Please note that some of the info in these newsletters (especially event listings) can go out of date quite quickly.
I hope you’ve been coping ok with recent heatwaves. Such events remind us that we live in a divided city. Some of us have well-designed homes with good ventilation and solar-powered air-conditioning. Others (mostly lower-income renters) live in musty ovens that are expensive to keep cool and downright unsafe to inhabit during power cuts. It’s increasingly clear that strengthening renters’ rights and adapting our city for a warming climate are closely linked priorities.
Given that we now have active state and federal representatives who are sending out their own regular email newsletters, I’m aiming to only send out updates every three weeks and will see how that goes. Feedback on the kinds of issues and questions you’d like addressed in these newsletters is always welcome.
New free bus route comes to Kurilpa!
One piece of good news from the start of this year is the introduction of a new free bus loop running every 12 minutes between West End and South Brisbane. The route 86 began operations in late January and is the first free public bus service in West End/South Brisbane that I can remember. It runs in an anti-clockwise loop along Vulture Street, Grey Street and Montague Road.
While most Brisbane bus routes are funded by the State Government (who also collects all the ticket revenue), this service is funded directly by Brisbane City Council on a one-year trial basis (it will be cancelled if ridership is not high enough). It’s very rare for new bus services to be introduced anywhere in the city, and we almost never get new free services, so this is a big win for our community.
Interestingly, this service is not at all about connecting 9-to-5 commuters who are travelling to and from the city (it doesn’t run into the CBD). Its focus is on connecting different precincts within the 4101 postcode and improving accessibility for people with impaired mobility (such as parents with small kids, or elderly residents) who might find it difficult to get from central West End down to South Bank (or vice versa).
I really like that the service runs late into the evenings and on weekends/public holidays, but currently it only starts at 10am, which is a missed opportunity to cater to morning demand. If you’d like to see the service start earlier each day, please email the mayor at [email protected] to congratulate the council on introducing this new service, and ask that it start operating at 7am or 8am instead of 10am.
You can find more info about the new bus loop - including an explanation of why the route doesn’t also run in a clockwise direction - at this link. One of the main barriers to getting more high-frequency services connecting different parts of the Gabba Ward is that buses get held up in general traffic congestion. If we want to improve public transport, we also need to take lanes away from cars to create dedicated bus lanes - a difficult but important conversation to be starting in our community.
To help celebrate the new bus route (and bump up the patronage numbers) I’m organising a “Words on Wheels” spoken word concert up the back of the bus for the evening of Monday, 13 February.
Passengers can get on the 7:20pm service of the route 86 bus at the GOMA bus stop (Stanley Place, South Brisbane) and ride the loop while listening to 20 minutes of acoustic performance poetry (if there’s lots of demand and too many people to fit on the bus, we’ll do a second loop of performances on the 7:40pm service). Free entry of course. More details via the Facebook event.
Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flooding - Renovate or Relocate?
By the end of this century, rising sea levels mean that many of Brisbane’s coastal and riverside suburbs are likely to experience flooding, not just periodic creek and river flooding after heavy rain, but every high tide due to seawater inundation.
This raises some difficult but important questions:
- Which streets and neighbourhoods should be relocated to higher ground due to flood risk?
- Should the council continue offering services like road resurfacing and garbage collection along streets that go underwater twice a day?
- If people knowingly move into waterfront homes that will be at risk from sea level rise, is it the wider public’s responsibility to bear the cost of either relocating those homes or building flood walls to protect them?
To start discussing and thinking through these questions, I’m organising a Regenerate Brisbane forum in Sandgate this Saturday from 2:15pm to 4:45pm. Although some suburbs (like Sandgate and Brighton) are much more at risk of coastal flooding than others, the long-term costs will likely be carried by the city as a whole, so it’s important that residents from across Brisbane start thinking through these issues together.
Where: Sandbag Community Centre, 153 Rainbow St, Sandgate
When: Saturday, 13 February, 2:15pm to 4:45pm (afternoon tea from 2:15, presentation from 2:30)
The venue is fully accessible. Please register for the event via this link to assist us with catering estimations.
South Bank Master Plan
As mentioned in previous emails, South Bank Corporation has been seeking feedback on its draft master plan to guide future development and land use within the precinct. At this link, you can download a joint submission on the master plan that I made with Amy MacMahon (State MP for South Brisbane) and Max Chandler-Mather (Federal MP for Griffith).
Among other things, in our submission we recommend redesigning the intersection of Vulture St and Grey St to prioritise pedestrians ahead of cars, and highlight concerns about South Bank’s proposal to add more food and drink businesses on low-lying parts of the riverfront that are highly vulnerable to flooding.
