Promises, promises … My head is spinning at the cornucopia of exciting building developments so far announced for Canberra.
There is a new on-site convention centre, a new stadium to replace Civic pool, the City to Lake unit extension over at West Basin and there is the tram.
The container park on the futsal slab has been completed while the upgrade of Constitution Avenue, a longer job than building Egypt’s pyramids, will doubtless keep the construction industry busy until others of the above come on line.
To date these grandiose plans all have been north of the lake so not to deny southside, the Manuka Green project has been proposed.
There are mixed views about these intentions.
Some people regard the plans as unnecessary extravagances. Some see the heavy concentration upon Civic as congestion madness and some fear the destruction of the Bush Capital for another largely soulless high rise metropolis.
Others endorse the direction which will see the city move into the 21st century, able to attract major conferences and sporting fixtures on a regular basis, turning Civic into the ‘vibrant’ centre it always should have been and providing jobs, jobs, jobs.
There is a common omission about most of these schemes: the ACT community has not been asked if they want them. Worse, there is no costing for most and vague guesstimates for a few.
Has anyone kept count of the financial cost of all these promises, proudly announced at regular intervals? Has anyone considered the social or environmental costs?
While the former is impossible to judge, save that the cost will be more than any estimate, some of the latter can be identified.
The concentration of so much in Civic raises the matter of parking and, whether or not we are all on public transport or bicycles, congestion must result from more people living in and visiting the area and the same applies to Manuka Green.
Why not relocate the new stadium and any other progressive development to the outer suburbs? We don’t need to be Civic-centric. Even an extra 20,000 residents accompanied by extra retail outlets will not save Civic’s existing shops, vacuumed up by the Canberra Centre.
Finally, jobs. This mantra is repeated with every new project but some common sense should be exercised. It is not the government’s responsibility to provide employment for all Canberra’s workers, thus reducing this special place to simply bricks and mortar.
An eye taken off election benefits would be welcomed.