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West Belco advocate slams state of playground

By Charlotte Harper - 3 February 2017 30

Higgins playground. Photo: Vanessa Jones

Former independent candidate for Ginninderra Vanessa Jones has called on the ACT Government to make basic improvements to a local playground in Higgins that features only a non-functioning bubbler and a swingset.

Ms Jones reckons it’s about time the ACT Government showed some love to the suburb of Higgins, an affordable suburb that is home to many young families living in older homes on larger blocks.

“I took some photos of my local area playground, in Hudson Street, Higgins,” Ms Jones wrote on Facebook this week.

“There is no longer a working water bubbler. This is what we get, in a seat where we have 3 out of 5 politicians as Labor. People say Canberra is one of the best cities in the world … Ummm.

“How about a working water bubbler, a picnic table and a slippery dip? There are many new families in this area, with young kids. If we can fund 2 tram lines, well, can we improve on this?”

Ms Jones said a local quality playground was a great social place for children and adults, and provided a space for healthy physical activity for kids of all ages.

Higgins playground. Photo: Vanessa Jones

Higgins playground. Photo: Vanessa Jones

“Surely, quality playgrounds have a value, in various ways?” she said.

“I was just chatting with a Higgins man about his attempt to improve a local playground. He contacted a Labor politician, who did not help him out. We share an area, and I’d like that playground upgraded too.

She says she once asked about improving this other playground, and was told that the ACT Government can’t afford to maintain each Canberra playground.

Ms Jones asked readers of her Facebook page, Canberra Ideas with Vanessa Jones, what they felt Higgins needed and received the following suggestions:

“Water park, BBQ park with bike or skate park, exercise circuit area in parks like at John Knight memorial park at Ginninderra. Flying fox, better paths, especially at the round about near Kingsford-Smith school crossing from Starke.”

“Replace the ageing street trees that are being removed, to keep our suburb leafy green, which improves values and liveability. I second the play space, and lovely big nature based playground would be amazing.”

One reader, David Green, posted a copy of a letter he’d sent to Ginninderra MLA and Deputy Labor Leader Yvette Berry:

Hello Ms Berry,

Thank you for your time. I have met and spoken to you on a number of occasions in the past at the Higgins shops and at our residence when you called in about 3 years ago.

Just writing to let you know that the playground park (if you can called it that) in the Higgins suburb just 90 metres from our home at 21 Fullagar Crescent and between Hudson and Brazel streets is very poor and neglected and has been so for years (see pics and location map). We have lived here for 28 years and nothing has been improved in the park, only equipment has been taken away now leaving just one swing set. I know you live in the vicinity and would be aware of the park.

The park contains one set of single swings, a broken and out of date bubbler and one bench seat and no lighting. It used to have steel climbing cube but that was removed many years ago.

I would like to lobby and propose to request that the park be upgraded with a new array of swings, sea saw, climbing castle with slippery slide etc with appropriate soft rubber surface for safety and appropriate lighting to bring it up to standard like all new suburbs and other older suburbs that have had their playground parks across Canberra updated and provided with new and modern fixtures.

I’m sorry but we pay taxes and rates and believe that it is way overdue for the park to be updated.

We have 4 grandchildren 2 of whom live nearby to the park and who visit regularly and there are many other young families with children in the area who would make use of the park if it had modern and updated equipment.

At the moment it is a disgrace and an eyesore.

Having a modern and up to date park invokes a community spirit to be proud of.

Can you please forward this letter to its appropriate area to have the park seriously considered for a revamp.

Thank you.

Kind regards,

David Green

Another reader wondered whether Ms Jones knew about the ACT Government’s announcement last November that three parks had been selected as winners in the ACT Craft Your Park competition.

Three teams of landscape architects will design and construct natural play spaces for Canberra’s children in each of the parks respectively.

Natural play spaces incorporate elements from the landscape such as sand, trees and rocks encouraging children to climb, jump, explore and have fun.

