer place will be needed.
“If the land changes ownership, any existing arrangements to use the site as a … bushfire place of last resort would need to be reviewed.
“Bushfire places of last resort are important when personal fire safety plans fail.
“Council is exploring options for an alternative site and the Kilmore community will be involved with discussions about any changes if they are needed in the future.”