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Ask RiotACT: What is missing in Canberra?

By Ian - 10 January 2017 33

Ask RiotACT

Over the last 10 years Canberra has transformed and become something more grown up, more vibrant; but after many conversations with people who travel regularly, I can’t help feeling that something is still missing.

Many friends travel to Sydney or Melbourne for bargain shopping, to get a wedding dress fitted or to buy a new car but all of these things can be done here, and after you factor in travel costs, probably cheaper. So for me the drive for them to travel to shop is more about the experience and less about the economics of the transaction.

There are many things I can’t buy here in Canberra that I can in Sydney or Melbourne, but I just get them online, so unless I need it right now I do it that way.

What’s Your opinion?


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33 Responses to
Ask RiotACT: What is missing in Canberra?
Leon Arundell 10:09 am 16 Jan 17

Separated pedestrian paths, like the one near Ramsgate Beach in Sydney, where people can walk without fear of bicycles (which have their own separate path).

dungfungus 9:18 am 16 Jan 17

dungfungus said :

wildturkeycanoe said :

“Canberra has transformed and become something more grown up, more vibrant;”
There go those fancy catch-phrases again. Are we grown up because we’ve adopted laws and strategies that are exclusively found in the hipster cities of Central Europe? Is it because we are putting more floors on the buildings along the “transport corridors”? Maybe our number plates should reflect these government innovations. “Canberra – The vibrant territory”. I mean, what exactly makes it so vibrant? It certainly isn’t the design or colour of the buildings, the number of trees planted around the place or the happy smiles of the shoppers dashing around, quickly gathering their products before the free two hour parking is expired. Maybe it is the fluorescent orange, temporary barricade fencing used to envelop construction sites and roadworks that seem to take forever to complete. Perhaps the colourful language and arm signals used by pedestrians and Canberra drivers every time a cyclist encroaches their part of the transport infrastructure.

As for the question why people leave Canberra, these are my thoughts.
Recreation. Where can you go for a swim in nice clear waters without paying through the nose and getting chlorine in your pores? You can go to the coast or the mountains to find fresh, non-polluted fun. It beats the green algae and murky brown of our local watering holes. Aquatic activities like water skiing, jet skis and tubes aren’t available anywhere locally except for Lake Burrinjuck, also an hour’s drive away.
Whilst on the subject of water, fishing is virtually non-existent here [certainly not if you want to eat any of it], but a hop-skip and jump away you have the abundance of estuaries and ocean, or the alpine lakes for something more relaxing.
As for shopping, I don’t really know as we don’t buy much more than the bare essentials. However, even within Canberra I have noticed I have to go to the larger shopping centers to buy some products from the same brand of store we have locally, because the range is broader. It seems the myriad of shops sprouting up in the suburbs are limited on variety and they keep pulling stuff off the shelves, so I am forced to go further in to town to buy what I need. I think they have just spread themselves too thin and can’t maintain their stocks due to cost.

I think that the cost of living in Canberra will force more retired people and others on fixed income to leave Canberra.

This will create a dilemma for most as in old age, access to specialist health care is the number one priority and most specialists are in the capital cities only – Canberra doesn’t even have a full compliment of them.

I have friends who have relocated to other towns in the region where the cost of housing and living is much less that Canberra but they all find it is impossible to get immediate access to a GP and when they do and if a specialist is required they are referred to one in Sydney or Melbourne, not Canberra where family or friends can help out with accommodation etc.

A lot of retired couples in Canberra are trying to live in dignity on about $30,000 a year. The cost of private health is now almost $5,000 a year, a car costs about $2,000 a year to register and insure and service (plus petrol), rates are about $3,000 a year home insurance about $1,500 a year and it goes on. There is no such thing as disposable income anymore for this growing demographic. Discounts for seniors are fast disappearing.

The current government really doesn’t have a plan to head this off, that is what is missing in Canberra.

I forgot to add energy costs of about $2,000 a year (knowing it is “green” is cold comfort) and phone / internet services which is another $2,000 a year.

Not much of that $30,000 left to live on is there?

dungfungus 7:45 am 16 Jan 17

Maya123 said :

dungfungus said :

That’s a fair assessment of Canberra but last year some of here in Tuggers missed 4 garbage collections and 2 recycling collections due to industrial action which was not a national emergency but it was inconvenient and no reduction in annual rates was made to compensate for this.

