Jeni McColl alongside the many signs she has created, some of which have been damaged. Pictures: Gera Kazakov

Signs of protest

July 13, 2023
Gera Kazakov

Published Echo News June 23, 2033

“I DIDN’T know what to do,” says Jeni McColl.
“What can I do to help stop this tip,” she said, before deciding to hand-paint protest signage against the proposed Allawuna tip in York.
Because of Mrs McColl, anyone who drives along Great Southern Highway would have seen the vibrant signage bringing opposition against the proposed landfill into focus.
For Mrs McColl and her husband Ian, the fight against the proposed landfill site is personal – they live right next to the proposed site.
But it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Mrs McColl and her signs, who said that originally the Shire of York was opposed to her signs being placed along the highway and around town.
But it was a minor hiccup for her, as she said after that she was inundated with calls from the community offering her solutions.
“We got a call from a fella somewhere out in the Wheatbelt, and he said, ‘if you put them on three hay-bales [the shire] can’t touch it,’ someone else said to put them on wheels and [the shire] can’t touch them,” she said.
And now the tables have turned, as the Shire of York is against the proposed site, even going so far as to lodge an appeal against the site to the Appeals Convenor.
“But now, the shire is against the rubbish tip and they’re for us, so they’ve supported us putting the signs out, and that is very important.
“They love the signs being put up,” she said.
Another issue for Mrs McColl and her signs is thieves. One of the first signs she put up was stolen, which had her favourite message on it: “Welcome to York, WA’s first inland town rubbish tip.”
“It was a beauty wasn’t it, it was highlighted everywhere, because it was so dramatic.
“That was a really good sign,” she said.
Mrs McColl is self-taught in the art of signwriting and said she didn’t let her inexperience stop her from making the signs.
“I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, but I had a good idea, because I’d done a bit in Alice Springs,” she said.
Avon Valley Residents Association Chair Keith Schekkerman said Jeni’s signs have played a crucial part in the public awareness campaign about the landfill.
“Her signs demand so much attention that they are stolen on a regular basis.
“Jeni is a talented graphic artist with skills she readily adapted into signwriting,” said Mr Schekkerman.

Appeals against Allawuna closed

THE appeals process against the proposed Allawuna landfill outside York has shut, with 133 appellants lodging a claim.
Appeals Convenor Emma Gaunt will now investigate the appeals on behalf of the minister for environment, and said “the investigation will include consulting with the appellants and seeking a response to the appeals from the Environmental Protection Authority and the proponent, Alkina Holdings.
“At the conclusion of the investigation, the Appeals Convernor will prepare a report for the minister providing advice on how the appeals can be resolved.
“A decision as to whether or not the proposal can be implemented is a separate decision taken by ministers after the appeals have been resolved,” she said.
When asked if the 133 appeals lodged was a record, Ms Gaunt said no.

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