The selected teams with their parks are:

Finn Street in O’Connor – Spacelab, Glascott Landscape and Civil, and Provincial Plants and Landscapes
Telopea Park in Barton – Group GSA, Cia Landscapes and Colour, and Ric McConaghy
Tuggeranong Town Park in Greenway – Harris Hobbs Landscapes, Area Design Consultants, Brindabella Contractors Pty Ltd, Nicholas Bray Landscapes and Geoff Filmer.

Each team is to receive $100,000 for the design, community engagement and construction of their natural play space.

Designs for the natural play spaces will be available online soon at www.tccs.act.gov.au with works to start by mid-2017.

Here are Ms Jones’ “high hopes” for her home suburb of Higgins:

1. Weekend blue rapid buses every 15 minutes from Belconnen to Kippax. The blue rapid buses go on Southern Cross Drive on weekdays, so the normal route is alongside Higgins.

2. Bus shelters on Castieau and Fullagar streets in Higgins. I have had good news on my request for these bus shelters, and I am waiting for the building to happen, for 2 bus shelters – baby steps. We live in hope. Where do you need bus shelters in Higgins?

3. Fix up and improve Hudson St, Higgins playground – get the water bubbler working, have a picnic table, slippery dip and anything else kids would enjoy. Maybe put in a rubbish bin? Get kids active and healthy, and provide free, healthy activities for local families.

4. Put one of the new water fountains at Higgins shops, like the one at Cook shops. I am sure the elderly at the new nursing home will appreciate a top level water fountain at the shops.

5. Fix up the cracked and broken footpaths on main roads in Higgins, especially Fullagar Cres, Higgins. People walk there. We don’t have many footpaths in Higgins, most Higgins streets have no footpaths at all, so fix up what we have.

6. Build a playground, bike track, benches, bbqs, picnic huts and indoor pool on Higgins oval, below the old Higgins school site. Fund safe Labor areas, give families affordable, healthy lifestyle options.

What else does Higgins need? What does your suburb need? Are you happy with the state of your local playground? What would you like to see added or repaired? Or is there no playground near where you live? Let us know in the comments.

Pictured is the playground at Hudson St, Higgins. Photos: Vanessa Jones

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30 Responses to
West Belco advocate slams state of playground
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Mello 12:26 pm 22 Apr 17

It’s a safe Labor seat, expect NOTHING from them 🙁

wildturkeycanoe 10:03 pm 13 Feb 17

pink little birdie said :

Most public pools are heavily subsidised by local governments already and currently Civic pool is slated for upgrades and new pool for Stromlo/Weston Creek. So I don’t think a pool for West Belconnen is coming anytime soon, particularly with CIASC and Big Splash relatively close by.
If there was demand for the buses to Kippax on the weekends they would already run more frequently

Judging by the admission charges at these locations, they can’t be that well subsidized. The cost of taking a family to Big Splash just to swim is double all the other pools, don’t even mention slides, your wallet will flee in horror.
Perhaps the bus issue is a bit of a chicken and egg. If the buses were useful, they would be used, but people resort to cars because they need to, for timing and convenience. According to the government though, a tram will fix these issues and increase patronage.

pink little birdie 3:53 pm 13 Feb 17

Most public pools are heavily subsidised by local governments already and currently Civic pool is slated for upgrades and new pool for Stromlo/Weston Creek. So I don’t think a pool for West Belconnen is coming anytime soon, particularly with CIASC and Big Splash relatively close by.
If there was demand for the buses to Kippax on the weekends they would already run more frequently

Vanessa Jones 10:23 pm 12 Feb 17

joingler said :

I think Ms. Jones is a little unrealistic regarding a couple of her “high hopes for Higgins”

Weekend blue rapid buses every 15 minutes from Belconnen to Kippax is simply not viable. I cycled out to Holt to pickup something I bought online this morning. I decided to get the bus back from Kippax to Belco as the heat was starting to get to me. I was the only person on the bus that goes direct from Kippax to Belconnen. Before moving to Gungahlin not that long ago, I lived in Holt and commuted by bus everywhere (I don’t own a car). The blue rapid on weekdays usually had a few people on it but the weekend buses were almost always empty. I rarely saw more than 2-3 people on the buses. If no one is using an hourly service on Saturday mornings, why the hell would the government waste money in making services every 15 minutes?

