A NEW policy requiring a 1.5 metre space between shop fronts and any on-street stands or signs across Baw Baw has been passed by councillors, but the new law does not meet standards recommended by the Australian Human Rights Commission.
Councillors unanimously approved the new footpath trading policy at last week’s council meeting, but the policy adopted was different to that recommended by council staff, who suggested a 1.8 metre gap.
The new policy was implemented in an attempt to improve compliance with non-compulsory sections of the commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act, but the act and the Australian Human Rights Commission advocate for a clear space of at least 1.8 metres wide.
On moving the amended policy, Warragul ward councillor Gerard Murphy said the reduction was due to the width of Baw Baw’s streets.
“I’ve actually measured the footpaths and have gone around the Drouin and Warragul CBDs, and there’s a lot of different sizes of footpaths,” Cr Murphy said.
“The reason for the 1.5 metres is there are a lot of areas that are just not big enough, and the 1.5 [metre width], some other councils have it.
“I think it’s something we have to work on with the business owners and make sure they do work together on it, and make sure we get it right from the start.”
Although some permanent street infrastructure presently placed within the new exclusion zone will not be moved, new developments and infrastructure will be required to comply with the 1.5 metre requirement.
Warragul ward councillor Joe Gauci said the width of footpaths outside Warragul and Drouin also had to be taken into account.
“Other places won’t have the practicality of getting these distances at the best of times,” Cr Gauci said.
Mayor Murray Cook said there was a balancing act between recommended distances and present council infrastructure.
“Overall I think it’s important to remember that this is working with existing things in place, which is difficult,” Cr Cook said.
“To make it work we just have to be flexible, but when we’re doing new works especially we have these guidelines in mind.”
Mount Worth ward councillor Peter Kostos was not present at the meeting and therefore did not participate in the vote or debate.
Click here to read the full recommendation by council staff. Please note this is different to the motion passed.
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