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If the NIMBYs had their way, Canberra would be a ghost town

By John Hargreaves - 16 January 2017 62

Northbourne Ave

I have broken one New Year’s resolution already.  That was not to get upset at those selfish middle aged and old NIMBYs who object to anything and everything progressive around their street or shopping centre.

They really give me the irrits.  If they had their way, we would be living in a town with the architecture of the 1930s to 1950s, would have aged infrastructure and no vibrancy at all.  We would be in a ghost town.

In 2016, hardly a week went by without some group or retired academic objecting about something in their street or area, be it a group of townhouses popping up in their street to address the housing shortage and to allow old folks to age in place or a multi-storeyed building in the local or town centre.

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They objected to the removal of hideous old public housing buildings along Northbourne Ave even though the tenants were to be housed in up to date housing properties, with state of the art facilities and fittings, environmentally friendly window treatments and modern appliances.  When shown these new properties, the tenants thought their Christmasses had all come at once. But still the NIMBYs weren’t happy.

Why do they object?  Any number of spurious reasons.  Their property values would plummet! Really?  Get real! In almost every case property values go up when a suburb is modernised.

The ambience of the suburb and its intrinsic beauty will be compromised.  Who says so?  When they pop their clogs, the houses will be occupied by people who were born generations after them and have a different attitude to ambience.  They want ambience with the mod cons of modern architecture and solar power.  They want neighbourhoods with amenities for their kids.  The NIMBYs would outlaw the kids if they could!

They say that the developments will increase the traffic in their streets. What a load of rot! Sure the traffic will increase as more people move in but the same can be said for dual occupancies and granny flats, but then the complainers would object to those being built.

What part of more people in an area increases personal safety and security for properties don’t they get?  What part of having more people often generates more jobs in the service industries don’t they get?

These are the same complainers who mourn the old days.  Well the old days are gone.  We need to have employment opportunities and housing opportunities for the increasing population of this city. This means more office space in the town centres and going up is the only way that can happen.  They complain about the roads we are resurfacing in their suburbs, they complain about the construction of new highway size roads and overpasses or roundabouts.  But they still complain about how long it takes to go to work.  I don’t reckon many of them actually do go to work and I reckon hardly any of them have ever travelled by bus even though they complain about the inadequacy of public transport.

They complain about the multi-storeyed apartment blocks even though the occupants of said apartments want to be close to work and away from the commuting traffic. The Newbies don’t want to own a car and don’t have to if they live in an apartment on a public transport route.

The NIMBYs complain about traffic on the Parkway yet complain about increased bus services and the light rail proposal. They complain about the cutting down of trees even though the trees are inappropriate for the area and are nearing the end of their life expectancy. We live in an urban forest and they complain about not being able to cut down trees on their nature strips.

When I came to Canberra in 1968, it was a lovely place. It was growing at a rate which was fascinating.  I lived in Belconnen and saw it explode.  Everyone was young and everyone was excited.  No-one that I knew was over protective of their way of life and their understanding of how the world should be in their little pocket of it.  NIMBYs were assumed to inhabit the inner south, particularly Red Hill, Forrest, Yarralumla and Deakin. Reid and Braddon had a few (which morphed into the Residents Rally later on!)

But now the disease of selfishness has spread to the burbs.  The only consistency about these complainers is their inconsistency.

These are the same people who bag the Labor Club Group for a so-called dependence on problem gambling, even though the Vikings Group has more pokies, they claim that the Labor Club Group is owned by the Labor Party, even though clubs are not allowed to be privately owned, according to the law. They ignored the fact that the Labor Party distanced itself from the poker machine revenue by creating another revenue stream based on investment in childcare and now watch for the objections to the Labor Club development in Belconnen, which creates a hotel on its own piece of real estate.  I await the objections with bated breath.

I’m happy that the town is booming.  I’m happy with the forest of cranes on the skyline. I’m happy about the light rail and all it promises.  I’m happy to see hideous monstrosities torn down and replaced by modern steel and glass buildings with interesting architecture.  I’m happy to see old public housing stock (the ACT has the oldest public housing stock in the country) demolished and replaced with modern homes with modern amenities. I’m happy about developments to our road network and our public transport system. I’m happy about the proliferation of outdoor cafes and eateries. I’m happy about the live music scene in Canberra. I’m happy about the way Canberra has grown up with me.

I just wish these stuck-in-the-past NIMBYs would just grow up instead of just growing old!

On to my next resolution.  Not to rant too much in 2017.  Mmmmmm!

What’s Your opinion?


