By Derek Schlennstedt
The demolition of the former Montrose Maternal and Child Health Centre (MCHC) has been put on hold after Councillor Noel Cliff put forward an alternate recommendation at the 28 November council meeting.
The recommendation to demolish the building at 4 Leith Road, Montrose, to create more parking spaces was contested when Cr Cliff threw a self-described “spanner in the works,” and suggested that it instead be used as a site for social enterprises in the Yarra Ranges.
“I’d like to move that we defer this item tonight,” Cr Cliff said.
The alternative recommendation is that the space be utilised by social enterprises in the area.
One specific example that he selected was the use of the site by social enterprise Tasty Az, a local community social enterprise specialising in catering and hospitality services.
Though, what is unique about Tasty Az is that they offer young community members living with a disability support in the form of jobs, traineeships and work placements in the catering sector.
Unfortunately, Tasty Az can no longer stay at their 111 Mangans Road Lilydale building, and Councillor Cliff suggested that the empty building, due to be demolished, could be a good location for them to utilise.
“Julie from Tasty Az does truly wonderful things – but she’s got a problem, where she stays is going to be closed in the middle of next year, and she’s desperate for somewhere to go.
“I would like us to look at the feasibility of turning this facility into a kitchen for Tasty Az.”
“Today, I went down to the former centre, and I have to say it is a tremendous building – it’s got buses going to the trains, across the mountain through Olinda all that area and goes down to Croydon and Lilydale connecting with trains.
“The facility is really in good nick; I’m amazed it really is a well-looked after building. Julie won’t have massive problems setting up as a kitchen, but the most important thing is it will enable her to employ lots and lots of people with disabilities.”
The alternate recommendation put forward by Councillor Cliff was also supported by Councillor Tim Heenan, who urged other councillors to look inside their hearts and give it a chance.
“This has come out of left field tonight. I had no knowledge of Cr Cliff’s willingness to put in a completely different alternate recommendation to the one we had in relation to this item,” Cr Heenan said.
Nevertheless, I am aware of the predicament that this wonderful enterprise is in, and Able Bakehouse is in a similar space – they’ve been trying to find a brand-new space, too.”
“Councillors, I urge you to just search inside your hearts, to give this a little bit of a chance of being investigated.
“It’s not something we need to demolish straight away, and perhaps there could be some really exciting good to come out of this for those people less fortunate or people unable to find mainstream employment.”
The two options originally tabled in relation to the demolition including the demolition of the Maternal and Child Health Centre building and attached public amenities, while a second option retained the public amenities.
All councillors voted to defer the subject to complete a feasibility study in the possible use of the former MCHC building for community use as a social enterprise.