Wanted in Gungahlin: MLAs who will be fierce advocates for the area and be accountable for their decisions.
That’s what’s missing from the current bunch, according to a frustrated Gungahlin Community Council president Peter Elford, who has been calling in vain for answers to issues and a plan for how and when the growing district will be completed.
The council has released its election wishlist and Mr Elford has launched into local MLAs for not doing enough for the people they represent and spouting the party line.
”The last time we saw obvious and genuine advocacy around getting Gungahlin’s needs ahead of other random projects was Meegan Fitzharris lobbying for road infrastructure,” he said.
”The MLAs don’t really care, particularly the Opposition’s. They don’t really care about what’s happening locally.”
He also blasted the government and its bureaucracy for its inability to act cohesively.
Mr Elford said the Town Centre needed jobs and more commerce, and the district needed to know where the rest of its community and sporting facilities will be sited, including playing fields, aged care and retirement homes.
“We’re just trying to point out that for a standard Canberra district, we’re not done. We are nowhere near done,” he said.
”And a lot of it is nothing to do with releasing more land, it’s where are you going to put all the things that are left?”
Mr Elford said he can’t get a cohesive plan from any of the agencies involved.
”If I ask any one of them, ‘who’s got the plan for when Gungahlin’s going to be finished and what’s going to go where?’ they all stare at the floor,” he said.
The council believed the government should be providing incentives or ”tilting the floor” for big employers to go to Gungahlin, much like the peppercorn rent the ACT Government is charging UNSW Canberra so it can develop a new campus in Reid.
”It [employment] clearly has a huge impact on everyone in Gungahlin, the amount of people moving out of Gungahlin every day to go to work, the vibrancy of businesses and the attractiveness of Gungahlin as a commercial centre,” he said.
Poor traffic flow and chaotic parking also bedevil the Town Centre, he said.
The council was also concerned about the rezoning of half the Town Centre for mixed-use residential development which begged the question about where the needed green space would go.
Mr Elford lashed Labor’s community centre announcement as nothing more than the re-announcement of an idea, with no site identified.
”Apparently, they have initiated a consultation inside EPSDD [the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate] to look at the needs, which is a desktop exercise and doesn’t involve talking to the community, which is an interesting way of approaching a community site,” he said.
Draft Variation 364 to the Territory Plan also talks about alternatives to allocating 6 ha of land for community facilities such as providing equivalent space in other buildings.
”How does that work?” Mr Elford asked.
He said transport and road congestion remain issues.
No major road projects had been started for two-and-a-half years, the last one being the duplication of Gundaroo Drive.
But space has been left for many roads to be duplicated. ”Why haven’t we started the planning?”
Despite Gungahlin’s growth, police resources were not keeping up.
”There has been no increase in the number of police or upgrades to the station for two decades and that just flies in the face of common sense,” he said.