One the ACT Government’s fiercest critics has thrown her hat in the ring for October’s Legislative Assembly elections, saying an independent voice can bring a fresh perspective to the issues facing Canberra, particularly in the vexed planning area.
Woden Valley Community Council president Fiona Carrick* has been calling the government out on development and amenity issues for the past three and a half years in the role and now says it’s time to apply her passion for getting a better deal for the city’s south by announcing her candidacy for the seat of Murrumbidgee.
The public servant from Torrens has become increasingly frustrated by what she sees as the government’s ad hoc planning decisions, its preference for high-rise residential towers and neglect of the Woden, Weston and Molonglo areas when it comes to public facilities such as sports halls and arts centres.
”I welcome new development but it needs to be done well with transparent planning to ensure we work towards the right balance between affordable housing, local employment and access to transport, health and education across our diverse electorate,” she said.
Even the announcement of a new CIT campus for Woden connected to a new interchange has come in the guise of a multi-storey development.
”Are we getting just another high rise in Woden for a CIT, and is there a better option to provide more of a campus feel?” Ms Carrick asked.
The government’s planning needed to be genuinely more consultative and agreed to more by the community.
”Give us a proper plan and then maybe everyone won’t scream blue murder when you do something,” Ms Carrick said.
She decries the Government’s lack of vision, not just in Woden but also in Weston Creek, where the Cooleman Court group centre is now also serving the new Molonglo suburbs.
”Why not make it more of an urban village. Why not a library and a cafe? Other places have a library, and Dickson and the city are only 4 km apart,” she said.
”I can’t see why Cooleman Court couldn’t get a bit more amenity.”
Ms Carrick said that after a year of bushfire, smoke and now COVID-19, there should be a re-think about the densities in the town centres.
”I’d like to see a greater focus on the suburbs, including more services and facilities in the south,” she said.
Ms Carrick has long campaigned for an indoor multi-sports hall for Woden, and has contributed to securing the new CIT, community centre for Woden Community Services, saving three hectares of Eddison Park from cemetery expansion, and upgrades to Woden Town Square.
She wants local shops, group and town centres that support small business and public meeting places, including community facilities, parking and open green spaces.
Also on her radar are more affordable housing options, access to transport, health and education to reduce car trips, maintaining streetscapes and parks and safe accessible places for all ages and abilities.
”We need to make sure we have green space in the right areas,” she said. ”We’ve got the fantastic hills and ridges but we also need to make sure that we have green spaces that are accessible in our central areas.”
And in the light of the North Curtin Horse Paddock controversy, she remains concerned about the government’s intentions for the light rail Stage 2 corridor.
”I will work towards keeping the government accountable in the development of the Bush capital that we all love,” she said.
* Ms Carrick has resigned as WVCC president and Dr Jenny Stewart will replace her.