28 September 2010

Self-selected agents of outrage doing the business on a facebook emote

| johnboy
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Anyone who operates at all in the public sphere has to put up single issue nuts, blinkered and monomaniacal looking to do, without conscious thought, great evil in pursuit of some small narrow good of interest to them.

On September 23 The Minister for Planning Andrew Barr had a private little vent on his Facebook page, without naming names.

I saw it go up, figured he’d had a bad day, and left it at that.

But the Canberra Times today has the Dickson Residents Group in high dudgeon.

Dickson Residents Group spokeswoman Marie Coleman said yesterday that Mr Barr had misrepresented the views of the group.

”One of the main purposes of the DRG is to start a serious and respectful conversation amongst Dickson residents, the Government, and ACTPLA as well as other groups who have an interest in planning and development across the suburb,” MsColeman said.

This town desperately needs more dwellings. There are huge numbers of people who do want to live in one and two bed units.

I grew up in Dickson and I’m with Andrew Barr on this one.

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I thought Clancies was a going concern when it was closed down, despite minimal attention from the owner. I also heard on the grapevine years ago that the owner of Canberry Fair openly admitted he was not going to maintain any of the buildings.

With all the people of gungahlin just up the road, Canberry Fair and Clancies could have been lovely, with the cute buildings and grassy hills. The much tackier concrete village Gold Creek in Nicholls does amazingly well.

Of course people need houses, but people also need local shops and entertainment. I just don’t agree that every last bit of dickson, downer and watson should be turned into units, with all those people driving to the Canberra Centre every day for movies and shopping.

Drive-ins are making a comeback in other towns – ours won’t be back though!

Sorry, screwed up the tags pretty badly. Stupid iPad.

30january1649 said :

P1 said: “If a business is not viable it should go broke, then the land would become available to another business. The land should *NOT* be rezoned. The owner should have to sell it based on it being used for some community benefiting purpose.

At the very least, if no one can make a go at it, the government should buy it back at it’s community/recreational use value, then they could reap the financial gain of a rezoning.”

Cool let’s leave Canberry Fair/Australia Park and Clancy’s rotting out there waiting for yet another attempt by an operator. Let’s go sit in the drive in and look at the blank screen (or state sponsored films perhaps?)

Do you seriously want to pay tax to run rusting hulks that no one wants to use when it could go to stuff that matters?

No, that isn’t ideal. On the other hand, I kinda hate it when a commercial site sits vacant for the minimal period necessary, then is rezoned and rebuilt as apartments. I am all for urban infill, but I don’t see urban infill as being a process where all non-residential space is converted to medium density. That process ups the density while decreasing the density of services. While population density increases, it should become easier to run entertainment and service businesses. So those sites might be needed again.

Seriously – the place has to change. People are living on one of those sites and will live on the other.

Canberra is a much better town now – cos its bigger with more people – than when i came here more than 20 years ago.

30january16496:57 pm 29 Sep 10

P1 said: “If a business is not viable it should go broke, then the land would become available to another business. The land should *NOT* be rezoned. The owner should have to sell it based on it being used for some community benefiting purpose.

At the very least, if no one can make a go at it, the government should buy it back at it’s community/recreational use value, then they could reap the financial gain of a rezoning.”

Cool let’s leave Canberry Fair/Australia Park and Clancy’s rotting out there waiting for yet another attempt by an operator. Let’s go sit in the drive in and look at the blank screen (or state sponsored films perhaps?)

Do you seriously want to pay tax to run rusting hulks that no one wants to use when it could go to stuff that matters?

Seriously – the place has to change. People are living on one of those sites and will live on the other.

Canberra is a much better town now – cos its bigger with more people – than when i came here more than 20 years ago.

Hi all

Thank you for all the feedback on my comments. I was trying to be balanced in what I said, and to point out what I saw as driving the current pressures facing the city.

@Trainee Diplomat, Freddyp, and damien haas – thanks ;D
And damien, I agree with what you say about Molonglo, we seem to be repeating mistakes made at Gungahlin.

@nhand42 – It’s also good to hear an opposing point of view, and on reflection, I think you have a point. I don’t think it’s completely black and white, but my original post reads like that now I’ve had a good night’s sleep (blush). I would say, however, that there is some danger of the things I mention happening – and that the ACT Government is in fact awake to it.

I think our demographics are about to shift in a way we haven’t seen before. Compared to the prior 80 years, our family sizes and fertility rates are much lower, and within 5 years we will see large numbers of retiring public servants, due to the 55/11 rule. Lifestyles have also changed, so we now have far fewer people per household than previously, but we appear to need more space per person.

