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West Belco advocate slams state of playground

By Charlotte Harper - 3 February 2017 29

Higgins playground. Photo: Vanessa Jones

Former independent candidate for Ginninderra Vanessa Jones has called on the ACT Government to make basic improvements to a local playground in Higgins that features only a non-functioning bubbler and a swingset.

Ms Jones reckons it’s about time the ACT Government showed some love to the suburb of Higgins, an affordable suburb that is home to many young families living in older homes on larger blocks.

“I took some photos of my local area playground, in Hudson Street, Higgins,” Ms Jones wrote on Facebook this week.

“There is no longer a working water bubbler. This is what we get, in a seat where we have 3 out of 5 politicians as Labor. People say Canberra is one of the best cities in the world … Ummm.

“How about a working water bubbler, a picnic table and a slippery dip? There are many new families in this area, with young kids. If we can fund 2 tram lines, well, can we improve on this?”

Ms Jones said a local quality playground was a great social place for children and adults, and provided a space for healthy physical activity for kids of all ages.

Higgins playground. Photo: Vanessa Jones

Higgins playground. Photo: Vanessa Jones

“Surely, quality playgrounds have a value, in various ways?” she said.

“I was just chatting with a Higgins man about his attempt to improve a local playground. He contacted a Labor politician, who did not help him out. We share an area, and I’d like that playground upgraded too.

She says she once asked about improving this other playground, and was told that the ACT Government can’t afford to maintain each Canberra playground.

Ms Jones asked readers of her Facebook page, Canberra Ideas with Vanessa Jones, what they felt Higgins needed and received the following suggestions:

“Water park, BBQ park with bike or skate park, exercise circuit area in parks like at John Knight memorial park at Ginninderra. Flying fox, better paths, especially at the round about near Kingsford-Smith school crossing from Starke.”

“Replace the ageing street trees that are being removed, to keep our suburb leafy green, which improves values and liveability. I second the play space, and lovely big nature based playground would be amazing.”

One reader, David Green, posted a copy of a letter he’d sent to Ginninderra MLA and Deputy Labor Leader Yvette Berry:

Hello Ms Berry,

Thank you for your time. I have met and spoken to you on a number of occasions in the past at the Higgins shops and at our residence when you called in about 3 years ago.

Just writing to let you know that the playground park (if you can called it that) in the Higgins suburb just 90 metres from our home at 21 Fullagar Crescent and between Hudson and Brazel streets is very poor and neglected and has been so for years (see pics and location map). We have lived here for 28 years and nothing has been improved in the park, only equipment has been taken away now leaving just one swing set. I know you live in the vicinity and would be aware of the park.

The park contains one set of single swings, a broken and out of date bubbler and one bench seat and no lighting. It used to have steel climbing cube but that was removed many years ago.

I would like to lobby and propose to request that the park be upgraded with a new array of swings, sea saw, climbing castle with slippery slide etc with appropriate soft rubber surface for safety and appropriate lighting to bring it up to standard like all new suburbs and other older suburbs that have had their playground parks across Canberra updated and provided with new and modern fixtures.

I’m sorry but we pay taxes and rates and believe that it is way overdue for the park to be updated.

We have 4 grandchildren 2 of whom live nearby to the park and who visit regularly and there are many other young families with children in the area who would make use of the park if it had modern and updated equipment.

At the moment it is a disgrace and an eyesore.

Having a modern and up to date park invokes a community spirit to be proud of.

Can you please forward this letter to its appropriate area to have the park seriously considered for a revamp.

Thank you.

Kind regards,

David Green

Another reader wondered whether Ms Jones knew about the ACT Government’s announcement last November that three parks had been selected as winners in the ACT Craft Your Park competition.

Three teams of landscape architects will design and construct natural play spaces for Canberra’s children in each of the parks respectively.

Natural play spaces incorporate elements from the landscape such as sand, trees and rocks encouraging children to climb, jump, explore and have fun.

The selected teams with their parks are:

Finn Street in O’Connor – Spacelab, Glascott Landscape and Civil, and Provincial Plants and Landscapes
Telopea Park in Barton – Group GSA, Cia Landscapes and Colour, and Ric McConaghy
Tuggeranong Town Park in Greenway – Harris Hobbs Landscapes, Area Design Consultants, Brindabella Contractors Pty Ltd, Nicholas Bray Landscapes and Geoff Filmer.

Each team is to receive $100,000 for the design, community engagement and construction of their natural play space.

Designs for the natural play spaces will be available online soon at www.tccs.act.gov.au with works to start by mid-2017.

Here are Ms Jones’ “high hopes” for her home suburb of Higgins:

1. Weekend blue rapid buses every 15 minutes from Belconnen to Kippax. The blue rapid buses go on Southern Cross Drive on weekdays, so the normal route is alongside Higgins.

2. Bus shelters on Castieau and Fullagar streets in Higgins. I have had good news on my request for these bus shelters, and I am waiting for the building to happen, for 2 bus shelters – baby steps. We live in hope. Where do you need bus shelters in Higgins?

