HUNDREDS turned up in Tecoma yesterday with plants and shovels in hand for a protest with a difference.
Locals arranged a community gardening event to speak out against the Victorian and Civil Administrative Tribunal’s decision last Wednesday to approve fast-food giant McDonald’s application to build a new restaurant in the town.
The previously vacant block of land on Burwood Highway, earmarked for the new McDonald’s, was transformed into a community garden, replete with scarecrows, prayer flags and sculptures.
Davey Heller, one of the Facebook organisers of the protest, said the day was a ‘‘raging success’’ with some protesters remaining at the site until 8pm.
‘‘People really threw themselves into reclaiming that space,’’ he said.
Yarra Ranges Council knocked back McDonald’s original application last year, following strong community opposition.
A spokeswoman for McDonald’s, Skye Oxenham, said that while the company was sensitive to the community’s views, it believed the presence of its restaurant would have a positive impact on the area.
‘‘McDonald’s and our local franchisees have a lot to offer, and are proud to contribute to the local community everywhere we operate,’’ she said.
Ms Oxenham refuted claims by objectors that a restaurant on the site would cause a traffic bottleneck on the Burwood Highway.
‘‘In this instance the findings have highlighted that traffic will not be significantly impacted. Current peak periods of traffic in the area do not overlap with peak dining hours at McDonald’s,’’ she said.
Davey Heller said further protest action was planned.
‘‘This is just the opening shot of the next campaign,’’ he said.
Lyster Ward councillor Samantha Dunn said she had requested the council’s legal team to see if there were any avenues to challenge the decision in the Supreme Court of Victoria, but added that this could only be done on a question of law and not disagreement.