Much of Canberra (and Australia’s) growth is predicated on the idea that immigrants will continue to pour in here. However, given the current signals our nation sends about refugees, and what appears in some regions of Australia to be a “we’re full” attitude, can we assume that migrants of any sort will feel welcome here?

Further to this, many countries around the world are currently trying to devalue their currencies to maintain a competitive edge. If this behaviour doesn’t look like what happened in the 1930’s, then what does? My point here is that we cannot simply assume that growth will continue forever – with consequences for immigration if it doesn’t.
There may come a day soon when the standards of living and job opportunities are better for foreign students elsewhere, and the standards of living higher, than what Australia offers.

I read something about Wagga Wagga the other day – stating that by 2026, 20% of its population will be over 65. If even half of that group need care of various levels, that’s around 10,000 people out of an estimated population of 70,000. If the percentage level for Canberra is similar (and I’m not sure if that’s true), we are looking at a need for maybe 40,000 aged care beds and the like. At present, that industry (nationwide) is not building new facilities because the returns are not there.

So,what would Canberra look like if we needed to find that many beds? Many older Canberrans would (understandably) wish to continue living in their own homes. But is this viable in many cases – are Canberra properties built to a standard that allows for reduced mobiility? What happens in those suburbs where the shops are too far away for people with reduced mobility to walk to?

And then I come back to my original point – where do we find the staff to help to look after 40,000 aged care patients? Would not providing higher density housing help to kill two birds with one stone? It would allow aged care units to be built close to facilities, and possibly for staff to live within walking distance of work as well.

I agree with you that our current policies are failing in many ways, and that developers have a lot to answer for. Having said that, part of the problem is that the regulations encourage them to build down to a price, rather than with a holistic approach – and the zoning appears to be piecemeal rather than broad-based.

@sepi – I agree, I don’t necessarily want wall-to-wall apartments either, especially if they are poorly built and oriented. I would like to see houses with heritgae value protected, and (maybe) to make it easier to build renovations and granny flats, etc, that make better use of existing land.

One example of good urban design is the New Acton precinct. Unfortunately it’s far too expensive for most people, but they have tried to design the land to allow for a mosiac of uses (residential, retail and offices) on the one site.To me, this is what the city needs more of – it would mean that other new developments do not simply bulldoze existing amenities but complement them.

@KB1971 – I love Canberra too, for many of the same reasons you mention. I’ve been here a few years, and don’t want to leave, which is why I am passionate about the city’s future. I definitely do NOT want us to become too much like Sydney and Melbourne. I like the fact that we have leafy,tree-lined streets, and I like some of the older housing. I REALLY like the Melbourne and Sydney buildings, as well as Albert Hall, and wish we had more new buildings of their level of character. I agree, too, that some cities elsewhere are dismally planned.

I’ve also heard the people who whine about Canberra, and my (initial) attitude to them is often, “why don’t you go home then?”. But it is often these people with their skills and ideas we are losing, so while I may not agree with them, I feel I should at least listen to their point of view.

As for your suggestion of “Canberra is what you make of it” – spot on. If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t be typing this stuff to see what I can help to make of Canberra 😉

But there are parts of Canberra that are pretty boring, where the houses do not vary much, and do not add to the city’s style. All I am suggesting is that we need to balance the various demands on our city – trying to keep what we hold dear, and letting go of what limits our ability to improve things.

As for ACTION, I catch it daily. Because I live along one of the trunk routes, I find it really good. But off the trunk routes, it’s often not convenient, and very slow (try getting a direct bus between Belconnen and Gungahlin that takes less than 45 minutes).

If we could build light rail in various places, I think the housing market would respond to that rapidly with both higher land values and higher density.

sepi said :

Jim – I think you’d be surprise just how many units are being built all through Dickson. I was amazed when I went through the back streets this year. It has totally changed in only a couple of years.

I’m aware that it’s becoming quite built up, and I think it’s a good thing. Dickson is a great area for high density: lots of restaurants and cafes, not too far from the city. Further development around the area would probably see the area become even more of a cosmopolitan hub, who knows, perhaps even with a lively nightlife. The place has got a good feel and only gets more lively with development (properly done, of course)

Much better to have high density development take place in centres like Dickson, Belconnen and Civic than to move it to more solely ‘suburban’ areas without the services to support it.

Complaining about increased density in areas like this isn’t much more than pissing into the wind IMHO.

Without change we shrivel and die.

Jim – I think you’d be surprise just how many units are being built all through Dickson. I was amazed when I went through the back streets this year. It has totally changed in only a couple of years.

p1 said :

KB1971 said :

With regards to public transport, Action buses do a pretty good job considering the distances that they have to travel.

