It has become apparent that MCMC needs to prepare a 3-5 year strategy plan.
The Merri Creek and Environs Strategy developed by the Merri Creek Concept Plan Steering Committee sets priorities for management of the Creek by the range of government agencies involved and MCMC. Although Melbourne Water was heavily involved in the the development of the Merri Creek and Environs Strategy, particularly the water quality section, it now considers this section of the strategy will be superceded by the the Merri Creek Waterway Activity Plan which it is now preparing.
However in terms of where MCMC wants to be in 3 or 5 years time, and what it wants to be doing and to have achieved, there is no one clear place where this is documented and agreed to by members. Such a strategic plan, with various themes associated with it such as a habitat restoration and monitoring is in preparation.
There is potential for using already developed waterway quality measures to measure medium to long-term success, however a significant cost is involved in collecting the data, and when this possibility has been raised with MCMC's stakeholders they preferred to see their money spent on on-the-ground works.
Merri Creek and Environs Strategy
From the start MCMC's objectives included the preparation of a concept plan for the Merri Creek. In 1992 preparation of the Merri Creek Concept Plan commenced with the setting up of a steering committee for the project comprising agency and community representatives. A community workshop was held in which residents and agency representatives views were sought and the beginnings of an agreed vision for the Merri Creek was developed. A number of gaps in knowledge of the Merri Creek were identified, and in 1993 studies were commissioned to fill these gaps. A strategy was developed and after much debate in the steering committee regarding a few controversial issues (primarily relating to the proposed F2 freeway, and conservation of grasslands) a copy of the strategy went to the Minister's office for signing in late 1994. Two and a half years later, after much lobbying to get the strategy signed, it popped back out of the Ministers office with the suggestion that it needed updating. The steering committee was reconvened, and after Melbourne Water said it had identified that some minor review was needed, it commenced to completely re-write the document, leading to around a year's additional delay. Finally in 1999 the concept plan was published as the Merri Creek and Environs Strategy.
The vision for the Creek developed through the Concept Plan/Environs Strategy process is:
"To achieve a healthy living stream flowing through an attractive environment which provides habitat for native animals and is valued by the community as a peaceful, passive open space haven. To protect the natural and cultural features of the Merri Creek corridor though sensitive management which will provide a lasting benefit for the community." (From the Merri Creek and Environs Strategy)
The strategy sets goals for the Merri Creek Corridor, and then in four sections (Land, Water, Community and Management) discusses the background, identifies issues and objectives and an action program for the Creek, with accountable agencies, MCMC coordination required, overall notional cost and priority identified. These action tables have been transferred to a database by MCMC, and through the Merri Creek and Environs Strategy Implementation Subcommittee, progress on actions has been recorded and actions updated as necessary.
In 2002 Melbourne Water commenced the preparation of a Waterway Activity Plan, outside of the Merri Creek and Environs Strategy structure, as its own plan of activities along the Creek.
The Merri Creek and Environs Strategy is currently being revised by the Merri Creek and Environs Strategy Implementation Subcommittee.
Merri Creek Plan
Whilst the Merri Creek and Environs Strategy includes maps of specific actions, it does not map open spaces along the Creek and identify for each of them a management intent. The Merri Creek Plan is a set of maps which identify for all areas of open space along the Creek whether the intention is to manage the land for habitat restoration, conservation parkland, sporting, or informal recreation in a semi-natural setting. The plan is in draft form at present.
Views of stakeholders are sought periodically as a formal part of the Manager's Annual Staff Review Procedure. A form is sent to all stakeholder representatives and the results collated.