Canberra’s waterways and stormwater system need urgent attention and suburban tree cover should be increased from the current 20 per cent target to 30 per cent with greater funding for planting and replacement, according to a blueprint for Canberra’s suburbs released today (18 September).
The ACT Government’s Better Suburbs Statement will guide Canberra’s suburban development and city services up to 2030 including the service priorities for the next four years.
It is the product of a year-long community consultation that used a deliberative democracy process including a number of Citizens Forums, where the vision for Canberra was for a green city that retained its Bush Capital values.
The Statement, which covers 14 service areas of Transport Canberra and City Services, also calls for household waste and recycling services to be expanded, including a bulky waste collection service and extension of the green waste service.
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The highest priority is greater servicing of the ACT’s lakes, ponds, wetlands and stormwater system, which need to be “future-proofed through a strategic increase in capital expenditure and operational funding to maintain assets and programs”.
The strategy should deliver improved water quality, capacity to deal with effects of climate change, capacity to manage stormwater run-off from densification, and less impacts on the ACT’s roads.
Capital works should focus on three key areas:
- Renewal of existing ageing infrastructure with naturalisation of waterways to support water quality, visual amenity, and management of stormwater flows;
- Water harvesting systems to support drought-proofing and as a revenue opportunity; and
- Improved street sweeping technologies.
The Statement says increasing tree cover is important in maintaining the Bush Capital legacy, but also for community health and wellbeing, environmental protection, and protecting against climate change.
It says TCCS should involve homeowners and body corporates in the planting and maintenance of their street trees, for example by granting new and replacement trees, providing horticulture programs in schools and at the library, and by partnering with community, schools and local Landcare groups to plant and grow new stock.
The Government should also return unused open spaces to urban forests, including underused ovals, although this may clash with its urban infill policies.
The statement recommends bulky waste collection be offered on set dates or on request, and expanding recycling drop-off points to allow certain bulky waste items.
TCCS should consider expanding the green waste collection service, including allowing households to put compostable material into green waste bins; mandating green waste/compost bins for all apartment complexes, and speeding up the roll-out of green waste bins across Canberra.
It should also consider providing worm farms and benchtop compost bins to households, and subsidising green waste/bulky waste collection services and resources for poorer residents, particularly public housing tenants.
As part of strategies to prevent illegal dumping, the Statement also recommends improved customer experience at recycling and waste centres, greater surveillance of hot spots, increased penalties and a review of tip fees.
The forums identified the need for TCCS to take a more wholistic approach to services, and for a better response to public concerns. It recommends greater engagement with the community on several levels to raise awareness of the services available to it, but there was a concern that the ‘My Canberra’ pamphlets were like political advertisements.
Other service areas covered in the Statement include Roads, Parks and Open Spaces; Library Services; Footpaths, Verges and Nature Strips; Graffiti and Community Engagement; Streetlights; Playspaces; Shopping Centre Experience; Responsible Pet Ownership; Community Ovals and Fitness Stations.
Minister for City Services, Chris Steel said the city’s rapid growth meant coordinated and efficient city services were needed to achieve as much as possible within existing resources.
“We also know how important it is to be responsive to community needs and expectations,” Mr Steel said. “A green and vibrant city in 2030 needs a renewed focus on delivering services for citizens that will enhance their experiences and sense of place.”
He said every stage of the Statement’s development had been informed or driven by the community.
“Community engagement started in September 2017 to develop a Better Suburbs Statement. In the first stage of engagement, we received 1242 individual survey responses. This was followed by Kitchen Table discussions and a Citizens Forum,” he said.
“The Better Suburbs Statement itself was written by the 54 participants of our Citizens Forum.
This was the first time Transport Canberra and City Services had used a deliberative democracy process to consult with the community.
“The Better Suburbs Statement isn’t just a map of priorities for how we deliver our City Services. It is a vision for making the most of the interconnected and integrated networks that can help bring our suburbs to life, and we will continue to partner with the community to implement the recommendations in this statement.”
The statement is now available online at www.yoursay.act.gov.au