Most of your post is at least partly valid. I disagree with this bit whole heartedly. Not saying I could run it any better, just say’in.

See for me it works well, 40 minutes in the morning & arv on the express & I can take my bike on the 3 series if i want. Its convenient for me but I do realise that if i worked in Fyshwick it would be inconvenient.

I am not sure any public transport is totally convenient in any city in OZ.

I realise most of my post is not valid to the OP but I had to have a say about Ryoma’s post, I just could not let it lie. 🙂

KB1971 said :

Give me leafy Canberra anyday.

I was unaware that building some one-bedroom units in Dickson would make all the trees die.

KB1971 said :

With regards to public transport, Action buses do a pretty good job considering the distances that they have to travel.

Most of your post is at least partly valid. I disagree with this bit whole heartedly. Not saying I could run it any better, just say’in.

30january1649 said :

So all we need is a mechanism to force businesses to stay viable…Da Comrade!…The Russians kinda made it work…between 1922 and 1991 – but gee a lot of people got shot or starved.

If a business is not viable it should go broke, then the land would become available to another business. The land should *NOT* be rezoned. The owner should have to sell it based on it being used for some community benefiting purpose.

At the very least, if no one can make a go at it, the government should buy it back at it’s community/recreational use value, then they could reap the financial gain of a rezoning.

Ryoma, so of your points are valid but I ask this, why must Canberra change for young people?

I moved here at the age of 20 (now 39) & I have loved it. Canberra had good nightlife then & I have made the best of what the place has to offer, cyling, fishing, 4wd’ing, motorcycling, camping, snow, close to the coast & now a career in the Aust Government. We live in an outdoors playground with pretty good employment prospects.

We have a few guys here at work who hate the place, all middle aged, they have only been here a bit over 5 years & come from larger cities (2 from Melbourne). My god do they go on about how stale the place is & how boring, nothing to do, the public service is crap blah, blah.

CANBERRA IS WHAT YOU MAKE IT & why does it have to be the same as Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane ect. Isnt that a tad boring??

As stated in other threads the building industry has a hold on the Government with regards to planning & they are getting rich from it.

With regards to public transport, Action buses do a pretty good job considering the distances that they have to travel (I personally travel 30km) & the local shopping centre is only 2km walk from my home. This should be no problem for any able bodied “young” person.

I personally like the planning in Canberra, I have mixed emotions of urban infill as it goes against the original plan of the city, we need medium density housing & its a shame that the inner suburbs ar succumbing to it.

I am often amazed at the piss poor planning of other cities where schools are next to industial areas that are next to residential areas in the same suburb.

Give me leafy Canberra anyday.

30january16498:31 am 29 Sep 10

So all we need is a mechanism to force businesses to stay viable…Da Comrade!…The Russians kinda made it work…between 1922 and 1991 – but gee a lot of people got shot or starved.

No, we need to revoke the leases when owners choose not to stick to their lease purpose and let someone else have a go.

30january16494:11 am 29 Sep 10

Sepi says: “We have lost the drive-in, the mini-golf, canberry fair, clancies tavern, and now the observatory. All for units.”

Drive in – privately owned…unviable
Mini-golf – privately owned…unviable
Canberry Fair – privately owned…unviable
Clancy’s Tavern – privately owned…unviable
the observatory – privately owned…unviable

Do we really want a city of rusting hulks?

“Viability” is a slippery concept when the owners think they can re-zone if they let the business run down having been granted a lease at a discount to operate community amenity,

I think many people believe they will lose money/value from their property due to infilling – their house is now worth less (because who wants to live in a house surrounded by apartments or townhouses) and they dont get any benefit from these changes, only the downside (loss of money plus loss of amenity etc). You might say ‘but their land value is increased’, but that is of little use if you have a $500k house built on the land, which is now worth much less than the land value increase (because no one wants to live there) and if you dont want to (or cant afford to) become a property developer yourself.

The second issue is people having moved into areas that have now been re-zoned worrying about moving again (to ‘escape’ the higher density) but now believing there is a risk that their new house will again be re-zoned. Just ask all those people who live near shopping centres discovering they can now have 8+ townhouses built on what used to be a single block, fearing that the ‘medium density’ zone will be changed again, maybe to 400m from the shops or along ‘major’ roads or whatever the government decides in 5 years time.

So money and uncertainty.

Not sure how to deal with it. I can think of some ‘money’ solutions eg revalue the land upwards by quite a lot, but say that the rates remain low while it is a single dwelling/not changed from current dwelling. Not that this encourages infilling, it just gives some benefit to people affected by zoning changes.