Only missed four! I missed most of the rubbish collections, as most weeks I don’t put out a bin (at least the ordinary garbage) and I don’t expect a reduction in rates. Be nice though to pay for the rubbish generated, but if it became user pays, then some of the people finding they were no longer being subsidised by those who generate much less rubbish and they had to pay for what they generated, (likely the biggest users and those that can’t be bothered to separate recyclables) would just go dump it in the bush. For this reason I sadly accept I must pay for a service that most weeks I don’t need. Once every month or two would be enough for me for the non-recyclable collection.

Obviously some suburbs are more equal than others and as long as people have an attitude like “I don’t expect a reduction in rates (for services I pay for but don’t receive)” nothing will change in the coolest little Capital in the world.

rommeldog56 7:31 am 16 Jan 17

dungfungus said :

I have friends who have relocated to other towns in the region where the cost of housing and living is much less that Canberra….

Correct. Makes the proposed ACT number plate slogan “Canberra-Age Friendly City” a total joke. Just more spin/lies by ACT Labor/Greens unleashed onto the gullible and apathetic ACT voters/Ratepayers.

dungfungus 9:02 pm 15 Jan 17

wildturkeycanoe said :

“Canberra has transformed and become something more grown up, more vibrant;”
There go those fancy catch-phrases again. Are we grown up because we’ve adopted laws and strategies that are exclusively found in the hipster cities of Central Europe? Is it because we are putting more floors on the buildings along the “transport corridors”? Maybe our number plates should reflect these government innovations. “Canberra – The vibrant territory”. I mean, what exactly makes it so vibrant? It certainly isn’t the design or colour of the buildings, the number of trees planted around the place or the happy smiles of the shoppers dashing around, quickly gathering their products before the free two hour parking is expired. Maybe it is the fluorescent orange, temporary barricade fencing used to envelop construction sites and roadworks that seem to take forever to complete. Perhaps the colourful language and arm signals used by pedestrians and Canberra drivers every time a cyclist encroaches their part of the transport infrastructure.

As for the question why people leave Canberra, these are my thoughts.
Recreation. Where can you go for a swim in nice clear waters without paying through the nose and getting chlorine in your pores? You can go to the coast or the mountains to find fresh, non-polluted fun. It beats the green algae and murky brown of our local watering holes. Aquatic activities like water skiing, jet skis and tubes aren’t available anywhere locally except for Lake Burrinjuck, also an hour’s drive away.
Whilst on the subject of water, fishing is virtually non-existent here [certainly not if you want to eat any of it], but a hop-skip and jump away you have the abundance of estuaries and ocean, or the alpine lakes for something more relaxing.
As for shopping, I don’t really know as we don’t buy much more than the bare essentials. However, even within Canberra I have noticed I have to go to the larger shopping centers to buy some products from the same brand of store we have locally, because the range is broader. It seems the myriad of shops sprouting up in the suburbs are limited on variety and they keep pulling stuff off the shelves, so I am forced to go further in to town to buy what I need. I think they have just spread themselves too thin and can’t maintain their stocks due to cost.

I think that the cost of living in Canberra will force more retired people and others on fixed income to leave Canberra.

This will create a dilemma for most as in old age, access to specialist health care is the number one priority and most specialists are in the capital cities only – Canberra doesn’t even have a full compliment of them.

I have friends who have relocated to other towns in the region where the cost of housing and living is much less that Canberra but they all find it is impossible to get immediate access to a GP and when they do and if a specialist is required they are referred to one in Sydney or Melbourne, not Canberra where family or friends can help out with accommodation etc.

A lot of retired couples in Canberra are trying to live in dignity on about $30,000 a year. The cost of private health is now almost $5,000 a year, a car costs about $2,000 a year to register and insure and service (plus petrol), rates are about $3,000 a year home insurance about $1,500 a year and it goes on. There is no such thing as disposable income anymore for this growing demographic. Discounts for seniors are fast disappearing.

The current government really doesn’t have a plan to head this off, that is what is missing in Canberra.

miz 2:29 pm 15 Jan 17

I agree with gbates – I have lived elsewhere (various council regions in Sydney and Central Coast of NSW) and for me the general ‘look and feel’ of some parts of Canberra in particular give off an uncared-for vibe. It’s got to the point where it’s quite embarrassing when friends (from Western Sydney of all places) visit and comment (e.g. on the rubbish, unmowed grass, tree-less, shade-less and generally unwelcoming suburban parks).
On top of which, it seems that there is an impression that having bogan or hipster events makes us look ‘vibrant’ – sorry, it just comes over as ‘try hard’.
To me ‘vibrant’ means dirty and horrible, i.e. somewhere I do not want to live, like Brunswick in Melbourne.

