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Eliza Hilmer, organizer of free beach yoga sessions at St Kilda beach in Melbourne, faces backlash from the City of Port Phillip Council after her popular Feel Good Flows classes attract large crowds.

Council’s Demand for Payment:

Despite offering the sessions for free and not generating profit, Hilmer is ordered by the council to pay $10,000, equivalent to $400 per session, due to the increasing popularity of her wellness program.

Community Outrage and Support:

Local residents express outrage over the council’s decision, branding it as “pathetic” and criticizing the imposition of fees on a community-focused initiative aimed at improving mental health.

Supporters rally behind Hilmer, urging her to persevere and not yield to the council’s demands.

Hilmer’s Response and Compliance:

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Hilmer emphasizes her commitment to abiding by regulations and obtaining necessary permits, including a personal trainer permit as initially requested by the council.

She highlights the positive impact of Feel Good Flows on mental well-being and stresses the importance of maintaining accessibility to public spaces for community activities.

Council’s Perspective and Proposed Solutions:

The council defends its decision, citing the need for adherence to licensing regulations and capacity limits to ensure fairness among businesses operating in public spaces.

Port Phillip Mayor Heather Cunsolo acknowledges the program’s popularity but underscores the necessity of compliance with licensing terms to maintain order and safety.

The council proposes alternative options such as hosting additional sessions on the foreshore or applying for event permits to accommodate larger gatherings.

Potential Resolution and Council Engagement:

Mayor Cunsolo expresses willingness to engage with Hilmer and address concerns through constructive dialogue, offering clarification on available options and potential resolutions to the dispute.

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