Once the ACT’s Nappy Valley, the people of the Tuggeranong Valley have long suspected they’ve been forgotten by the Assembly as the city expands in other directions and their demographics change.
Tonight, the Tuggeranong Community Council will hold its election forum in partnership with the RiotACT, focussing on planning, transport and infrastructure, but also the generational lull that’s affecting local schools and the severe air quality issues experienced during the Black Summer of bushfires.
Ten local politicians vying for the seat of Brindabella will attend the COVID-safe forum, which will be held online via Zoom, with a limited live audience in the Tuggeranong Vikings Club.
Community Council president Jeff Bollard says that election issues like costs of living, government charges rates and fees will also be discussed at the forum, but points to some of the specific problems that affect Tuggeranong locals.
“We suffered critical air quality issues due to surrounding bush fires and direct threats from local bush fires last summer,” he says, citing the heavy pall of smoke hanging over the community for weeks.
Tuggeranong residents have always battled with wood smoke during winter, but the Orroral Valley fire created a whole new raft of problems.
“In addition to addressing long-term climate change, we’re asking the ACT Government what action will be taken to improve air quality caused by fires in surrounding NSW and local within the ACT,” Jeff says.
Transport has always been a sore point: the majority of Tuggeranong residents commute from the valley for work and most use private cars. That calls into question the quality and capacity of the major roads and how accessible and affordable parking is at their destination.
But the Council also wants government to put more effort into public transport. Specifically, they’d like performance-based services that consider door-to-door commute time, safety and affordability.
“Current bus services don’t address last kilometres of trips and active transport isn’t a good fit for many, due to the distances and abilities of users,” Jeff says.
As the average age of Tuggeranong residents has changed, school and education facilities are also ageing. The Council is concerned about both retaining and refurbishing schools. They’re anxious about media reports of schools closures and consolidations, the accessibility of quality education within walking range of home and the future of the Greenway CIT.
Renewal of public spaces and the need to feel safe are also on the Council’s agenda, and planning as always is at the forefront of local concerns. That ranges from broad-based issues around integrated planning to allow access and equity to specific local issue about green space and the nature of suburban development.
“Public housing relocated to Tuggeranong needs to be close to public transport, schools and other facilities so that tenants don’t need multiple cars, and the planning rules need to be followed,” Jeff says.
The Tuggeranong Community Council election forum for Brindabella begins at 7:30 pm and you can join online here.