The ACT Government will allocate $1 million to suburban playgrounds in the upcoming Budget, with a Citizens’ Forum to decide how it will be spent as part of the next phase of the Better Suburbs consultation program.
The Government says the planning of Canberra’s future city services, including playgrounds, will now be placed in the hands of 65 members of the community and community organisations, after the results of the first stage of the Better Suburbs consultation, held in late 2017, were released on Wednesday (23 May).
The Government says Better Suburbs is aimed at setting the vision and priorities for the improved delivery of city services in the ACT for the next four years and beyond, in the form of a Better Suburbs Statement.
Minister for Transport and City Services Meegan Fitzharris said the first stage of consultation showed access to shopping precincts, access to parks, safe and connected footpaths, maintained trees and shrubs, and maintained and connected roads were priorities for Canberrans.
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She said 40 members of the community, who represent Canberra’s demographic profile, and another 25 from community organisations would take part in the Citizens’ Forum during July and August.
“During this process, they will speak to government, industry and non-government representatives about how we can plan for the right mix of city services for Canberra into the future,” Ms Fitzharris said.
She said $1.9 million would be set aside in the Budget for local community upgrades, $1 million of which must be spent on playgrounds, and the Citizens’ Forum would be asked how this money should be spent.
“Playgrounds are a recognised priority in the Better Suburbs program. They were listed by the community as a top five feature, with the quality of playgrounds valued more than how many there are in each suburb,” she said.
“With over 500 playgrounds across Canberra competing for investment, I’m keen to work with the Citizens’ Forum on a new approach to playground investment that more closely involves the community in the process.”
The Minister said work would begin on projects after the Better Suburbs Statement was released in September 2018.
Ms Fitzharris said other members of the community would be able to participate in ‘kitchen table conversations’ with a Better Suburbs Guide to be available next month that families, community groups and other stakeholders will be able to download and use to discuss the delivery of city services, and help the Citizens’ Forum make decisions.
Invitations will be sent to 4000 households in coming weeks, inviting people to take part in the Citizens’ Forum, a deliberative democracy process run by democracyCo, and participants will receive $250 for taking part.
A report on the results from the first stage of the Better Suburbs consultation is now available on the Your Say website at www.yoursay.act.gov.au/bettersuburbs.