The population in West Belconnen is nowhere near enough to successfully fund a swimming pool. CISAC is a short drive away and Big Splash is there for the summer months. For learn to Swim Classes, Kings at Macgregor services the local area in a similar way that Aquatots at Forde services the northern part of Gungahlin. Between all of that, I fail to see how a new public pool at Kippax or Charnwood would do anything other than bleed money.

In fact I’m fairly sure there used to be a pool at Kippax but it closed down due to lack of patronage (happy to be corrected by someone who has lived here longer than I).

It is claimed that the government needs to give Higgins families “affordable, healthy lifestyle options.”

There is a shared path linking Higgins to Kippax. It’s a short 15 minute walk. There is an underpass under Kingsford Smith to link with the footpaths in Scullin. There are plenty of bike tracks through Umbagong park in nearby Latham. There are outdoor gyms in Holt and Cook.

I completely agree that the playgrounds in Higgins need an upgrade. And I agree that a few of the footpaths need a bit of work. I reckon that extending the shared path from the shops to the Scullin underpass going via the park Boniwell Street would be a good idea.

Other than that, there is nothing the government can do to improve the life of the citizens there. Swimming pools and rapid weekend buses are simply not viable for such a small population. Both these will become viable in time as the new developments across the border go up.

There are weekend blue rapid buses currently going from Tuggers to Belco every 15 mins. This current service should be extended to Kippax, so it’s a similar service to the weekday blue rapid line. How many people are on the weekend blue rapids, currently, from Tuggers to Belco? If the weekend blue rapids start, to Kippax, and there are not “enough” people on them, the rapids can be decreased to every 30 mins. I meet many young uni people at the rapid bus stop on weekdays, who would love to use weekend rapids, to get to work and go out on weekends. Those young people feel stuck in the Kippax area on weekends. They would love to be more mobile.
I understand that the old Kippax pool got run down with pigeons in the roof, and the old owner sold the site to developers- correct me please if I am wrong.
The kids at KSS school would benefit from easy access to a nearby public pool- even if it’s only 25m. 45,000 people deserve one public pool. Tiny towns like Binalong, Bemboka and Candelo all have one public pool. If towns that size can have one pool, well why not areas with 45,000 people? Families of 4 have one pool in their garden. Why deny very basic pleasures and facilities to 45,000 people? We have no beaches in Canberra, so give people a pool. How can families of 4 people have a pool, but huge populations not have one? Why be so mean? This debate really shocks me- many apartment and townhouse set ups have one pool for 10 or 20 apartments- if that is ok, well what about 45,000 people having just one pool to share? If we can build 2 tram lines, then we can let 45,000 people share one pool. It’s only a bit of water we are talking about, not liquid gold.

Ian 9:58 pm 12 Feb 17

ChrisinTurner said :

Amazing! At last we have a MLA interested in municipal facilities and council maintenance.

Can’t have that. All MLA’s know their role is to pursue obscure pet social engineering theories and to play entrepreneur using taxpayers’ money.

joingler 11:11 am 12 Feb 17

wildturkeycanoe said :

Joingler, your comments regarding buses and the pool are not practical. To get to Big Splash today [Sunday] I would have to walk 600m to Kippax, bus it to Belconnen and then walk another 1.6km. The travel time is estimated to be 51 minutes. In heat like we’ve had recently many would suffer heatstroke. Can you understand why people don’t use public transport now, especially when the same trip is only ten minutes by car? A pool in the Kippax area would be well utilized I suspect. Also, the Dickson pool is a similar distance to Gunghalin to that of CISAC to West Belco, but they got their own pool. Why are we getting second best?
The gym you are referring to in Kippax I think closed down recently too,but I don’t know if it was lack of patronage or other reasons.

Well then, go to CISAC. It’s a 2 minute walk from the Emu Bank bus stop which all buses from West Belconnen go to.

