Money has been locked in for the next stages of the Acton Waterfront project after the ACT Government allocated $35 million of funding over six years.
It’s part of a parks and places funding package worth more than $98 million which will be unveiled in the 2023/24 ACT Budget.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr said it was about making Acton the new lakeside destination for locals and tourists alike.
“The intent of this is to create a new major public park for Canberrans and a place that, in time, I think will be one of the favourite recreation destinations for Canberrans,” he said.
“It is going to be a place for people whereas, at the moment, a lot of this area has a higher rabbit population than it does usage by Canberrans and visitors.”
The project will continue years into the future, with this funding to develop the reclaimed land and amenity facilities before developments can begin, such as a proposed five-star hotel.
Tenders recently closed for a consultancy firm to plan and design the Acton Waterfront precinct, with Ngunnawal-inspired public art to form part of the development.
However, the reclaimed land needs to settle before there’s further construction activity.
“It’s just simply not possible or safe to undertake immediate construction on the reclaimed land. That’s a very clear engineering hurdle,” Mr Barr said.
“We’re delivering all the enabling infrastructure first, and then we’ll be progressively rolling out the mixed-use amenity. But it starts with the parks.”
The major new 30,000 sqm parkland will adjoin the completed boardwalk, which was previously extended by 500 metres.
The next stage of building is to bring more soil to the rockfill area, which will be allowed to settle for 12 to 18 months ahead of stormwater works and the park itself starting construction, all subject to National Capital Authority approval.
“This is not a project that is just going to appear overnight,” Mr Barr said.
Other projects are being funded as part of the package, including $25.5 million towards the City Precinct Renewal Program to make the City Centre, Acton, Braddon and Dickson attractive destinations for everyone.
A major upgrade is planned for Garema Place, which Mr Barr said was about creating a more modern and appealing dining and retail location in the heart of the city.
“We recognise these are iconic parts of our city centre, and we will be playing our part, together with the private sector, to make them better places for our people,” he said.
“It can be better, and that’s what we’re trying to achieve.”
Dickson shops will also be improved following consultation on draft designs set for late 2023.
Millions will also be spent on maintaining city services and improving sports and recreational facilities across the Territory.
The Yerrabi Pond District Park in Gungahlin will receive $3.2 million over two years for two new toilet facilities on both sides of the pond, new lighting right around, new picnic facilities on the southern side of the lake, and more parking on Phyllis Ashton Circuit.
In Belconnen, the Hawker Playing Fields will be upgraded with $1.3 million committed over two years.
The upgrades include additional parking, new and upgraded LED sports ground lighting at all three ovals for night-time training, new toilet facilities and female-friendly change rooms.
One of Canberra’s oldest parks, Telopea Park, will have new formalised paths, lighting and landscaping thanks to $492,000 in funding.
City Services Minister Chris Steel said this was all designed against a “wellbeing framework” to provide benefits for Canberrans.
“This is a very significant city services maintenance package in addition to the upgrades that we’re making to improve parks in Canberra,” he said.
“Our quality of life in Canberra is second to none, and we will continue to invest across the city in keeping our streets and parks looking good with recreational amenities that improve our community’s wellbeing.”
Canberra is home to more than 800,000 trees, and so $24.2 million will be invested to stand up 12 more staff to support more tree maintenance and planting across the city as part of the new Urban Forest Act.
Additional funding of $2.6 million will go to the rapid response mowing team, extending the program for another year, while $5.3 million will go towards improving the capacity of the stormwater network to better manage local flooding, including the design and construction of new stormwater infrastructure at the Kippax Group Centre.
This is the first of many pre-budget announcements. The 2023/24 ACT Budget will be handed down on 27 June.