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62 Responses to
If the NIMBYs had their way, Canberra would be a ghost town
1
K_c24 8:23 am
16 Jan 17
#

This is excellent. Queanbeyan is also suffering from a lot of NIMBYism at the moment. It’s pathetic especially because you know full well that the majority of people objecting to the EDE road are only doing so because it is quite literally in their backyard, despite the fact it was planned that way long before the houses were built. Their counter argument that the Council is building the wrong road is just pure deflection and makes the problem that of other people who’ll jump up and down for the same reason (while disguising it as concern for the environment). It’s called progress. If you don’t like it move to a dying country town somewhere where they don’t even have the possibility of ‘progress’. Perhaps you’ll quickly reassess your priorities and be grateful.

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2
Kent Street 11:23 am
16 Jan 17
#

sorry John, but I don’t see the relevance to NIMBYism of the pokies rant.
the development, yes, but the pokies?
just looks an opportunistic strike to me.

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3
mcs 12:42 pm
16 Jan 17
#

You can whine about double standards in terms of pokies for as long as you want – no one is going to believe Labor is doing anything significant to wean itself off pokies until it actually makes a meaningful move to get out of the business – be that selling the clubs, or at very least reducing poker machine numbers voluntarily.

When those follow up steps are confirmed, then labor can take credit for seeking to get out of a dirty business such as being a pokies baron . Until such time, labor deserves to get criticised heavily for being in the business of promoting misery in our community to fund its political activities.

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4
HenryBG 1:12 pm
16 Jan 17
#

Pokies?
What would Jesus do?
He’d go in there with a crowbar and smash them up!

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5
dungfungus 3:24 pm
16 Jan 17
#

Wasn’t the banning of fireworks in the ACT the work of a NIMBY?

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6
dungfungus 3:25 pm
16 Jan 17
#

dungfungus said :

Wasn’t the banning of fireworks in the ACT the work of a NIMBY?

Sorry, I should have said “a progressive NIMBY”

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7
bruce_lord 4:02 pm
16 Jan 17
#

I have to laugh when John Hargreaves gets on his high horse complaining about Canberra becoming a Ghost Town.

I can tell you it’s a Ghost Town around Urambi Primary School, mt Neighbour Primary School and Village Creek Primary School.

Seeing he was very complicit in closing a lot of these schools in his electorate and his inability to get funding off his own party to develop new infrastructure and building improvements into Tuggeranong, these complaints ring a touch hollow.

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8
dungfungus 4:23 pm
16 Jan 17
#

bruce_lord said :

I have to laugh when John Hargreaves gets on his high horse complaining about Canberra becoming a Ghost Town.

I can tell you it’s a Ghost Town around Urambi Primary School, mt Neighbour Primary School and Village Creek Primary School.

Seeing he was very complicit in closing a lot of these schools in his electorate and his inability to get funding off his own party to develop new infrastructure and building improvements into Tuggeranong, these complaints ring a touch hollow.

Also advanced signs of decay at the Tuggers Town Centre.

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9
HiddenDragon 5:31 pm
16 Jan 17
#

“But now the disease of selfishness has spread to the burbs. The only consistency about these complainers is their inconsistency. ” – an inconsistency, such as it is, which is, in truth, a (very) politically useful ingredient in the symbiotic relationship between Labor and the Greens in this town, with many of the NIMBYs preferencing those parties ahead of the Liberals on the basis of the “least worst option” on matters of urban change.

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10
SomethingSomethingRu 7:52 pm
16 Jan 17
#

Interesting and, for me, quite topical – there’s a planning application in at my local shops which is attracting a fair bit of interest.

Basically, the idea is a 6-storey multi-use development to replace a rank of single-level shops. Personally I imagine that this is merely an opening gambit on the part of the owners, with the intention of settling at perhaps 3 or 4 storeys.

The original shops were built in the 60s or 70s, and redevelopment is probably welcomed by most locals. There are concerns over proportions and (importantly in Canberra one would have thought) increased shadows over the existing open “square”.

This being my local shops, I am interested in contributing intelligently and fairly to the
discussions. It’s easy to just be a NIMBY – or for that matter to shut down argument by accusing others of the same – but this development probably sets the initial tone for further improvements after that, and whatever results overall will shape the suburb for a generation or more, both the good and the bad.

The main part I am wondering about is the 50 units – all of which are to be retained by the
existing owners for rental only. This seems highly unusual in Canberra, although I am a relative newcomer to this city. In other cities with longer history and a broader mix of accommodation types it is, of course, more common and is associated equally with the most exclusive of apartment blocks and the worst of slums.

I’d be interested to hear from longer-established Canberrans of any blocks they know of in this city which are fairly sizeable and are owned and controlled by a single family for rental only. Is it something that has worked well in this city? Or even badly?