Maya123 12:41 pm 15 Jan 17

dungfungus said :

That’s a fair assessment of Canberra but last year some of here in Tuggers missed 4 garbage collections and 2 recycling collections due to industrial action which was not a national emergency but it was inconvenient and no reduction in annual rates was made to compensate for this.

Only missed four! I missed most of the rubbish collections, as most weeks I don’t put out a bin (at least the ordinary garbage) and I don’t expect a reduction in rates. Be nice though to pay for the rubbish generated, but if it became user pays, then some of the people finding they were no longer being subsidised by those who generate much less rubbish and they had to pay for what they generated, (likely the biggest users and those that can’t be bothered to separate recyclables) would just go dump it in the bush. For this reason I sadly accept I must pay for a service that most weeks I don’t need. Once every month or two would be enough for me for the non-recyclable collection.

wildturkeycanoe 8:47 am 15 Jan 17

“Canberra has transformed and become something more grown up, more vibrant;”
There go those fancy catch-phrases again. Are we grown up because we’ve adopted laws and strategies that are exclusively found in the hipster cities of Central Europe? Is it because we are putting more floors on the buildings along the “transport corridors”? Maybe our number plates should reflect these government innovations. “Canberra – The vibrant territory”. I mean, what exactly makes it so vibrant? It certainly isn’t the design or colour of the buildings, the number of trees planted around the place or the happy smiles of the shoppers dashing around, quickly gathering their products before the free two hour parking is expired. Maybe it is the fluorescent orange, temporary barricade fencing used to envelop construction sites and roadworks that seem to take forever to complete. Perhaps the colourful language and arm signals used by pedestrians and Canberra drivers every time a cyclist encroaches their part of the transport infrastructure.

As for the question why people leave Canberra, these are my thoughts.
Recreation. Where can you go for a swim in nice clear waters without paying through the nose and getting chlorine in your pores? You can go to the coast or the mountains to find fresh, non-polluted fun. It beats the green algae and murky brown of our local watering holes. Aquatic activities like water skiing, jet skis and tubes aren’t available anywhere locally except for Lake Burrinjuck, also an hour’s drive away.
Whilst on the subject of water, fishing is virtually non-existent here [certainly not if you want to eat any of it], but a hop-skip and jump away you have the abundance of estuaries and ocean, or the alpine lakes for something more relaxing.
As for shopping, I don’t really know as we don’t buy much more than the bare essentials. However, even within Canberra I have noticed I have to go to the larger shopping centers to buy some products from the same brand of store we have locally, because the range is broader. It seems the myriad of shops sprouting up in the suburbs are limited on variety and they keep pulling stuff off the shelves, so I am forced to go further in to town to buy what I need. I think they have just spread themselves too thin and can’t maintain their stocks due to cost.

dungfungus 8:27 am 15 Jan 17

JC said :

gbates said :

JC said :

ChrisinTurner said :

We need a Mayor who has an interest in providing municipal services to the standards enjoyed in other Australian cities.

What you want services downgraded to match other jurisdictions?

I’m not sure about the jurisdictions you’re thinking of JC but in comparison to the parts of Australia I’ve lived in the municipal services in Canberra are the absolute worst.

ChrisinTurner may well have been thinking of things like the maintenance of public spaces, the provision of rubbish bins in public places, hard waste collection and green waste disposal opportunities. Perhaps he could have been thinking of public transport, although I’m not sure if that is classified as “municipal.”

There’s something else missing in Canberra, besides municipal services, but I can’t put my finger on just what it is. I don’t think it’s about shops as the OP discussed; I think Canberra has more than enough shops, especially shops in enormous closed-in shopping centres.

The rubbish gets removed weekly, recylcing fortnightly. Green waste yeah its coming.

Grass gets cut, roads get fixed.

Buses ok if you were to count them as municipal services our buses are as good as anywhere else (which maybe is not saying much I guess).

And shopping, yeah we have shopping centres, we also have group centres and local shops if that is your thing. Some have closed in older suburbs of course, but clearly because the shoppers have decided to shop where they think it is more convenient or cheaper. Could well be in the enormous enclosed malls, but if it is the people are making the choice.

