Rhetoric alone is not climate action
Once upon a time, Canberra tourism included views of tree-lined suburban streets. That was Canberra as we knew it – a city in a landscape. The ambience was greenery and open spaces.
Once upon a time, Canberra tourism included views of tree-lined suburban streets. That was Canberra as we knew it – a city in a landscape. The ambience was greenery and open spaces.
With Canberra being a “city in a landscape”, why does the ACT government not understand the value of landscape and open spaces?
Proposal to answer queries – a follow up piece
More on Bill Pye Park Ainslie and the YWCA
An article was published this week about the proposed building of social housing on a site now leased by the YWCA on the corner of the block that is largely Bill Pye Park in Ainslie.
When the ACT government announced it had approved the development application by the YWCA to build social housing on the corner of Bill Pye Park in Ainslie*, there was a collective sigh of frustration from residents.
For the ACT’s Labor/Greens coalition politicians, planning is not something they worry about much despite it being something of major concern to residents.
The ACT Government’s planning directorate has an impenetrable structure that reminds me of the “Star Wars” concept – the Borg Hive – called The Collective.
A pamphlet arrived in Dickson letterboxes that won’t bring much joy to the other areas of the city. It announced that $3 million is to be spent on Woolley Street, Dickson.
When the Watson Community Association (WCA) puts forward the community’s views about a proposed development, it does a really thorough job.
Having been in government for four months, Rebecca Vassarotti, ACT Minister for the Environment and Heritage, should now have a firm view on heritage and comprehend that her role is about being a leader in the stewardship of Canberra’s environments.
Think back to 2015 when Chief Minister Andrew Barr had to back down on a mess of land dealings locally known as the Manuka Land Swap.
The residents of Canberra love this city because of the trees. There are numerous occasions when people have had to rally to save our trees.
Several community associations have had presentations about an ACT government initiative titled the “Demonstration Housing Project”.
In the lead up to the October ACT election, trees were an item of interest to anyone wanting to be elected.
When governments don’t want to do much about something that requires actions, they hold inquiries, set up “Have Your Say” websites, present loads of useless stuff to public gatherings, talk a lot as if they are doing something and produce draft strategies.
While the October ACT election returned a new version of the Labor/Greens coalition, this result was not because it was respected.
It has been about 18 months since I wrote a full piece about the Woden Town Centre and the ever-increasing planning issues that plague residents.
Canberra residents care for their homes, their streets, their suburbs and wish that the urban environments and facilities were maintained and enhanced for future generations.
There’s a new level of frustration within Canberra’s community groups with how the ACT government conducts itself on planning and development.
When it comes to the ACT government and planning and development, 2020 was not a year to be celebrated.
When community groups bring residents together to collectively do something for their suburb, good things happen.
Wandering down a street in Auckland, NZ, in early June 2016, we came upon a small group of people having a laugh about an advertising poster.
Earlier this month we ventured out for the day to meet a friend at Braidwood. She was from the south coast and so Braidwood meant we both travelled just over an hour.
The last couple of years has been bad news for parks in Canberra.
Attention to a significant piece of national land is being overlooked among the misinformation used to justify the demolition of West Basin.
Sometime during the last election, a candidate said something about revising the public sculpture program initiated by Jon Stanhope when he was chief minister.
This piece is addressed to the ACT Greens & its members
Canberra’s community groups are increasingly having to argue for a rethink on the placement of social housing within their suburban areas.
Has the electorate of Murrumbidgee been overlooked again?
Driving west on Belconnen Way, under the Gungahlin Drive Bridge, there is a view that demonstrates how planning and landscape aesthetics are not in the skill set of those who run this city.
Many residents who voted for the ACT Greens are disillusioned given how the partnership with ACT Labor has sidelined many planning, development, environmental, heritage and urban issues.
It is all happening again in Kingston and, as with other locations throughout Canberra, Floriade Reimagined saw locals planting more than 8000 bulbs and annuals in May.
While attention is on larger issues such as the pandemic and a host of planning and development disasters, it is important to not overlook the ever-present local development issues.
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.
When the ACT’s City Renewal Authority made its announcement on Tuesday (August 11) about the latest plan for West Basin, there was a slight glimmer of hope that, at last, maybe someone was listening. Not so!
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.
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.
Artwork: Stephen Harrison
Some of us sit at desks writing loads of stuff to bring about change while the barbarous politicians and bureaucrats just keep on doing what they do best – wreck the joint!
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.
Canberra’s community groups have embraced the opportunity to do what they wish they could do more often – instead of banging their heads up against Canberra’s planning disasters.
Alternative facts are being used to deny the ramifications on a national asset and on the lives of Canberra’s active equestrian communities as the public wakes up to the ACT government’s secret land swap with the NCA.
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 September 2019, when I wrote about the regulatory disaster that was taking place in Paperbark Street in Banks, many people responded with like stories from across Canberra.
As the COVID-19 crisis took hold and people bunkered down, residents hoped for less stupid things by the ACT Planning Directorate.
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.
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.
Woden Valley Community Council (WVCC) meetings have commenced the year 2020 with priority themes that are much the same as in 2019.
In May 2019 the ACT Government declared a climate emergency. The expectation would have been for high-profile urgent actions.
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.
In August 2019, Ben Ponton, the ACT’s chief planner, said: “Your feedback plays a key role through your unique ability to communicate useful observations into issues that may affect your neighbourhood…”
And the reality?
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.
When the ACT Legislative Assembly voted in October to establish a committee to examine the planning problems that plagued the development of the Molonglo suburbs of Wright and Coombs, it would follow that this signalled that someone may be paying attention to what residents have been saying for the last few years.
At least that is what we should be thinking.
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”.
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.
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.
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
There’s a long saga at play in Dickson in Canberra. Here’s the latest on this – click here.
and there’s more..
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
During the last decade the ACT Labor Party has depended on the ACT Greens to form government. What has come of the ACT Greens? Click here
I wrote a piece about the barbarians now running the ACT’s government – click here for the piece in CityNews.
You can tell when residents are hitting the government where it hurts – when the press coverage from the government turns to spin – and more spin. There is no doubt that this is a response to the successes the pesky residents of Downer have had in getting attention through their brilliant “Don’t Dump on Downer” grassroots campaign. Click here.
This a sad tale of people sitting on the fence while part of the heritage of the suburb of Downer is to be removed. Click here.
THE ACT’s muddle-headed bureaucrats keep coming up with planning brochures laden down with alternate facts and marketing spin. Ministers then blindly sign letters to residents based on the bureaucrats’ gobbledygook and then wonder why people get upset. I wrote about what is happening in Downer in City News.
No surprise here! The ACT Government often plays with the truth.
Here’s my piece in City News on this.
The ACT government has failed to care for Canberra’s urban forests. We are constantly losing trees. Click here for my City News article on trees.
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.
Unfortunately what has been happening for years in Canberra, being bad planning and development, looks to continue given the on-going bad decisions by the ACT’s planning minister and his bureaucrats in the planning directorate. 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.
The Dickson Parklands is an important site for the inner north of Canberra.
My post last week on the lack of good design and planning that is evident in the more recent parts of Gungahlin definitely caught a lot of people’s attention.
This post starts with being in front of our house at 6.15 am listening to the cacophony of sounds coming from what must have been a rowdy Christmas Day gathering of Sulphur Crested Cockatoos at end of the street (near the Dickson Drain).
If there is one occupation that I could not imagine doing, it is being an ACT Government planner who spends most of the day looking through development applications (DA) for commercial developments.
About the architecture along Northbourne Avenue