Three years ago, Chisholm Village proposed a Maccas on the site of the local tavern. Naturally, this caused a stir.
“Noooo,” wailed people. It’s a local meeting place for all, they said. A hub where boy has met girl and children frolic. Where a pool cue has never been lifted in anger. The issue of tip smells wafting across Tuggeranong may have even been solved at a table there. Well worth #saving, then.
It got dicey for a bit. But then, in a heroic effort that had all the ingenuity of the FBI getting Al Capone on a tax charge, the ACT Government refused to sell the toilet block next to the tavern, which killed the project.
It’s a year on from that and a cold wind is blowing dead leaves through Chisholm shops. There’s no tavern. There’s no Maccas. What there is, however, is a jab site of a toilet block 50 metres away from one that has soap. This is what you did.
And I have no doubt you’re about to do it again.
Clearly, Chisholm Village Pty Ltd – which owns the site – is not to be put off. It’s now proposed a KFC across from the ALDI, which to me sounds uncontroversial. It’s KFC. The ads themselves tell us KFC is the great unifier: “did somebody say?” would resolve even UN Security Council disputes. And yet from the Facebook comments I’ve been seeing, I’ve got a sinking feeling we’re in for round two of vocal Tuggeranong firebrands chaining themselves to a dank cistern: “NOT ON MY TOILET BLOCK!”
I decided to look closer. What’s more important than easy KFC?
The other eateries at Chisholm shops, some say. Yes, there’s Lisa’s Chinese, there’s my favourite takeaway that always throws in two scallops when you ask for one, a Subway, a cafe up by CJ’s the butcher, a Thai restaurant, and I swear I saw a pizza place there recently.
Essentially, Chisholm’s turning into a more pleasant version of Erindale’s Gartside Street, which – correct me if I’m wrong here – didn’t die when Macca’s moved in.
In fact, the sooner Chisholm Shops is known as a food and drink precinct, the better it will be for literally everyone involved. And everyone knows you’re not a real food court until you’ve got a KFC or a Maccas.
The parking at Chisholm Shops is already fraught, say yet others; imagine what manner of chaos will ensue when you have to factor in a dozen Ford Territories constipating a drive-thru. But let’s be clear about this. The KFC is going to be plonked on a car park that is usually so empty you could legally rename it Detroit. Half of it’s allocated to a car washing business – which, no offence to the business in question – is like having a sewing room and a study in your house.
And so what if the street between ALDI and KFC ends up a bit busy at noon on a Saturday? Name one worthwhile hub in Canberra that isn’t? Erindale’s McBryde banks up occasionally. You sometimes have to wait for people on Anketell Street. If you want dead quiet, shop at Richardson.
There’s another cruel aspect of this I haven’t touched on. I think you’re actually like my mum. Whenever the family went on road trips to Sydney, she’d fight the Maccas pitstop tooth and nail before absolutely loving her McChicken.
If by some miracle we get this KFC – if no one prays for the divine intervention of Mick Gentleman to save a bin or a bus shelter – you’re going to love it.
You’ll be in that drive-thru, not dabbling in the spoils of a victory you made harder than it needed to be, so much as taking home a massive filthy bucket of it.