Yes, the distance from Gungahlin Town Centre to Dickson is around the same as West Belco to CISAC. But that is simplistic as the Gungahlin Leisure centre is the pool for all of Gungahlin, not just the town centre. The distance from Jacka to Dickson is actually the same as Dunlop to Dickson. So if you think Gungahlin shouldn’t have been built because Dickson is there, you’re claiming that CISAC isn’t really needed because those in West Belconnen can just travel the 15km to Dickson. Yes, those who live in Harrison and Franklin now have the luxury of choosing Dickson and Gungahlin, both of which are within 5km but with suburbs like Amaroo, Ngunnawal, Moncrieff, Bonner and Jacka, the pool at Gungahlin becomes viable and services a large population which would otherwise be forced to travel to Dickson or CISAC.

If a pool was built in Higgins/Kippax, the people using it would only come from a few low populated suburbs. The pool at Gungahlin is servicing a large number of highly populated suburbs which are growing in population.

As I said before, there will be a time in the future where a pool is viable for West Belconnen. This will be once the new developments go up across the border which will increase the population. But right now, it is unviable. The government should identify a piece of land and reserve for that purpose, similar to what they’ve done in Molonglo.

Lastly, I was referring to the free outdoor gym in Holt. There are many of these in Canberra and I can assure you that the one in Holt is still there (well was when I cycled past a week ago anyway)

http://www.tccs.act.gov.au/city-living/recreation/outdoorfitness/find-location/fitness-sites

wildturkeycanoe 9:34 am 12 Feb 17

Joingler, your comments regarding buses and the pool are not practical. To get to Big Splash today [Sunday] I would have to walk 600m to Kippax, bus it to Belconnen and then walk another 1.6km. The travel time is estimated to be 51 minutes. In heat like we’ve had recently many would suffer heatstroke. Can you understand why people don’t use public transport now, especially when the same trip is only ten minutes by car? A pool in the Kippax area would be well utilized I suspect. Also, the Dickson pool is a similar distance to Gunghalin to that of CISAC to West Belco, but they got their own pool. Why are we getting second best?
The gym you are referring to in Kippax I think closed down recently too,but I don’t know if it was lack of patronage or other reasons.

joingler 6:47 pm 11 Feb 17

I think Ms. Jones is a little unrealistic regarding a couple of her “high hopes for Higgins”

Weekend blue rapid buses every 15 minutes from Belconnen to Kippax is simply not viable. I cycled out to Holt to pickup something I bought online this morning. I decided to get the bus back from Kippax to Belco as the heat was starting to get to me. I was the only person on the bus that goes direct from Kippax to Belconnen. Before moving to Gungahlin not that long ago, I lived in Holt and commuted by bus everywhere (I don’t own a car). The blue rapid on weekdays usually had a few people on it but the weekend buses were almost always empty. I rarely saw more than 2-3 people on the buses. If no one is using an hourly service on Saturday mornings, why the hell would the government waste money in making services every 15 minutes?

The population in West Belconnen is nowhere near enough to successfully fund a swimming pool. CISAC is a short drive away and Big Splash is there for the summer months. For learn to Swim Classes, Kings at Macgregor services the local area in a similar way that Aquatots at Forde services the northern part of Gungahlin. Between all of that, I fail to see how a new public pool at Kippax or Charnwood would do anything other than bleed money.

In fact I’m fairly sure there used to be a pool at Kippax but it closed down due to lack of patronage (happy to be corrected by someone who has lived here longer than I).

It is claimed that the government needs to give Higgins families “affordable, healthy lifestyle options.”

There is a shared path linking Higgins to Kippax. It’s a short 15 minute walk. There is an underpass under Kingsford Smith to link with the footpaths in Scullin. There are plenty of bike tracks through Umbagong park in nearby Latham. There are outdoor gyms in Holt and Cook.

I completely agree that the playgrounds in Higgins need an upgrade. And I agree that a few of the footpaths need a bit of work. I reckon that extending the shared path from the shops to the Scullin underpass going via the park Boniwell Street would be a good idea.

Other than that, there is nothing the government can do to improve the life of the citizens there. Swimming pools and rapid weekend buses are simply not viable for such a small population. Both these will become viable in time as the new developments across the border go up.

