Tree management in Victoria Park

  • Project statusPark management policy adopted at Ordinary Council Meeting
  • Last updatedSeptember 2023
Victoria Park camping

A major storm in 2021 caused substantial damage to a number of trees in Victoria Park, Queenscliff. Victoria Park is much loved by residents, campers and visitors for its extensive canopy and natural spaces, and Council has committed to revegetating and restoring the park.

Storm damage

During a major storm in October 2021, a large number of the trees in Victoria Park were severely damaged by extreme winds. This damage caused many trees to lose limbs, suffer major structural faults, or fail completely. Since the storm, Council has been monitoring the health and safety of the trees, including hiring an independent arborist to assess each of the trees in the park.

Works on existing trees

Following allegations made to WorkSafe that Victoria Park was unsafe due to `damaged trees’, WorkSafe inspected the site in autumn 2022. During the inspection, WorkSafe requested a copy of the arborist reports prepared for Council in January 2022. Following the inspection and a review of the arborist reports, WorkSafe concluded that many of the trees posed a risk of failing, potentially injuring or killing people nearby. In response, WorkSafe issued Provisional Improvement Notice, or PIN, which required Council to complete remedial actions, including removing or pruning a number of trees on site as per the recommendations in the arborist reports.

To comply with the WorkSafe PIN, Council closed the park to public access and began completing the works recommended by the arborist in an updated report completed in June 2022. While Council sought a review of the WorkSafe PIN in an attempt to reduce the extent of works required, WorkSafe did not accept the arguments put by council officers and maintained their requirement for the PIN notice to be addressed and the trees managed as per the recommendations in the arborist report.

Planting new trees

Wherever trees must be removed for legal or safety reasons, we prioritise replacing them with newly-planted trees as soon as possible. Council is currently developing a policy for the management of Victoria Park, which includes a replanting plan to replace trees and shrubs that were lost due to storm damage. Because we know Victoria Park is special to many different people in our community, we're looking forward to hearing your ideas for the park's future as we develop this plan.

Council adopted a policy outlining future management of the park at August's Ordinary Meeting of Council. Council is currently undertaking cleaning, weeding and mulching in preparation for the Queen's Jubilee planting that the Friends of Victoria Park are beginning on 9 October.

Engaging Victorian Government agencies

While Council accepts WorkSafe's authority in managing tree works in Victoria Park, we want to ensure community expectations are better reflected in future tree management activities.

Council has written to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and to WorkSafe seeking an urgent meeting. Our goal is to better understand WorkSafe's expectations for tree management, consider the implications of WorkSafe's requirements on tree management practices broadly, and to create a framework for tree management that better reflects Council's and our community’s expectations.

We're confident a better framework would enable us to prioritise public safety while also retaining and protecting trees in the Borough.