3. Fix up and improve Hudson St, Higgins playground – get the water bubbler working, have a picnic table, slippery dip and anything else kids would enjoy. Maybe put in a rubbish bin? Get kids active and healthy, and provide free, healthy activities for local families.

4. Put one of the new water fountains at Higgins shops, like the one at Cook shops. I am sure the elderly at the new nursing home will appreciate a top level water fountain at the shops.

5. Fix up the cracked and broken footpaths on main roads in Higgins, especially Fullagar Cres, Higgins. People walk there. We don’t have many footpaths in Higgins, most Higgins streets have no footpaths at all, so fix up what we have.

6. Build a playground, bike track, benches, bbqs, picnic huts and indoor pool on Higgins oval, below the old Higgins school site. Fund safe Labor areas, give families affordable, healthy lifestyle options.

What else does Higgins need? What does your suburb need? Are you happy with the state of your local playground? What would you like to see added or repaired? Or is there no playground near where you live? Let us know in the comments.

Pictured is the playground at Hudson St, Higgins. Photos: Vanessa Jones

What’s Your opinion?


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29 Responses to
West Belco advocate slams state of playground
1
wildturkeycanoe 6:33 am
04 Feb 17
#

An excellent article that highlights the tunnel vision of our politicians. If it isn’t near central Canberra or has something to do with development applications, art or cycling infrastructure, they just don’t care. There are some parks in our area, whilst much newer than the one mentioned in this story, that have been so neglected in terms of maintenance they’ve become fire hazards. It might have seemed to be a great idea to plant tall reedy native grasses initially, but once they become overgrown and infested with weeds, nobody wants to go and play in there in case snakes have made it their home.
It isn’t only public playgrounds that have a problem, but our local primary school has had one play area barricaded with orange safety fencing for half a year whilst other pieces of the equipment have been removed entirely. Have the purse strings been tightened to pay for our toy train set, at the expense of maintenance programs for parks and gardens? I wonder how the government would fare if the playground at the Arboretum looked like this one? You would think they’d get quite a lot of feedback from the public. I guess it only matters to them if there is money involved, such as tourism dollars or developer donations.
Perhaps it is time for the public to band together and get a petition organised to show the government what really matters to them. I’ll sign, how about the rest of you?

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2
bruce_lord 11:02 am
04 Feb 17
#

Great article and what the riot act needs more of. I’m afraid parks and public facilities in outer canberra (especially in Belconnen and Tuggeranong) have been ignored by ACT government for at least a decade.

Certainly no surprise to see O’Connor and Barton get the government funding prize for their parks. How much of my suburb Banks in southern Tuggeranong massive land rates tax increases has been taken from me and my Neighbours to be redirected to the inner richer suburbs. It’s reverse Robin Hood. Take from the poor and give to the rich.

Personally I’m sick of being hit by extra charges to fund the already over resourced areas and facilities where Barr and Rattenbury live.

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3
gee de green 11:35 am
04 Feb 17
#

Thanks for the great article we need much more focus on our local communities and how we can empower ourselves and take back relevant issues from the left right distraction marching us off the corporate sellout cliff.

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4
TuggLife 3:44 pm
05 Feb 17
#

The playground budget isn’t infinite. Many of these little playgrounds are very old – no shade, metal that’s white-hot in the summer, no toilets, etc. They are generally on blocks that have utilities on them, or are empty for storm water drainage, and are unsuitable for housing. The trend in playground design is to have larger, more central, facilities, that can be enjoyed by all. The trade off is that not everyone can live next door to one.

If you head over to Westhoven At, you’ll find a much larger facility to serve the people of Higgins.

So what to do with the old playground? There’s no money for improvements, so the choice is continue to maintain it, or remove it entirely. A walk to an old swingset might not be as fun as a giant playground, but it’s better than nothing.

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5
TuggLife 3:47 pm
05 Feb 17
#

PS Can I please write and article complaining about all the things wrong with my immediate neighbourhood, even though they all existed when I bought the place?

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6
Zultan 9:05 am
07 Feb 17
#

TuggLife said :

PS Can I please write and article complaining about all the things wrong with my immediate neighbourhood, even though they all existed when I bought the place?

Just because something is wrong, it doesn’t mean it can’t be fixed….

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7
Serina Huang 5:35 pm
07 Feb 17
#

I lived in Western Belconnen (Latham) for nearly twelve years, but have just moved my family out of the area. While I love the community there are many reasons for that decision, and lack of infrastructure speaking in Western Belconnen (especially on transport) was one of them. It is indeed a rich community area and there are many young families. I was not aware that the Higgins park was so rundown. While it is a little further away to venture, at least the park at Kippax Fair is good and the public library there is excellent.

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8
wildturkeycanoe 6:23 am
09 Feb 17
#

TuggLife said :

So what to do with the old playground? There’s no money for improvements, so the choice is continue to maintain it, or remove it entirely.

Apparently there is plenty of money but playgrounds simply aren’t going to help the government win votes as much as a tram or public art will. If you look up the ACT budget papers, they even boast of having a surplus next year and “This Budget also spends more on better facilities for Canberrans – including significant investments in sporting facilities,
playground upgrades….”. Just not in West Belconnen.

