What do Inner North residents want from this ACT election?

Genevieve Jacobs 15 September 2020 21

Dickson is the centre of intense development activity. Photo: Daniella Jukic.

As the election nears, how do we ensure the voices of ordinary voters are heard? We’re in election forum season and the first cab off the rank is the North Canberra Community Council which will hold a virtual election debate tomorrow night (16 September).

Region Media has partnered with the Inner North, Inner South, Tuggeranong and Weston Creek Community Councils to present election debates over the coming weeks, several of which will be filmed and live-streamed across our social media channels.

Challenges in the Inner North are plain as the area develops rapidly, encompassing multiple urban infill developments along the new light rail route. There are huge changes afoot for Dickson, along Northbourne Avenue and around West Basin.

So what do local residents want and need from the ACT Government as their neighbourhood is transformed?

North Canberra Community Council chair Joachim Zeil says their concerns fall into three categories: planning, consultation and compliance. But the Council’s frustration centres on a single theme: the persistent sense that the only recourse available to ordinary citizens is fiddling around the edges of developments that are a foregone conclusion.

“A typical example is Dickson where the whole area is piecemeal developed into little bits,” Joachim says. While he’s insistent that the Council was not opposed to the Common Ground development, for example, he says there should have been consultation about the best location.

“That lack of meaningful consultations means it’s now going to the cheapest place, furthest away from public transport and facilities. Typically, we have locations and designs presented to us and we’re allowed to fiddle around the edges.

“I’d rather see a design competition, the chance for more input from the beginning. Is there an interesting alternative that provides community facilities, that does some good for everyone? Does the design for a project facilitate community spaces and interactions?”

Joachim says that while there’s a planning system review taking place, it’s hard to penetrate and that the environment and planning forum convened by Ben Ponton, the Director-General of Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development, doesn’t allow for much flexibility around the processes.

The Council has asked for a simpler and more straightforward approach, but Jochen says they often find the processes and rationales behind decision making obscure because there’s no easy way for the community to examine them

He’s also concerned by compliance, feeling that too many development applications have basic problems like solar access and parking issues. “Many of us are repeatedly involved with drilling down into compliance issues,” he says.

“That’s not our job, that’s the responsibility of the planning agencies. Yet some of us end up in ACAT, arguing about basic matters that should have been addressed in the development application in the first place.

“Why should that be necessary?”

The North Canberra Community Council’s election forum will be held on Wednesday from 7:00 pm. You can find the Zoom meeting details here.

North Canberra Community Council

The North Canberra Community Council and The RiotACT are hosting the 2020 ACT Election Candidates Forum. Image: Supplied.

The forum will include candidates for the seat of Kurrajong from Labor, the Liberals, the Greens, the Canberra Progressives and independent Bruce Paine.

The North Canberra Community Council represents the interests of the local residents, businesses and organisations including the Campbell Community Association; the Dickson Residents Group; the Downer Community Association; the Hackett Community Association; the Lyneham Community Association; the O’Connor Community Inc; the Pialligo Residents’ Association; the Reid Residents’ Association; the Turner Residents’ Association and the Watson Community Association.

What do you think are the most urgent community issues in the Inner North?

What's Your Opinion?

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21 Responses to What do Inner North residents want from this ACT election?
John Ryan John Ryan 4:48 pm 16 Sep 20

My predictions for this event: a lot of people complaining about new housing being built, particularly high-rise housing.

I don't think these people represent most North Canberrans. Most North Canberra residents want affordable housing.

They want a city for everyone, not just for people who were lucky enough to buy a three-bedroom house in Ainslie before the housing market skyrocketed.

I want the voice of people like me to be heard at this forum, but I know it won't be - we can't afford the time to participate, because we're too busy trying to stay ahead of housing costs.

Coral Bartlett Coral Bartlett 9:15 am 16 Sep 20

We need to see respect for our heritage & existing green spaces. Unchecked urban infill will destroy the heat sink provided by the inner north.

Preserve the old north Ainslie pre school (Bill Pye Park) & return preschoolers to the beautiful site. This will relieve overcrowding at North Ainslie and Majura Primary Schools.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 1:02 am 19 Sep 20

    You know what contributes to the decline in green spaces. People building McMansions and filling the whole block.

Robert Morris Robert Morris 8:04 am 16 Sep 20

I would like to see our green space surroundings preserved. The current government is going nuts with redevelopment and high rises. Soon to be a poor mans Sydney CBD the way we are going. Labor/Greens have lost touch from their core.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 1:01 am 19 Sep 20

    So would I, so we need infill to stop the urban sprawl and bushland and farmland being bulldozed for housing. Urban sprawl also tends to be single houses, rather than apartments, which means more green space being destroyed by urban sprawl than infill.

Hanh Dinh Hanh Dinh 9:14 pm 15 Sep 20

We would like to have more than one Supermarket rather than just one crowded WW. Bring on proper shopping centre with ALDI

Mark Huppert Mark Huppert 2:48 pm 15 Sep 20

Personally I would like a Greens/Labor/Progressives victory. The Libs can't restrain themselves from pushing evangelical Christian stuff, sacking public servants and cutting support for the arts.

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