Canberra Urbanity

 Canberra’s Champs-Elysees? Get Real!

The redevelopment of Canberra’s Constitution Avenue has been long in coming and the ACT Government has today announced its plans for the next stage.

Unfortunately someone has bravely announced that it will be Canberra’s Avenue des Champs-Élysées. Does that mean there will be an equivalent of the Arc de triomphe, the avenue is to be lined with large international expensive shops, huge crowds day and night, massive amounts of traffic (four lanes each side) and a host of ever-present scammers and pick-pockets.

I suggest our planners need to put this  cultural cringe stupidity aside and to call this redevelopment for what it is, and not link it to something it can not be in our life times.

The Avenue des Champs-Élysées has its own complex history and is a place you must visit when in Paris. Once. It is not a place you need to return to. You must experience the madness of the traffic around the Arc, as there is no way to explain what you will witness. The Champs-Elysees itself is a massively large and beautiful boulevard that is full of overpriced shops. For people watchers, go elsewhere and sit and observe the real inner Paris. The Champs-Elysees is on its own as a significant piece of international urban landscape.

We must also remember that Haussmann designed these wide boulevards for a very political reason. They were specifically designed to allow for the easy movement of the army when it was required to put down unruly citizens. Is there a connection to Canberra given that the federal government is about to start to sack locally employed Commonwealth Public Servant? Riots maybe predicted in the enar future and will the army be required?

As for Constitution Avenue, I suspect the reality is that we are about to enjoy some major upgrade of this very boring part of town. And about time. I suggest we will see more of what we have seen along the eastern section whereby there has been the same sort of upgrading. Although the eastern section’s future redevelopments will be limited given the massive presence of the ASIO building and its security fencing.

And while they are at it, could someone do something about the atrocity known as the Canberra National Convention Centre.

So in relation to the upgrade of Constitution Avenue,  let’s celebrate what should be the enhancing of this asset so that it delivers more as green infrastructure, that is hopefully it is being re-designed to deliver climate change adaptation measures; but does not deliver major haven for pick pockets!

If more of a reality check is required, I am happy to be paid to travel to Paris to collect the necessary comparative evidence.

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