A loser in the 2020 ACT elections?
Chris Steel is currently a Labor-elected member for Murrumbidgee and happens to be the Minister for Something within the ACT Labor/Greens coalition government.
Chris Steel is currently a Labor-elected member for Murrumbidgee and happens to be the Minister for Something within the ACT Labor/Greens coalition government.
It’s an interesting exercise to commission a friend to draw a cartoon of the three people (two politicians and one bureaucrat) who are largely responsible for Canberra’s planning and development.
There’s a brochure in circulation about the debate on the future of the green spaces and foreshore along Lake Burley Griffin’s West Basin.
On World Environment Day, June 5, the Canberra Liberals committed to planting one million trees over the next decade if they form government following the October 17 ACT election.
With the ACT election now just over two months away, Chief Minister Andrew Barr would be urging his colleagues not to remind the electorate of the infamous Dickson land swap.
A Regular theme for my column is the spin that dominates the city’s planning and development.
Stephen Bartos, chair of social housing provider Common Ground, said his organisation wasn’t involved in the planning processes around the planned Dickson site and certainly didn’t want to be, when he spoke to “CityNews” on June 3.
Here’s praise for an ACT politician. The accolade goes to the Greens’ Caroline Le Couteur for her work in chairing (from 2016) the Legislative Assembly committee on planning and urban renewal and the release of the April report – “The Inquiry into Engagement with the Development Application Process in the ACT”.
Canberra’s community representatives struggle to find positive things to say about the ACT’s planning directorate. Most have seen too much bad stuff going down.
How candidates perform in the electorate of Murrumbidgee is going to be a focus in the October 17 ACT election.
On the last day of April, the Inner South Canberra Community Council (ISCCC) issued a media release advocating the importance of streetscapes, open spaces and trees.
Residents are often taken aback by the culture of disrespect for locals that has become firmly embedded within the ACT’s political and bureaucratic ranks.
In November, Juliet Ramsay of the Lake Burley Griffin Guardians presented a paper to the Australian ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites).
It’s not often that the community sector gets stunned completely by an ACT government development announcement.
In late 2019 the ACT government proposed to vary the plan for the Gungahlin town centre. It didn’t take long for the Gungahlin Community Council to spot the devil in the detail – or to be more accurate – what detail went missing.
After any neighbourhood auction, the conversations usually follow a similar line: will the property be occupied and the garden maintained or will it be up for demolition for yet another large, grey box with the established greenery taken away as rubble?
As the ACT’s state of COVID-19 emergency gets tougher, people look to those in authority that they should be able to rely on – those they want to trust.
The Chief Minister Andrew Barr and his Labor/Greens government have made it clear that their view of Canberra’s future is different from that of the city’s residents and those that cherish its place in the world as Australia’s bush capital.
When the ACT government announced in February that it was funding the ACT planning review to the tune of $1.2 million there was not much dancing in the streets.
Before the 2016 ACT elections the Labor Party indicated that it was to make changes to how planning and development happened.
When the government slipped through the unique variations to the rules for south-east corner of section 72 Dickson, all the local government members, including Green/Labor member Shane Rattenbury, signed off on this most inappropriate action by the planning minister.
In centuries past when a colonial power arrived somewhere foreign (to them), they presumed that they knew how to improve the local culture and commenced with handing around beads and trinkets.
Woden Valley Community Council (WVCC) meetings have commenced the year 2020 with priority themes that are much the same as in 2019.
A tree came down earlier this week in Dickson (above).
Looking at the trees nearby, it will not be long before more of these trees meet a similar fate.
Previously I reported that there remains a looooong list of dubious matters involved with the proposed building of a Common Ground apartment complex on Section 72 Dickson. These date back to the infamous Dickson land swap.
Because what you do next – today and tomorrow, and every day after that, Counts
So make it count
The year begins with yet another event around Dickson section 72 (Dickson parklands) involving ACT Housing Minister Yvette Berry doing her best to upset and alienate the voters within the inner north, just in time for the 2020 elections.
The Singapore government of the ’70s, led by Lee Kuan Yew, was hell-bent on building a modern and prosperous city/state. It took a close relative to point out that if he wanted tourists to visit, then he needed to stop bulldozing the old stuff.
Taking the time to observe the many birds in our garden provides a complete distraction from the more serious matters of life.
Well, at least this is what it should be.
Is there a more significant way of celebrating Christmas than with a tree?
