IN a unanimous decision the Shire of Mundaring has voted to waive the rate payments for those affected by last month’s Parkerville bushfire.
On Tuesday, January 23, at its ordinary council meeting a motion was put to council that the shire waive the rates and waste service charges for the four properties significantly damaged by the Parkerville bushfire and allow a concession on those rates from December 21, 2023, to June 30, 2024. This was estimated at $6190.
The motion also included waiving any shire fees relating to planning approvals, building permits, demolition permits and septic tank licences for the properties.
Councillor Doug Jeans made a point that the rebuilding process will take much longer than six months and discussion then arose around extending the concession.
The council agreed that when budget considerations were to be made for the next financial year, extending the concession for the families will be a priority.
Georgia Bolden and her partner Mark Norton are one of these families. They lost their home and all their belongings in a matter of minutes on the morning of December 21 last year.
In a life-threatening scenario Mr Norton was deftly able to hitch his caravan and exit the property just as the flames spread over its boundary.
“It was part of our fire plan, so if there is smoke or an impending fire the first thing we do is get the van out,” Ms Bolden said.
“By the time the fire was here I knew the house was going to go because the wind was blowing 40km this way and everything the other way was on fire, so it was just a matter of time,” Mr Norton said.
The couple now intend to repurpose their garage, the only structure to remain unscathed, into a living space while they plan their next move.
“People contacted us originally offering things. But, at first you can’t accept anything because there’s nowhere to put it,” he said.
They said they’re incredibly grateful for the huge amount of help and support they have received from the community, including government relief funds, and donations of food, clothing, and toiletries.
“We are getting bits of relief and help from all different places which is amazing because it really is helping us,” Ms Bolden said.
Family, friends, and strangers even raised more than $15,000 for the couple on the GoFundMe platform.
“It sounds like it’s a lot of money but it’s not really when you’re starting from nothing and working up again,” Ms Bolden said.
“Buying food, bedding, pillows, clothes, it’s all those little things that add up.”
"You can get bitter but that doesn’t help. You have to progress, or you go backwards. We’re alright, we’re healthy, and we have each other,” Mr Norton said.
“We don’t know what’s going to come next. And that’s okay,” he added.
They were also thankful for the work the firefighters and emergency services did in controlling the fire.
“Support your fireys, to get this fire out without destroying Parkerville was a miracle. Don’t know they did it.
“Have a fire plan that you can exercise in a couple of minutes because you might not have much longer,” he said.