Interesting points Ryoma. But for mine, wall to wall apartments does not make for a vibrant place that young trendies would love.

Demolishing all former ‘entertainment’ precincts in the dickson area and building units all over them does not make for vibrant city living. We have lost the drive-in, the mini-golf, canberry fair, clancies tavern, and now the observatory. All for units.

Even if those venues had had their day, the land should have been retained for community purposes, not walled off for more and more units.

sexynotsmart7:35 pm 28 Sep 10

Storm in a teacup. I call troll.

John Moulis said :

I have to wonder what magical property you need to have in order to be anointed as one of his FB friends.

I think you have to be an actual friend or someone he accepted before setting up his official Andrew Barr FB page. He posted about this back when he first set up his page.

Ryoma said :

If we want to attract young people to our service industries (and in general), we have to offer them lifestyle and housing options they can afford, and want to stay here for.
The alternative is turning Canberra into a museum where young people leave, and businesses and society as a whole, suffer.

Utter nonsense. So the only alternative to “attracting young people” is “turning into a museum”? Sophomoric tripe; it paints the world in black and white. There are more alternatives than the two you offer; one where we “suffer” and one where we “attract young people”. What a load of cobblers.

Canberra survived for 80 years without losing its character as the Bush Capital. Only recently have we suffered this curse of suburban in-filling, high-density housing, high-density apartments, and ridiculously over-engineered roads (e.g. multi-lane monster highways, spaghetti junctions, and intersections large enough to land aeroplanes). It’s all the trappings of Sydney and Melbourne being forced onto Canberra.

For 80 years businesses didn’t “suffer” and young people didn’t “leave”. That was at least 3 generations of families. So how exactly does your hypothesis stand even the most casual scrutiny? What makes this generation so damn special that we are at a “crossroads”?

I think it’s no surprise that the wholesale destruction of Canberra occurred at roughly the same time that Local Government was forced upon us. Local governments make money from rates and taxes, which are increased with population and higher density, and politicians measure success by the size of their portfolios. Land developers don’t give a shit if they destroy the city so long as they make fistfuls of money, and politicians are all too eager to facilitate them.

Don’t get me started on the travesty that is Gungahlin.

Ryomas post is very well argued. The future of Canberra is increased density, but therein lies the dilemma – increased density but none of the increased facilities or infrastructure this density requires. We see in Molonglo planning a repetition of Gungahlin under-investment in appropriate roads and public transport. Inner Canberra is also groaning at the seams under this requirement to drive everywhere.

The answers are:
1 sound long term planning
2 open transparent planning objectives that all residents can see
3 transit oriented development
4 light rail linking population and employment centres

The Traineediplomat said :

#10 Roma,

I think this is the best, most well balanced post I’ve ever read here. Kudos to you, +1 and other internet forum plaudits.

Seconded. Well said, Ryoma.

The Traineediplomat4:29 pm 28 Sep 10

#10 Roma,

I think this is the best, most well balanced post I’ve ever read here. Kudos to you, +1 and other internet forum plaudits.

While I’m not pleased at a Minister who is silly enough to put his private opinions up on a social media website, I can understand his frustration. I imagine Mr. Barr is feeling the heat from both sides on many of these issues, and naturally every decision made is going to have people who don’t like it.

I think that essentially there is a clash between 2 groups of people who value different things, and stemming from this, want a different Canberra.

One one side, the various residents groups are often made of people who have lived in their suburbs and houses long-term. They have worked hard to establish gardens, and perhaps lobbied and worked to get local infrastructure built. As a result of their hard work (along with many other people in both public and private sectors), much of Canberra is an attractive place to live.

Understandably, they value the look and feel of the communities that have developed organically over time as a result of these decisions, and feel compelled to defend the investment they have made in time and effort towards these places.

On the flip side is the large number of people who arrive in Canberra annually, attracted by the job opportunities, the strong economy, and the lifestyle offered. Among these are something in the order of 1000 public sector graduates, and similar (larger?) numbers of Defence staff and tertiary students.

This second group is diverse, but are often (not always) young, and from larger cities. While they appreciate the natural beauty of Canberra, they are frustrated at the need to drive everywhere, and the lack of urban culture across much of the city. Because of their exposure to higher density living elsewhere, they don’t regard it with horror, but as a way of life that offers benefits as well as costs. They would like to have housing choices which reflect this, which are within walking distance of services, and with some feeling of “action”.