Yes, with lots of trees! How about a suburb of trees? This is what the Yarralumla Residents Association is doing for Christmas this year.
It’s Christmas! A time to be jolly.
A Christmas tree is such a positive symbol. No matter how crazy or plain, Christmas trees, like the real ones, bring joy. And we could do with a lot more fun in life.
The Yarralumla Residents Association (YRA) is 32 years old.
The association was formed because of the first proposals to redevelop the Brickworks site on the western edge of the suburb.
Into the inner-north letterboxes has appeared a pamphlet from one of our local members, the ACT Greens’ Shane Rattenbury. There will be more from others given the October 2020 ACT elections.
The problem with the Greens’ pamphlet was the spin. The heading read “Putting our climate first”.
Late in 2018 the Weston Creek Community Council held a public forum for fire experts to provide information about fires in the 21st century. It was really scary stuff.
Canberra has an enviable reputation as a designed and planned city.
Unfortunately, the shine has come off this accolade over the last decades.
Another example of when the ACT Greens proved to be a disappointment – A Collective Fizzer
Here’s an issue now being looked at in the inner north – and no-one has yet to work out what happened.
It was announced on Wednesday (October 23) that the government is reviewing the ACT’s Tree Protection Act. Good news! Maybe.
The devil is in the detail and we are talking about a government that we have learnt not to trust.
The ACT government is hoping to plonk Common Ground onto Section 72 in Dickson and is asking for feedback on the concept design for the building and site design.
As happens regularly across Canberra, developers have a set style in their presentation to community groups.
Bureaucracies can be so out of touch with reality. Not for the first time there are serious questions around decisions being made about the fate of trees in the suburbs of Canberra.
The catalyst for this piece starts with a sad story in Holder where a resident is being driven crazy by decisions about the obvious need to remove an inappropriate tree next to his house.
Here’s a tale of the use of alternative facts by both the government and a couple of its supporters.
After almost a decade of residents saying very clearly what their preferred options were for a precious community site within Dickson in the inner north of Canberra (Dickson Parklands) , residents have been told that Yvette Berry, Minister for social housing (housing clearances mostly) is to announce that her wonderful deaf government is to build on this community site. Click here for the opinion piece published in City News.
for another instance of Yvette Berry’s talent – click here – being dismissive about the urgent and long over due needs for sports, community and cultural facilities in Woden.
Good journalism is welcomed and embraced. Journalism that is written to promote bad decisions by government must be called out. Here’s an example of the latter. The author, Tom Greenwell, starts well by making some points about Walter Burley Griffin’s planning for Canberra. But then he commits the crime of using Griffin’s name and visions to justify some outrageous developments being planned by the ACT Government (Urban Renewal Authority again!) that will destroy a wonderful part of the foreshore of Lake Burley Griffin. Click here for the article in City News.
and for more about West Basin alternative facts – click here; includes letters from Richard Johnstone of kingston – a supporter of West Basin developments.
And for more on the arguments against what Tom Greenwell has written – click here for a very well informed piece by Penny Moyes, one of the Lake Burley Griffin Guardians.
When developers eye off ACT Government green spaces – the trend in Canberra is that those developers get to buy that land and the people lose yet another piece of precious community open space. This is happening with land behind the Kippax shops in west Belconnen in Canberra.The local Labor member is Yvette Berry and she loves to show up with a shovel to be photographed when community land and green spaces are being removed from the public ownership. Click here for the opinion piece in City News.
Two stories about a meeting at the Woden Community Council meeting in late July. The first is about an ACT Minister, Rachel Stephen-Smith, addressing the audience and apparently not having an understanding of the depth of anger about the lack of facilities in this centre – despite the enormous growth in apartments. The second involved the ACT Government’s planning bureaucracy’s mishandling of a small green space within the suburb of O’Malley. Both performances were astonishingly terrible – sort of funny if it was not about people’s lives. Click here for the opinion piece in City News.
Some stories about planning in Canberra are simply unbelievable. This is one of those and involves the National Capital Authority not doing its job.
oh what a planning mess – complete with strange deals and ACT Government games and incompetence. Click here for the story in City News.
