17 March 2023

Why does the government dislike having residents in Braddon?

| Peter Strong
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Haig Park is now more frequently used, but are the paths in the right place? Photo: File.

I’ve been around Canberra for some time and have experience with some of the silly regulations, rules and decisions made by politicians. I’ve experienced the bureaucracy’s behaviour when regulating these silly rules.

I’ve recently experienced more particularly disturbing behaviours from ACT Government.

Braddon has a group called the ‘Braddon Collective’. It’s a small group of fine, smart people who want to improve safety and liveability in Braddon.

The ACT Government hasn’t shown them much respect. The collective has been given lip-service, and politely ignored, for more than three years now.

They don’t want much. Currently there are no pedestrian crossings in Mort and Lonsdale streets or in the Braddon commercial area in general.

Those who walk slowly, have kids, have a pram, use a cane, use a wheelchair or crutches, are sight impaired, are walking their cute little cavoodle or just want to cross a road safely… well… they should go to Dickson where there are plenty of pedestrian crossings. They certainly aren’t welcome in Braddon.

READ ALSO Haig Park’s new gravel paths an accident waiting to happen, say residents

The Braddon Collective would also like more public toilets. Between the facilities found in the Canberra Centre and the questionable facilities in Haig Park, there are no public toilets.

Is it wrong to want toilets? All those people who want to use pedestrian crossings may want to cross a road safely to use a toilet – but there are no toilets. Maybe that is why there are no pedestrian crossings?

Now we come to Haig Park. In 2019 the government decided to tart it up. Which is great. It is now used more than ever. But they designed it in their own image, so to speak.

At the beginning of the process, they put up signs in the park implying they would put paths where people actually walk – they could see where people walk by the worn grass. Excellent.

But many of the actual paths don’t have a hard surface. The government decided to use loose stones, reminiscent of a dry river bed, in artistic wavy patterns.


Paths in Haig Park have been formed from crushed rock, unsuitable for many users. Photo: Supplied.

The result? Not many people use the gravel paths. You can’t push a pram on the deep, loose stoney path, or ride a bike, or walk in heels, or use a wheelchair or walk with a cane. If you wear thongs or sandals you’ll end up with a stone bruise for sure. As a result, people are walking to the side of the new paths and have worn the grass in new places. So, the Braddon Collective questioned this and sent off a few letters.

A reply from the Chief Minister states: The crushed rock paths were not intended for wheeled access…”

If the path was deliberately designed not to be wheel friendly, shouldn’t there be a sign warning people of the danger of using the path?

The sign could state: “This path is not to be used by prams, wheelchairs, people in heels, people with canes, people with sight issues, people with young children or people who don’t like walking on gravel.” In short, “please don’t use this path”. The new paths are particularly unsafe for kids learning to ride.

So how arrogant and absurd?

Then it gets better (or worse depending). There were rubbish bins in Lonsdale Street near some takeaway food shops. The bins filled up quickly and one day they disappeared. When the Braddon Collective asked why, the City Renewal Authority (CRA) said it had checked with City Services and the bins got filled up too much.

READ ALSO Developer drops hotel rooms from Braddon Place project

Rubbish bins in Braddon are not intended to be used, obviously. They should put up a sign saying “please don’t use these bins”.

Then to somehow justify the removal, City Services said the pizza boxes going into the bins were commercial waste.

Does that mean people cannot put a pizza box into their home wheelie bins because those bins are only for domestic waste?

In summary, the ACT Government doesn’t like (in no particular order): people who use wheels; families with kids who live in or visit Braddon; those with disabilities and certainly those with high heels. They don’t like pedestrian crossings. They dislike bikes in Haig Park. They don’t like public toilets. They don’t like people using rubbish bins. They don’t like safe easy-to-walk-on paths in a park.

When will government listen to the community? Surely, it’s not too much to ask for safety and liveability to be taken seriously?

Or is the government and all its bits and pieces old and stale?

Peter Strong was a Canberra business owner and CEO of the Council of Small Business Australia (COSBOA) for 11 years. He now consults on community economics.

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Braddon residents need public toilets in Braddon?! Don’t they have toilets in their residences that they can use?

Close Lonsdale street to traffic on weekends. Make the strip useable to pedestrians

PC__LoadLetter12:17 pm 21 Mar 23

Crushed rock is appropriate. Lonsdale Street wasn’t even meant to be a street – early plans in peoples title deeds have it as the railway reservation from Canberra to Yass. Just lay some rails on top of the crushed rock and be done with it!

ChrisinTurner6:39 pm 20 Mar 23

If only Braddon had a single local member.

Become a property developer and Barr will fall over himself to serve you. Simple really.