Vanessa Jones 9:18 pm 10 Feb 17

wildturkeycanoe said :

JC said :

West Belconnen does have equal (government provided) facilities to compared to other parts of Canberra.

So does any park in West Belconnen come to mind that is anywhere near the quality of either the Arboretum, the “Boundless Playground” in King’s Park or Weston Park in Yarralumla? Even the Yerrabi Pond District Park has some cool flying foxes. What has West Belconnen but a spider web gym thing at Kippax? The Western foreshore of Lake Ginninderra is pretty average by these other inner city standards and could be so much better, but it isn’t even West Belconnen but central, like John Knight Memorial park.

JC said :

Yeah this park needs some repair and no doubt around town you will find many more too so not a west Belconnen thing by a long shot. I am also certain you will find new stuff in a west belco if you look too.

We are in a new area of West Belconnen and yes, while there are new parks, they were pretty average from the start. There is one near our place which looked for years like it was supposed to have some flying foxes installed, but now it is just a series of mounds with a strip of concrete between them. What on earth would kids use this for? Also, it isn’t so much about the quality of the parks themselves, but the maintenance. Presently the parks look like a perfect place for snakes to live, with very tall and dry native grasses surrounding the play area, along with all manner of weeds. Sure the “grass” around the parks has been mowed, but inside the fences there has been no activity by council workers.

JC said :

But when you have a victim mentality where everything is against you it is hard to see reality.

When you have your head filled with grand delusions of a new tram, off road cycle highways and inner city living, it’s hard to acknowledge that there are people stuck out in the burbs doing it tough with ADSL internet, poor mobile phone coverage and thirty to forty minute commutes to their workplaces. Oh, and also a tripling of rates to pay for something they will never use too.

A main feature park, like Yerrabi park, would be great within West Belconnen as there are so many young families in the area, due to affordable housing options. Such a park would be free for families, encourage fitness & activity, and be a social space. Possible sites: the middle of the Moyes Cres Kippax oval, on the corner of Starke St ( the middle third area) or the Higgins oval below the old Higgins school site. Both close to KSS school and the Kippax bus station, so easy access.
I think the Labor Party know that Ginninderra will always vote 3/5 Labor- so they ignore it, and they still get in. They can get away with doing nothing. The moral question is, how can Labor treat its loyal voters so badly, decade after decade?

wildturkeycanoe 2:20 pm 10 Feb 17

JC said :

West Belconnen does have equal (government provided) facilities to compared to other parts of Canberra.

So does any park in West Belconnen come to mind that is anywhere near the quality of either the Arboretum, the “Boundless Playground” in King’s Park or Weston Park in Yarralumla? Even the Yerrabi Pond District Park has some cool flying foxes. What has West Belconnen but a spider web gym thing at Kippax? The Western foreshore of Lake Ginninderra is pretty average by these other inner city standards and could be so much better, but it isn’t even West Belconnen but central, like John Knight Memorial park.

JC said :

Yeah this park needs some repair and no doubt around town you will find many more too so not a west Belconnen thing by a long shot. I am also certain you will find new stuff in a west belco if you look too.

We are in a new area of West Belconnen and yes, while there are new parks, they were pretty average from the start. There is one near our place which looked for years like it was supposed to have some flying foxes installed, but now it is just a series of mounds with a strip of concrete between them. What on earth would kids use this for? Also, it isn’t so much about the quality of the parks themselves, but the maintenance. Presently the parks look like a perfect place for snakes to live, with very tall and dry native grasses surrounding the play area, along with all manner of weeds. Sure the “grass” around the parks has been mowed, but inside the fences there has been no activity by council workers.

JC said :

But when you have a victim mentality where everything is against you it is hard to see reality.

When you have your head filled with grand delusions of a new tram, off road cycle highways and inner city living, it’s hard to acknowledge that there are people stuck out in the burbs doing it tough with ADSL internet, poor mobile phone coverage and thirty to forty minute commutes to their workplaces. Oh, and also a tripling of rates to pay for something they will never use too.

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