How sad! Yet another glossy ACT Government planning document that is a waste of time and effort – click here for my piece on this CRAPP in City News
The Watson Community Association recently conducted consultations to produce the community’s own visionary plan for their suburb. Click here for the piece in City News
The bush capital is under threat from the ACT Government – it’s about trees
There’s misleading information being used to justify apartment developments on West Basin. It is overdue for all our local politicians to get involved. more on this from my opinion piece in City News – click here.
and for a later article on this — click here
There’s a long saga at play in Dickson in Canberra. Here’s the latest on this – click here.
and there’s more..
a story of a Christian School corporation, their use of public lands and significant trees being removed. Here’s a link to my opinion piece in City News.
A large plane tree, wedged between buildings on the cinema site in Manuka, has almost achieved celebrity status. click here for the story in City News
The ACT Greens/Labor coalition government has a host of ministers who are making a mess of the planning and development of Canberra’s urban environments. The question asked by the community sectors is where do the ACT Liberals stand on these planning issues. Click here for my piece in City News on this topic.
With the Christmas release of the draft City and Gateway Urban Design Framework, the ACT Government’s City Renewal Authority undertook media advocacy during February for an apartment suburb on West Basin. The ACT Government continues with its proposal for West Basin against the opposition of the Canberra community – click here.
THE people of Canberra love our trees and when one is threatened unnecessarily, people do whatever they can to save it. Here’s a tale about a significant tree, the ACT’s chief planner, the developer and – the tree’s future. Here’s my piece in City News on this.
The ACT government’s decisions on trees are often contradictory and not in the context of long-term strategies for the bush capital. It continues to make a mess of the legacy it inherited.
There are so many stories around how the ACT Government handles significant trees and so many people who have had bad experiences because of the bureaucratic stupidity.
Click here for my piece in City News on this – these are just a few of those stories.
The ACT Government has a bad reputation in its dealings with residents and their concerns for the future of Canberra.
I have written about this topic in City News – here’s my piece – click here.
The Conversation has an article recommending a change to planning to deal realistically with urban biodiversity.
It came as a shock to hear a community leader class a community site as a wasteland.
First an update on the 2016-2017 ACAT appeal about the proposal to remove the carpark in front of Woolworths and to build an apartment and supermarket complex.
I have just spent three weeks in Singapore.
Someone needs to ask the ACT Planning Minister why the planning directorate continues to encourage local residents to form residents’ associations to oppose inappropriate developments.
Surprising things can happen when you are involved in advocacy with the ACT Government on urban environment issues.
About the architecture along Northbourne Avenue
Two things to consider: One is that heritage is about to be celebrated here in Canberra with a festival from 18 April till 7 May 2017.
Braddon is cool – well not quite yet
Braddon should be cool. I said something similar two years ago.
There’s a call by the ACT Government for residents to go online and to offer thoughts on the future of Haig Park.
2017 in Canberra began with announcements that so many new buildings are about to change the city’s landscape.
I believe in good government. I believe that many of our public sector employees do a great job. Occasionally, I even witness a politician who has values and fights for them (rarely).
Local governments rarely get the opportunity to completely makeover and enhance the main entry to the city – and the city centre itself.
Here’s a few links on current research and commentary on green spaces, our cities and health.
The Queensland state government spent millions on the Roma Street Parklands. This parkland was set to add huge value to any apartments built around its edges. One would have thought that the City would have insisted on at least some higher levels of design for such buildings. Continue reading Roma Street Parkland, Brisbane, Part Two
I first visited these gardens and parklands back in 2004 and was very impressed then. This parkland project was a major commitment by the then state government to re-develop a former industrial site and to join it to the existing Albert Park to form one larger parkland, the Roma Street Parklands. I highly recommend anyone and everyone visiting Brisbane to allocate at least an hour to wander about these parklands ten minutes or more away from the Brisbane CBD. (click on any image to enlarge it)
I refer to a former post (click here) in which I provided commentary about trees in several local location.
One key story was, and remains, the special lines of trees on the eastern and western entrances to Braidwood, in southern New South Wales.
This is a proposal to enhance some present green infrastructure within inner north Canberra.
The North Canberra Greenway could be formed by linking and then enhancing the present green infrastructure elements throughout inner north Canberra.
Australia has a very mixed understanding and relationship with wetlands. I happen to be fortunate to live close to one. This came into existence just a couple of years ago when the local government transformed a disused and degraded parkland into a wetland attached to an old style concrete drain.
and yes, we should be looking after them.