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9
John Moulis 9:09 am
09 Feb 17
#

It is a type of playground, so who is responsible for ordering the equipment for the fitness stations in Canberra? The one in Eddison Park Woden doesn’t even have chinup bars. Come on! Chinup bars (or showoff bars) are essential for building up your ego in the park, especially when nobody else can do muscle ups :-)

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10
Vanessa Jones 11:43 am
09 Feb 17
#

wildturkeycanoe said :

TuggLife said :

So what to do with the old playground? There’s no money for improvements, so the choice is continue to maintain it, or remove it entirely.

Apparently there is plenty of money but playgrounds simply aren’t going to help the government win votes as much as a tram or public art will. If you look up the ACT budget papers, they even boast of having a surplus next year and “This Budget also spends more on better facilities for Canberrans – including significant investments in sporting facilities,
playground upgrades….”. Just not in West Belconnen.

Perhaps The Riot Act can start a “social equity” section, and focus on ignored areas of Canberra. West Belconnen and Tuggeranong outer suburban areas would be a good start. They could highlight one issue each week, a real infrastructure issue. Readers could discuss the issue and MLAs could be asked what they will do about it, and if they believe that the area mentioned, should have equal resources to other areas. It would be interesting to see if Labor politicians, for example, believe that West Belconnen deserves average facilities, equal to other areas. The media in Canberra focuses on the “tram zones’, perhaps it’s time to start having a broader focus, and challenge Labor ideals. Why is it that ACT Labor and the ACT Greens ignore their most loyal voters, in the outer suburbs, i.e. in Ginninderra? It’s a huge issue.

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11
dungfungus 1:49 pm
09 Feb 17
#

Vanessa Jones said :

wildturkeycanoe said :

TuggLife said :

So what to do with the old playground? There’s no money for improvements, so the choice is continue to maintain it, or remove it entirely.

Apparently there is plenty of money but playgrounds simply aren’t going to help the government win votes as much as a tram or public art will. If you look up the ACT budget papers, they even boast of having a surplus next year and “This Budget also spends more on better facilities for Canberrans – including significant investments in sporting facilities,
playground upgrades….”. Just not in West Belconnen.

Perhaps The Riot Act can start a “social equity” section, and focus on ignored areas of Canberra. West Belconnen and Tuggeranong outer suburban areas would be a good start. They could highlight one issue each week, a real infrastructure issue. Readers could discuss the issue and MLAs could be asked what they will do about it, and if they believe that the area mentioned, should have equal resources to other areas. It would be interesting to see if Labor politicians, for example, believe that West Belconnen deserves average facilities, equal to other areas. The media in Canberra focuses on the “tram zones’, perhaps it’s time to start having a broader focus, and challenge Labor ideals. Why is it that ACT Labor and the ACT Greens ignore their most loyal voters, in the outer suburbs, i.e. in Ginninderra? It’s a huge issue.

That is a “dangerous idea” and I am all for it.

In answer to your question (second-last last sentence), the answer is “because they can”.

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12
bruce_lord 3:50 pm
09 Feb 17
#

Vanessa Jones said :

wildturkeycanoe said :

TuggLife said :

So what to do with the old playground? There’s no money for improvements, so the choice is continue to maintain it, or remove it entirely.

Apparently there is plenty of money but playgrounds simply aren’t going to help the government win votes as much as a tram or public art will. If you look up the ACT budget papers, they even boast of having a surplus next year and “This Budget also spends more on better facilities for Canberrans – including significant investments in sporting facilities,
playground upgrades….”. Just not in West Belconnen.

Perhaps The Riot Act can start a “social equity” section, and focus on ignored areas of Canberra. West Belconnen and Tuggeranong outer suburban areas would be a good start. They could highlight one issue each week, a real infrastructure issue. Readers could discuss the issue and MLAs could be asked what they will do about it, and if they believe that the area mentioned, should have equal resources to other areas. It would be interesting to see if Labor politicians, for example, believe that West Belconnen deserves average facilities, equal to other areas. The media in Canberra focuses on the “tram zones’, perhaps it’s time to start having a broader focus, and challenge Labor ideals. Why is it that ACT Labor and the ACT Greens ignore their most loyal voters, in the outer suburbs, i.e. in Ginninderra? It’s a huge issue.

I think it’s a great idea Vanessa. If it can cause some action to address issues in neglected pockets of West Belconnen and Tuggeranong then it can only be a good thing.

There is no doubt that certain inner canberra residents have more influence over the government than Jo Blow from Charnwood or Kambah. This might be an opportunity for long ignored areas to have their issues raised and addressed.

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13
gazket 6:05 pm
09 Feb 17
#

That bubbler is disgusting, not even Todd Carney wouldn’t use it .
We should make the Labor MLA’s drink from it..

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14
CDB 7:26 pm
09 Feb 17
#

In this heat, that bubbler is a bit sub-par!

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15
bruce_lord 8:50 pm
09 Feb 17
#

gazket said :

That bubbler is disgusting, not even Todd Carney wouldn’t use it .
We should make the Labor MLA’s drink from it..

Ha ha that’s a classic

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