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11
Chris Mordd Richards 2:11 am
17 Jan 17
#

There’s nuances regarding planning processes and consultation not address in this piece, but in broad terms I agree with John H on this overall. Pokies might be a cheap shot but ACT Labor still deserve it imho until the sever links entirely.

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12
miz 7:53 am
17 Jan 17
#

Look it comes down to trust. Do we trust that the ACT Government is interested in building a better community?
People (especially Canberrans) are neither stupid nor ignorant about how government operates, and have seen, time and again, how the ACT Government has prioritised their own self-interest (usually money though land sales/development) and the interests of lobby groups over the existing amenity that serves the ordinary person who lives there and likes the place as it is. This lack of trust feeds a knee jerk NIMBY reaction.
It is also really, really frustrating to try and have input when the whole consultation is geared to ‘you’ll get this unless you scream’ (as someone succinctly put it in the CT recently).

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13
John Moulis 9:51 am
17 Jan 17
#

The worst example of Nimbyism I can think of were those selfish Macarthur residents who caused the cancellation of the data centre/gas fired power station on Mugga Lane. That project would have provided reliable baseload power for the ACT and made us self sufficient in electricity. The campaign against the data centre was truly bizarre. I remember on RA at the time someone even saying that if it went ahead the people of Macarthur could be killed in a Bhopal/Union Carbide style gas leak. Stupid, idiotic nonsense but those arrogant b*stards got their way and the project was dumped.

Now on Mugga Lane in its place is a large solar farm. Very impressive to look at but the power is dependant on the weather. When the sun goes down we have to connect the extension cord to NSW and Victoria again. It really was a step backwards.

When the lights go off and we receive our exorbitant power bills when the 100% renewable energy target kicks in we will remember the golden opportunity which was cruelly snatched from us in the name of selfish Nimbyism.

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14
dungfungus 1:06 pm
17 Jan 17
#

John Moulis said :

The worst example of Nimbyism I can think of were those selfish Macarthur residents who caused the cancellation of the data centre/gas fired power station on Mugga Lane. That project would have provided reliable baseload power for the ACT and made us self sufficient in electricity. The campaign against the data centre was truly bizarre. I remember on RA at the time someone even saying that if it went ahead the people of Macarthur could be killed in a Bhopal/Union Carbide style gas leak. Stupid, idiotic nonsense but those arrogant b*stards got their way and the project was dumped.

Now on Mugga Lane in its place is a large solar farm. Very impressive to look at but the power is dependant on the weather. When the sun goes down we have to connect the extension cord to NSW and Victoria again. It really was a step backwards.

When the lights go off and we receive our exorbitant power bills when the 100% renewable energy target kicks in we will remember the golden opportunity which was cruelly snatched from us in the name of selfish Nimbyism.

That proposal didn’t stack up economically either but why let facts get in the way of a good story.
I take it you would have been happy to have it on top of Mt Taylor?

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15
HenryBG 1:25 pm
17 Jan 17
#

John Moulis said :

The worst example of Nimbyism I can think of were those selfish Macarthur residents who caused the cancellation of the data centre/gas fired power station on Mugga Lane. That project would have provided reliable baseload power for the ACT and made us self sufficient in electricity. The campaign against the data centre was truly bizarre. I remember on RA at the time someone even saying that if it went ahead the people of Macarthur could be killed in a Bhopal/Union Carbide style gas leak. Stupid, idiotic nonsense but those arrogant b*stards got their way and the project was dumped.

Now on Mugga Lane in its place is a large solar farm. Very impressive to look at but the power is dependant on the weather. When the sun goes down we have to connect the extension cord to NSW and Victoria again. It really was a step backwards.

When the lights go off and we receive our exorbitant power bills when the 100% renewable energy target kicks in we will remember the golden opportunity which was cruelly snatched from us in the name of selfish Nimbyism.

Let’s just join the dots:
1. The Macarthur Nimbys were whipped into a fervor by Zed Seselja, a member of the “Jobsan Growth” Party. Zed campaigned tirelessly to ensure there would be no jobs and growth on Mugga Lane….
Strange…..

2. When you make a significant investment into being energy-self-sufficient, you need multiple sources of power generation.
The ACT Government was about to go on a Wind & Solar investment rampage, and a very significant step to mitigate the risk represented by renewables’ variability in energy generation would be to have a local gas-fired facility.

The dots thus joined, we can now see that Zed’s opposition to gas-fired jobs&growth was a local version of his party’s similarly ideologically-inspired deliberate vandalism of the NBN project.

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