During times of heat, drought, and extreme temperatures, it really demonstrates how the planning of Canberra, ‘the garden city’, was based on serious misunderstandings.
click on any photograph to enlarge it
Beware politicians and designers: We love our Lawns
In a previous post I had spoken of Australia’s love of the lawn. (click here)
In particular I mentioned a local battle over Green Square at the Kingston Shops in Canberra whereby the local government had replaced a green square of lawn with a designed space, complete with brick walls and seating and drought friendly, low maintenance plants.
Lindsay Prior Arboretum, Canberra
If you have not already read it elsewhere on this blog, I love trees. Our home is now immersed in shrubbery. Ever morning we awake to sounds of all the bird life that enjoy our the biodiversity in the garden in our street. The front has been planted and designed in such a way that when we sit on the front verandah and look in a northerly direction, all we see are trees and shrubs. There homes and cars in that direction, but they a blocked out so that it looks as though we look out on a private parkland. But despite our private parkland and that a wetland is five minutes away, we do venture out occasionally to see what others are doing with trees. Occasionally!
The community engagement on proposals to shift the Kings Highway Trees near Braidwood NSW
A Case Study where full Community Engagement was required but not employed.
The following opinion piece discusses an overlooked opportunity for real Community Engagement in dealing with the issues around the memorial avenue of trees leading into Braidwood on the Kings Highway from both sides of the township.
with photographs by Gael Newton
It has been while watching the episodes of that wonderful program (on DVD), Montalbano, that the beauty of the Sicilian cities has been revealed. They are just fabulously charming. (see footnotes)
These are very Mediterranean city scenes with off white buildings, tight streets and plenty of lanes and hill-side stairs.
What is missing are the trees. There are the few decorative ones and those on the surrounding hills. But for one brought up with the luxury of lush street trees, green front yards (lawns) and sidewalks, these streets and lanes are very devoid of greenery.
Beautiful – but bare.
Dealing with the complex issues of climate change adaptation should by now have become a priority and part of the everyday for any local government in their oversight of design, planning, development and the re-development of our settlements.
Here in Canberra we have been the subject of a decade or two of pronouncements from newly appointed chief planners on how they are to oversee development that is sustainable and .. lots of other spin that always sounds so sensible!
National Botanic Gardens , Canberra
The recently opened Red Centre at the National Botanic Gardens is an ‘interesting’ addition to this very popular and valuable national asset.
The basics of a proposal for rethinking this important piece of Green Infrastructure
The main road into Canberra from the north has been the topic of much debate following the ACT Government’s announcement that it is build a light rail with the route being from Civic to the newer suburbs of Gungahlin. In the wings sits the developer lobby as this transport initiative would provide the final green light for the major intensification of the commercial and residential buildings along the full length of Northbourne Ave
Trees are important in our urban environments. They are part of our urban green infrastructure and perform important roles assisting in health and well-being as well as climate change adaptation.
And they are just beautiful. I like trees.
There has been a bit of noise of late around the proposals that the ACT Government is to introduce a light rail system into Canberra. In the first instance the rail will connect the inner north and the newer northern suburbs through to Civic, the main CBD area.
The light rail should have been there at least 20 years ago. It will be an interesting problem to make it viable now. Some form of transit system is required but so much of the infrastructure around it will need to be also altered. The city was built for cars. Many issues to be worked through. For instance ….
City of Trees, National Library of Australia, Canberra, 5 July – 7 October 2013
This review originally published August 2013
One lazy Saturday afternoon I took myself over to the National Library of Australia. I had read all the advertising and was very much looking forward to an exhibition on the trees of Canberra.
Any exhibition that focused on the trees of Canberra has to be something to see, something to talk about, and something that would be most embraced.
In short, this one did none of those things for this reviewer. This exhibition in this prestigious national library exhibition space just left me wondering just what happened. Did the exhibition curators sign up a feel good Centenary Exhibition about one of the core features of the national capital; its fabulous trees. And then the pieces arrived and there was nothing to do but to make a good show of it. In this case it has been well laid out with all the usual fine aesthetics of good curatorship. But the content is just not there.
originally published May 2013
If you had not heard, Canberra is celebrating 100 years. Right now the city is in the advance stages of winter, with all signs being that it will arrive seriously on our leafy door steps this time next week.
This is one of the pleasures of being up here on this hinterland and in the middle of the countryside where someone about 100 years ago thought it wise the plonk the national capital. Because of the location, we get to experience the full gamut of the changing seasons. And right now it is getting cold. Continue reading The Art of Trees