That’s a fair assessment of Canberra but last year some of here in Tuggers missed 4 garbage collections and 2 recycling collections due to industrial action which was not a national emergency but it was inconvenient and no reduction in annual rates was made to compensate for this.

The roads are generally well maintained (the el-cheapo re-sealing has to stop however), the grass is cut and the empty busses pass like ships in the night.

You comments about “shoppers have decided to shop where they think it is more convenient or cheaper” are spot on but you should have dug a little deeper as this is impacting dramatically on Canberra’s small businesses’ future because we shoppers have gone online as it is cheaper and more convenient – we don’t have to seek and pay for parking for one thing. The risk of getting a traffic or parking fine just isn’t worth it.

Online shopping is having a dramatic effect on GST revenue also as still nothing has been done to collect it. I also have a suspicion that the apparent falling of imports reported in the latest balance of trade figures is due to the increase in online shopping which cannot be monitored as it avoids entry documentation (and GST).

At least GST will be collected on the new trams.

JC 4:07 pm 14 Jan 17

gbates said :

JC said :

ChrisinTurner said :

We need a Mayor who has an interest in providing municipal services to the standards enjoyed in other Australian cities.

What you want services downgraded to match other jurisdictions?

I’m not sure about the jurisdictions you’re thinking of JC but in comparison to the parts of Australia I’ve lived in the municipal services in Canberra are the absolute worst.

ChrisinTurner may well have been thinking of things like the maintenance of public spaces, the provision of rubbish bins in public places, hard waste collection and green waste disposal opportunities. Perhaps he could have been thinking of public transport, although I’m not sure if that is classified as “municipal.”

There’s something else missing in Canberra, besides municipal services, but I can’t put my finger on just what it is. I don’t think it’s about shops as the OP discussed; I think Canberra has more than enough shops, especially shops in enormous closed-in shopping centres.

The rubbish gets removed weekly, recylcing fortnightly. Green waste yeah its coming.

Grass gets cut, roads get fixed.

Buses ok if you were to count them as municipal services our buses are as good as anywhere else (which maybe is not saying much I guess).

And shopping, yeah we have shopping centres, we also have group centres and local shops if that is your thing. Some have closed in older suburbs of course, but clearly because the shoppers have decided to shop where they think it is more convenient or cheaper. Could well be in the enormous enclosed malls, but if it is the people are making the choice.

gbates 1:40 am 14 Jan 17

JC said :

ChrisinTurner said :

We need a Mayor who has an interest in providing municipal services to the standards enjoyed in other Australian cities.

What you want services downgraded to match other jurisdictions?

I’m not sure about the jurisdictions you’re thinking of JC but in comparison to the parts of Australia I’ve lived in the municipal services in Canberra are the absolute worst.

ChrisinTurner may well have been thinking of things like the maintenance of public spaces, the provision of rubbish bins in public places, hard waste collection and green waste disposal opportunities. Perhaps he could have been thinking of public transport, although I’m not sure if that is classified as “municipal.”

There’s something else missing in Canberra, besides municipal services, but I can’t put my finger on just what it is. I don’t think it’s about shops as the OP discussed; I think Canberra has more than enough shops, especially shops in enormous closed-in shopping centres.

JC 7:05 pm 12 Jan 17

ChrisinTurner said :

We need a Mayor who has an interest in providing municipal services to the standards enjoyed in other Australian cities.

What you want services downgraded to match other jurisdictions?

ChrisinTurner 10:47 am 12 Jan 17

We need a Mayor who has an interest in providing municipal services to the standards enjoyed in other Australian cities.

pink little birdie 4:20 pm 10 Jan 17

I would love Canberra theatre to be upgraded to have the major musicals.
Realistically this will require a new facility because the stage and back areas are too small at all the facilities in Canberra.
There is probably enough market for all the majors to do a 1-2 week run here.

We mainly travel for specific museum exhibits as well as they usually only go to Sydney, Melbourne or Canberra – some may go on to Adelaide but they are the majority.

I find most of the shopping in major city centres is same same now and shopping on the main streets of small country towns more enjoyable because their are often individual boutiques that source their products from smaller suppliers and so the items are more eclectic than what you get in chain stores – books, toys, homewares, kitchenware, clothes beauty products, foods.

RiotFrog 12:29 pm 10 Jan 17

Terrible traffic?
Air pollution?

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