- Posted March 4, 2013 by
Small Town Continues Fight Against McDonalds
- sarahbrowngb, CNN iReport producer
I'm a Brit that lives in a small town in the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges, north-east of Melbourne. Colloquially known as "The Hills", it is known as the "lungs of Melbourne" and is almost entirely national park, dotted with small, idyllic villages. The area is a huge tourist draw for Victoria, being the home of some of the tallest trees in the world, the Mountain Ash, tree-fern gullies, the locally endangered Superb Lyrebird, many, many species of colourful parrots and other birds, as well as being the chosen residence of a great number of artists and musicians who are inspired by the local area.
I wanted to let you know about a grass roots community movement here in the Ranges that has been campaigning for 2 years to prevent the building of a 24-hour McDonalds drive-through in one of our small towns. This movement has been followed on national news here in Australia and has inspired many other such campaigns in other small towns threatened with the inappropriate placement of a McDonalds.
It's a great human interest and community based story, with messages of support being received from all over the world.
In summary: in early 2011 McDonalds applied to build a drive through on a busy junction, opposite a primary school, in a small village called Tecoma. The local residents set 1,300 objections to the Shire of Yarra Ranges Council and over 650 residents attended the council meeting to see the councillors, led by Cllr Samantha Dunn, unanimously reject the proposal in October 2011. McDonalds appealed to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) in August 2012 and a small army of supporters attended meetings with McDonalds QC to eloquently and professionally put their case across. In October VCAT came out in support of McDonalds, but the community have not been beaten:
- over 750 spontaneously got together to discuss the VCAT decision on site and together decided to build a beautiful community garden and later recorded the campaign anthem - The Ballad of Tecoma.
- they have conducted social media campaigns which have raised awareness and bought them support from all over the world;
- they conducted drive-thru protests ordering 'No Maccas in Tecoma' at local McDonalds;
- they have repeatedly tried to meet with McDonalds representatives and offered to conduct a community buy-back of the site, which McDonalds have refused;
- they have urged the Shire Council to appeal to the Supreme Court, but the costs were prohibitive and the motion was turned down;
- they have undertaken a survey which shows that almost 90% of the local population are against the proposed McDonalds. The survey with over 4,000 signatures was submitted to the State Parliament with the assistance of MP James Merlino;
- they have protested at McDonalds' HQ in Melbourne and sent hundreds of emails and other communications to McDonalds asking them to meet with both the community and they State Planning Minister, Matthew Guy;
- they arranged a meeting with Matthew Guy in which he supported them but advised the systems were not in place to allow him to overrule VCAT;
- they campaign has grown and is incredibly flexible - we now have local gnomes coming out in support and protesting at sites all over Melbourne, including the McDonalds HQ;
- they have a motion with the State Parliament to revise planning and zoning rules for areas such as this, as well as campaigning for a review of VCAT processes to ensure that they cannot in future ignore community objections;
- they held a community event and rally against McDonalds' presence in the Hills, which will took place on Sat 2nd March at noon and over 3,000 people attended. The rally will featured music from a number of local artists, many of whom contributed to a campaign CD which was launched on the day.
You can find out all you need from the Campaign homepage (http://www.burgeroff.org/) including a massive range of photographs taken by local community and professional photographers.
We want the whole world to know that it is possible to stand up to a large corporation when it ignores community objections and that they can never take away your voice.
Video copyright: Tim J Smith of ALLDAY Pictures