It was while visiting regional towns in Victoria that I was reminded of quite silly events happening back home, or at least close to home.
Today, as we had finished work early for the day, we wandered along the riverfront in Wangaratta. Given the works underway and the notices about future projects, it is very obvious that this local council, like many local governments, takes its public responsibilities very seriously.
The Wangaratta City council has invested in many improvements to see the riverside become a very attractive place to visit. There are cafes backing onto the river and loads of scenery to be enjoyed via an extensive network of walking paths and several new pedestrian bridges.
Visitors love to spend time along these riverside areas, especially on a beautiful sunny day as it was today.
The council has also undertaken major upgrades to the main streets. Gauging by the work I saw today, this is an ongoing effort. The streetscapes have a very friendly feel to them — in short, they look great. This can be said of numerous regional towns in Victoria.
All these enhancements and additions must be a great thing for locals. They must feel as though their city has lots to offer, has a welcoming ambiance, and is an even better place to live, work and play.
Which brings me back to a puzzling situation going on in Queanbeyan.
The Queanbeyan mayor had pushed ahead with enhancing Crawford Street and was now to move onto improving other streets and upgrade the riverside parklands.
The mayor, Tim Overall, is to be congratulated for having such a commitment to his city.
Unfortunately, the mayor is now being attacked by other council members who want to see these projects terminated and for the funds to be invested in a cinema.
This begs the question: Shouldn’t a cinema be a private venture, not one undertaken by the council? These people have weird ideas about the role of the city council. Or is there something more devious at play here?
As has been proven time and time again internationally, townships that improve public amenities can better attract people to live in the city. Such projects also provide for improved quality of life for residents as they encourage people to get out and enjoy themselves.
Such improvements and benefits await the people of Queanbeyan if the mayor is allowed to get on with his initiatives.
As with any committee, be it a city council or even a professional or volunteer association, there can come a time when those on the committee, or council, somehow get it in their heads to start doing some very silly things. It seems that this is what is happening in Queanbeyan right now.
It remains a possibility that the short-sighted ones within the council could win out. However with any luck common sense could return and the city may see overdue creative enhancements to its public places and parklands.
Whatever the problems are within the council, I am sure the people of Queanbeyan, who would love to see their city looking even more inviting, are watching how these unfortunate and time-wasting episodes play out.
Back here in Canberra, we can only observe these crazy events and hope for the best for our friends across the border.