Krystel Chevallier9:47 am 20 Mar 23

My thoughts exactly

Thank you Peter Strong I totally agree. Braddon is rapidly developing as an entertainment and residential precinct. It is now Canberra’s most densely populated suburb. It is a popular hub for the ACT’s social scene with fashionable restaurants, cafes and bars. It has become a drawcard for tourists and locals.
Walking across the road in Lonsdale Street is bedlam with motorists and pedestrians competing, there needs to be level crossings. Not to mention the pathways made from crushed rock and a lack of bins!
What is it about the Rainbow Roundabout that seems to get some people so agitated and bring out the worst in them when mentioning Braddon? Their moaning reached fever pitch when the roundabout was named international roundabout of the year by the UK’s Roundabout Appreciation Society. There seems to be an us and them mentality with these people perceiving any development in Braddon as an injustice to them and they are somehow missing out. Whingeing and whining about a rainbow roundabout for goodness sake that cost a piddling $7,000! The Rainbow roundabout was mostly created by volunteers to celebrate the ACT’s diversity after the same sex marriage survey results were announced. I think that other cities have followed Canberra’s lead and have created similar art pieces.
What is wrong with creating an art piece to celebrate living in a city that is so diverse and accepting after the ACT recorded the strongest “Yes” vote in the country. Who can complain about that!

Michael Cuddihy2:48 pm 20 Mar 23

Symbols can be important. When people see the symbolic being prioritised over the substantive, but mundane that that can lead to exasperation. eg no pedestrian crossings on the busy Lonsdale St vs rainbow roundabout. Personally, I like the colour of the roadabout, but it would have priority number 1,356,233 of things that should be done around our city. But I am sure that others love it.

I suspect many residents would prefer more attention to public bins being emptied (not removed, paths being built for users of tha paths (rather than rocks suitable for a smaller subset etc), or better public transport systems (rather than designing a campaign for car free day), etc etc.

Your comment Michael Cuddihy proves my point and says it all!

HiddenDragon7:20 pm 19 Mar 23

It is perversely comforting to learn that the political and bureaucratic contempt isn’t just reserved for the recalcitrants and deplorables who (by definition) live in the further flung reaches of Canberra.

It is just plain perverse that so many Canberrans put up with this crap and still, every four years, tell themselves that any alternative would be even worse.

It is emblematic of this mentality, and the misguided priorities associated with it, that Braddon has been blessed with a rainbow roundabout but can’t have decent public facilities and amenities – particularly when it would be a relatively rich source of revenue for the ACT government and is a model for the densification which we are incessantly told is the answer to all of our urban problems.

This is odd, I was labouring under the illusion that Andy Barr lives in Braddon and I thought the rainbow rubbish was for him.
Maybe the idea is to stop voting for these clowns. Just stop. 20 years without change is too long, even in China.

GrumpyGrandpa6:30 pm 19 Mar 23

Why does the author think that Braddon should get special treatment? In the suburbs there is a 2 hourly bus services on the weekend, unmowed grass, and so on.

Government arrogance isn’t limited to Braddon.

PC__LoadLetter1:51 pm 20 Mar 23

Braddon doesn’t really have a bus service! The 31 bus detours to the east to stay as far away from Lonsdale Street as it possibly can. Heaps of buses use Cooyong Street, but there aren’t any bus stops along it.

This was especially tragic before they closed the Centrelink. What city specially routes its buses away from its welfare office?

Peter Strong5:01 pm 20 Mar 23

Agree. Just using Braddon as an example because the good folk of the Braddon Collective ( who I know) asked me for advice – it is an issue of selective listening.

Capital Retro6:12 pm 19 Mar 23

But you are still getting your pulled pork and wild mushrooms?

devils_advocate5:12 pm 19 Mar 23

I did lol at the gravel paths one

Did you try telling the bureaucrats that people can’t ride e-scooters on them?

A lack of maintained public toilets in Canberra’s open spaces is not just a Braddon problem, so please don’t think you are special.

Martin Keast3:22 pm 19 Mar 23

Thanks for highlighting the importance of the local community being heard by government rather than the silly responses you have reported. Probably far too busy promoting the woke agenda than worrying about ordinary things like liveable public spaces.

I am not surprised with your article. The current ACT GreenLabor Government treats all of the ACT like that. They are wooden-eared when ACT ratepayers contact them about crappy footpaths, pot holes in Canberra roads , faded or damaged road advisory signs, rubbish on and beside roads, and on and on. All they are concerned with, is how much they can strip normal community programs such as the above of funds to pay for what they see in Canberra in the 22nd Century. — the Light Rail. All glory to the Light Rail the Holy Grail!

The one about the bins is beaurocracy at it’s finest.
“They get too much use so we’ll remove them”.
I thought the saying was use it or lose it not use it and lose it.

Well said Peter … 100% agree with your sentiments .. Lonsdale and Mort Streets are accidents waiting to happen.
But of course, on the brighter side, Mr Barr did give us a rainbow coloured roundabout with a rainbow pole in the middle … now that will keep Residents safe.

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