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Are Canberrans a bunch of NIMBYs?

By GnT 26 August 2009 50

There have been a couple of issues floating around recently which has made me realise just how anti-development Canberrans tend to be. First, there’s the immigration bridge which seems to be condemned as an ‘eyesore’, despite no firm design having been put forward; then there’s the new ASIO building which is apparently going to be a ‘monstrosity’; and now there’s the debate over the demolition of the old bus depot building at Kingston, which some believe should be heritage listed.

In fact, I am struggling to find a development in Canberra recent years that has had community support. From public artwork to residential towers to war memorials, everything seems to have a swathe of public opinion against it.

My own opinion? It would be useful to have a foot bridge linking both sides of the lake, especially for tourists and it could add to the aesthetics of the lake. It’s important for government departments to have practical working office space. And it would be lovely to have a new building for the award winning markets, which could give more space for stall holders, better access and parking for shoppers, and a nicer climate and atmosphere, while allowing some new architecture and useful development to be built on the lake foreshore.

I want to live in a city which is vibrant and changing, which takes on new ideas and adapts to our shifting cultural needs, which respects tradition but isn’t stuck in the past, and which demonstrates a broad range of artistic taste.

What’s Your opinion?


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50 Responses to
Are Canberrans a bunch of NIMBYs?
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bromford 1:15 pm 23 Jun 10

They sure are. You can’t even look at Lake Burley Griffon without people worrying that you’ll suddenly sprout cafes and boardwalks and mimes.

thechook 7:11 am 28 Aug 09

And be thankful that Doxiadis and those ascribing to the Athens Charter didn’t have a major influence on Canberra’s design. You should see the results… Riyadh anyone?

thechook 7:05 am 28 Aug 09

GnT said :

You’ve got me fired up mentioning Griffin’s plan! Griffin designed a city in 1911 (ish). There were hardly any cars then; our culture and lifestyle was completely different. Constantly having to refer to what Walter Burleigh Griffin intended is waht keeps us stuck in the past, tied to a plan that has little significance a hundred years on.

In urban design, many of the problems faced across cities are generic, just as are modes of transport. The car was around back then, as were other forms of transport that utilised a miraculous invention called the wheel. The plan Burley-Griffin came up with was well-considered, and has demonstrated a long shelf life. It is appreciated professionally.
One of the problems that Canberra has is that administrations from the 1960s onwards, the “growth period”, exhibited the tendency to follow whatever urban design trend was on the market. The shape of the city looks ulcerous as a result, and it doesn’t take a trained eye to see just how many fads this city has gone through. I laughingly try to find aspects of the “multicultural city” approach in design, even though it was all really just a bit of a post-modern wheeze for anybody with half a brain cell. Since self-government came about, the concept of appropriate urban design has been completely abandoned. Despite all this, our memories of Canberra form around the Burley-Griffin plan.
However, there are serious issues the city needs to face. Will it continue to replicate the wasteful suburbia that Australia has slavishly adopted, or will it get smarter and start to introduce higher density space? True mixed-use rather than commuter communities? Population density sufficient to justify mass transit? As for the light rail brigade, have a look at what BRT has done to revolutionise Brazilian cities… ACTION might even be profitable under the right set of indicators.
Enough of my ranting…

deezagood 2:15 pm 27 Aug 09

Maybe Canberrans care more about their city? I haven’t bothered protesting about anything in the past; lived in big faceless cities with seemingly powerless citizens – never really cared enough to join in any particular protests. Maybe Canberrans are more protective of their ciy because they feel that they have more to lose? Maybe Canberrans have a better sense of community, due to our smallish size? Maybe we whinge more because we actually give a shit about what happens to our town/community?

smilesr 11:43 am 27 Aug 09

The population of Canberra is more highly educated but that doesn’t necessarily relate to commonsense. It just means they know their rights, they know the system and they know how to muscle their way through by their self-righteous cleverness.

Mr Evil 9:59 am 27 Aug 09

Did anyone bother opposing that eyesore apartment block at Woden?

How the hell did that one sneak past the Keeper?

toriness 9:36 am 27 Aug 09

the eyesore of a ghetto behind civic and up ainslie avenue – raze that to the ground and redevelop.

Special G 9:03 am 27 Aug 09

I personally can’t see GnT going elsewhere. People opposed to a project are always going to be more vocal and seek media attention to gain people to their views. There are heaps of developments around the place. Some good some bad in my opinion.

Immigration bridge – bad – no need/call for it.
ASIO building – good.
Stromlo Mtn biking good.
Gungahlin drive – good
Bus depot markets – bad
Kingston railway move – good but new location should be long term link to central Canberra.
Sky plaza – why not.
Belconnen bus interchange – sure why not. old one was crap.
Apartments along Northbourne Ave – raze them to the ground and sell the land as soon as possibly to developers.

Ceej1973 8:52 am 27 Aug 09

Oh, and more to the point…. How about an Arts Centre for Belconnen Mall precinct, that remains empty, that was (supposably) built as a sweetner to the Govt. in return for Westfield being allowed to extend thier shopping mall too close to the Lake.

Ceej1973 8:45 am 27 Aug 09

Got nothing against Federally funded projects such as the ones listed, but a lot against non essential State funded “cultural” projects in a year/s of budget cutbacks, including infrastructure (bus services spring to mind), such as that stupid wind turbine in the middle of Yarra Glen. Oh, thats right, we are forgetting that the Govt. has to spend the money on useless projects, or budget funding wont be matched in subsequent years for the “useless projets” part of budgets. Rant,grumble,from your outer suburban Nimby.

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