Labor has vowed to spend $2 million to protect and revitalise Stony Creek if it forms government after the May 18 election.
The popular waterway, which runs through Cruickshank Park in Yarraville, was devastated by chemical run-off from last year’s Tottenham warehouse fire.
Shadow Environment and Water Minister Tony Burke visited Stony Creek last Wednesday morning to announce the contaminated waterway has been selected as a priority project under the party’s $200 million Urban Rivers and Corridors Program.
Mr Burke said urban rivers have been historically mismanaged and it’s time to return them to their status as the home of biodiversity.
“We want rivers, creeks and wetlands like Stony Creek to be safe spaces for families, kids and school groups to visit and enjoy,” Mr Burke said.
“If elected one of things we will be doing will be putting aside $2 million for Stony Creek, which will be a huge down payment on making sure we continue the work and the state and the local government aren’t on their own… we want to be part of that effort in restoring Stony Creek.”
The $2 million will be used for protective works such as waste capture and to improve open space around the creek.
Works will be based on recommendations by a community reference group formed in the wake of the devastating fire impact.
Gellibrand MP Tim Watts said Stony Creek was “an urban oasis” before becoming heavily contaminated by chemical run-off following the August fire.
“All of that water flowing down the creek… came and cleaned out all the biodiversity here, destroyed everything all the way down to the West Gate Bridge,” he said.
“We’ve been running a community based campaign collecting signatures to show how much this creek means to us and the community is ready to take action.”
Mr Watts said work is needed to prevent the natural environment coming into conflict with the industrial and urban heritage of Melbourne’s west.
“Our local community groups, like The Friends of Stony Creek and Friends of Cruickshank Park, have played a big part in driving the preservation and rehabilitation of Stony Creek.
Friends of Cruickshank Park secretary Sue Vittori said Stony Creek has become the most polluted urban waterway in the country and government must take more steps to protect it from industry.
“Rehabilitating the creek is a very important thing, but it’s pointless if it just happens again and again and for thirty years it’s been happening again and again.”