Shafston House, Kangaroo Point
The Labor State Government recently signed off on a development application for the State Heritage-listed Shafston House site. We're now waiting to hear whether the LNP-led Brisbane City Council will also approve the DA.
The application doesn’t seek to demolish the main Shafston House residence but it does propose to demolish some of the ancillary structures that still have significant heritage value. It also proposes to locate a large highrise tower (of luxury apartments, not affordable public housing) looming right over the historic buildings, and perhaps most concerningly, will build out luxury townhouse residences on part of the open lawn, which is one of the last riverside green spaces on the eastern side of Kangaroo Point.
Shafston House is one of the oldest and most historically significant buildings in the city. I would like to see it brought back into public ownership for use as a community centre, arts venue and meeting space, with the riverside lawns opened up as a public park. The council has the money to do this, but would prefer to spend public funds widening roads rather than protecting green spaces and historic buildings.
Shafston is a key site for Kangaroo Point’s future public river walk. Residents who live in other nearby buildings that don’t have direct access to the river will need to be able to walk and ride through the site to access the riverside pathway that BCC and the State Government want to complete between Dockside and Mowbray Park.
If this development goes ahead as proposed, it would lock the public out of Shafston altogether, meaning that all the residents who live on the southern/western sides of Thorn St, Castlebar St and Lambert Street won’t actually be able to get through to the riverwalk (which means more of them will continue to drive as their main mode of transport).
This is another classic example of how undemocratic and short-sighted our city's current approach to urban planning and development assessment has become. We should be building more high-quality public housing in the inner-city that preserves and enhances public green space and encourages public and active transport. Instead, we're seeing more approvals of the same cookie-cutter private luxury developments that function primarily to drive up land values and make developers rich while ordinary people have to take out bigger and bigger mortgages just to get a roof over their head.
It's not too late to email the mayor at [email protected] to give feedback on this development.
New South Brisbane dog off-leash area
Recently, the mayor sent out a printed newsletter that included a surprise announcement of a new dog off-leash area at 53 Grey St, South Brisbane in Jolly Place Park. I’ve been advocating consistently for new dog off-leash areas in the Kurilpa Peninsula for some time now, but I was not consulted prior to the announcement of this particular location.
I still think we need another, larger dog off-leash area for the 4101 postcode that’s closer to the centre of West End and I encourage residents to email the mayor at [email protected] to advise that a bigger, more centrally accessible dog off-leash area will still be needed. We haven’t had much info about this project yet, but I'll keep you posted as I learn more.
Extending Dutton Park bike lanes into Annerley
Local residents group Active Travel for Annerley are inviting residents to sign a petition for protected bike lanes, safer speed limits and safer crossings along Annerley Rd from Biscuit to Ipswich Rd (Biscuit is the nickname for the new high school at Dutton Park. Residents are advocating for upgrades that would extend the Woollongabba Bikeway south along Annerley Road and make it easier and safer for locals to access schools, workplaces, parks, train stations and local businesses by bike or walking. More people cycling would also take more cars off Annerley Road in peak hours.
Local school P&Cs, elected representatives and other community leaders have signed an open letter supporting these changes.
The petition and further background information can be found at this link.
You can also follow Active Travel for Annerley on Facebook, and residents who are interested in getting actively involved with volunteering on the campaign for separated bike lanes are welcome to apply to join the Active Travel for Annerley internal Facebook group at this link.
I'm also still lobbying the council to install safer physical separators along the existing stretches of Annerley Rd bike lane in Woolloongabba and Dutton Park, and to redesign the Annerley Rd intersection approaches of Stephens Rd and Park Rd to reduce the risk of cyclists being cut off by merging cars.
Lower speed limit on Gladstone Rd, Highgate Hill
Finally, I’m pleased to report that the council has agreed to lower the speed limit of Gladstone Rd from 60km/h to 50km/h between Audenshaw St and Vulture St. This is the section around the Blakeney St shops, and given the high volumes of pedestrian and cyclist activity in the area, plus all the dangerous right-turn movements, it makes sense to slow down cars.
I would ultimately like to see most of Gladstone Rd lowered to 40km/h, with most of the smaller side-streets coming off Gladstone Rd in Highgate Hill lowered to 30km/h, but the LNP are still resistant to that.
The 50km/h speed limit will take effect from 15 March, 2023.
Alright, that’s enough local news for one email. Remember, if there's a local issue that needs addressing, the best approach is to call the council on 3403 8888, and get in touch with my office if you're unhappy with the response. Don’t forget to check out the other upcoming community events listed below.