And herein lies the rub. The Government is trying to encourage infill development and higher density without having a clear aim of where and how it wants to achieve a balance between these 2 different Canberras. One side is made up of many wealthy older Canberrans who live in the same areas most suited to infill, and one which is politically savvy and united.

On the other hand is a largely transient workforce (again, not all) who often leave Canberra because they get fed up with waiting for their type of city lifestyle to appear here (among other reasons). Many of this group are frustrated by the status quo, but beyond complaining to each other, are not united, and so remain largely silent.

But the ACT Government realises how important much of this workforce is, which is part of why there is a “Live in Canberra” campaign. These transient workers and students provide Canberra with many of the staff to our service industries: from hospitality, the casino, hotel staff, office cleaners,aged care workers, retail…the list goes on. Given that such people often do not want to live out in the sticks, and definitely not to buy out there (in large part because even new housing estates are beyond their financial reach), they need to be accomodated somewhere.

So the city is at a crossroads. In the next few years, many Baby Boomers will retire, requiring more people to fill their vacant jobs. At present we already have skills shortages in some fields, and part of this is due to people not feeling the daily commute is worth getting poorly paid for. Our public transport is struggling, with the argument being that our population is not high enough to support it (despite Edinburgh, with 400,000 people, not much bigger, bringing back trams and light rail).

We need, as a city, to have this conversation. Canberra cannot remain the bush capital in all suburbs – some places are going to have to get much higher density to take the pressure off our remaining green spaces and leafy streets. This does mean that the city’s character will change, with both positive and negative effects flowing from that (and such effects being viewed subjectively, depending upon one’s point of view).

If we want to attract young people to our service industries (and in general), we have to offer them lifestyle and housing options they can afford, and want to stay here for.
The alternative is turning Canberra into a museum where young people leave, and businesses and society as a whole, suffer. Not to mention that everyday life will get harder without them – how many APS5’s or above would want to work in (for example) aged care, no matter what it paid?

To what extent do we sacrifice the future to satisfy the present, or vice-versa?

Nice Title 😀

bd84 said :

I’m outraged at a half wit by the name of Andrew Barr continually misusing his power to approve developments without addressing legitimate concerns of the public. Take a look at the ANU project that he approved ignoring community groups and the major traffic and parking issues. While I understand the need to ignore some peoples continued baseless objections, he seems to use the powers with no rhyme or reason. By the way I’m still waiting for the official response from ACTPLA, but I guess they’re not allowed to write “the minister is a moron” in an email.

Was that ANU project approved by Barr or Corbell? Of course it was approved – it improved the value of nearby property owned by the Labor Club!

“This town desperately needs more dwellings. “

No it doesn’t. It needs fewer people. There are too many people, too many roads, and too much sprawl.

The people who want inner-city living can fark off back to Sydney and Melbourne.

I’m outraged at a half wit by the name of Andrew Barr continually misusing his power to approve developments without addressing legitimate concerns of the public. Take a look at the ANU project that he approved ignoring community groups and the major traffic and parking issues. While I understand the need to ignore some peoples continued baseless objections, he seems to use the powers with no rhyme or reason. By the way I’m still waiting for the official response from ACTPLA, but I guess they’re not allowed to write “the minister is a moron” in an email.

On the planning issue – Strangely enough I know of four separate families (with 2 or more children) who live in Kingston and Braddon, in appartments / townhouses. Whereas my fiance and I have to live in a house because we have a 13year old dog, and no children.

Canberra needs to wipe their planning slate clean and start again.

Yes we do need more dwellings – of all sizes and shapes and prices – and in ALL areas!

I sure am glad the Canberra Times doesn’t report every halfwit drunken rant I post on Facebook.

John Moulis said :

Barr’s musings on Facebook are starting to make him look foolish.

He doesnt need to be on FB to look foolish, a few years ago when the Rally of Canberra was in financial trouble & were looking to the ACT Government for help he slammed them but a few days later he was handing out money hand & foot to the AFL to host games here without even a thought that the ROC also brings money into the ACT community.

He lost all credibility for me that day.

I’m generation X/Y, have no children AND I actually want a yard. He can’t speak for me.

On the other hand, the ACT Government believes we need urban infill. Call a spade a spade; don’t attack the existing community.

Barr’s musings on Facebook are starting to make him look foolish. This is the second time the CT has printed an uncomplimentary article about his postings. And what was that bizarre follow-up post consisting of the long word from Mary Poppins supposed to mean? I have to wonder what magical property you need to have in order to be anointed as one of his FB friends. I’ve applied twice and been knocked back both times. Simon Corbell and Mark Parton approved me straight away.

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