A lack of information and an unwillingness of planning directorate officials to front public meetings is hampering the community consultation for the draft Territory Plan and the proposed District Strategies.
Inner South Canberra Community Council chair Marea Fatseas said that despite the consultation being extended after community pressure from 14 February until 3 March, the community was still being starved of essential information and not able to quiz officials.
Ms Fatseas said EPSDD maps in the planning documents were too small for people to scrutinise but a request for high-resolution maps as far back as November had come to nought.
A reply from EPSDD sighted by Region says that it is still in the process of preparing higher resolution maps for all nine district strategies.
“I will arrange for copies of the particular maps requested to be made available to you once they are ready,” it says.
But Ms Fatseas said the council had hoped to use them at its public forum on Tuesday night (7 February), and she had even resorted to overlaying one of the maps onto a street directory.
“We’re expected to work with tiny maps to give inner south residents an idea of how they may be affected,” Ms Fatseas said.
“I’ve even managed to get a bit of an idea of the implications by overlaying Figure 36 in the draft Inner South District Strategy over a map from a street directory in less than one day, yet EPSDD hasn’t been able to do it since my original request in late November.
“Clearly, the government isn’t really interested in what residents have to say.”
She said the Have Your Say information session in November at the Narrabundah Community Centre was cancelled because of a power cut but not rescheduled.
Two pop-up information stalls where people are supposed to provide feedback in Manuka and Narrabundah on 13 and 14 February respectively had also been scheduled in business hours from 10 am to 2 pm when most people would be at work.
Ms Fatseas said the government had been working on this for three years yet could not furnish maps that people could read so they understood how the proposed changes might affect them.
“The complexity of what they’re proposing is massive,” she said.
“They’re asking us to comment on all these things in these little maps that don’t show even the streets and yet they talking about large Future Investigation areas from Canberra Avenue pretty well nearly to Griffith shops being up to three-storey apartment buildings and they’re talking about big areas on either side of Yarralumla and Deakin being up to three, sometimes six storeys.
“People have a right to know what the possible implications may be for them. They realise Canberra’s population is increasing and there is a need for affordable housing, and there should be a genuine process of working together on ways to achieve that.”
Ms Fatseas said the way the consultation was being conducted was unacceptable and went in the face of government promises that it would go to the people to fully explain what was being proposed.
“I’ve tried to work with them through all of this and they’re just trying to manage the whole thing so that they can get minimal community input before the deadline,” she said.