Email newsletter Friday, 9 September 2022

Dear residents,

I feel like there’s been more than enough talk about the Queen’s passing lately, so all I’ll say on that front is that it’s disappointing how much racism and abuse has been directed towards public figures like Senator Mehreen Faruqi, who rightly highlighted that the British Empire has a pretty awful track record. ‘Respect for the dead’ should never be used as a political weapon to silence legitimate criticism of undemocratic, parasitic institutions like monarchies.

This week the LNP adjourned our regular council meeting ‘as a mark of respect’ despite strong objections from all non-LNP councillors. The council won’t sit again until 25 October, which is annoying as it restricts our opportunities to hold the administration to account via public meetings.

I’ll be taking a couple weeks of leave in late September/early October, but here are a few issues to stay abreast of (I’m trying to make these updates more concise, so please email my office if you want further details on any of the following).

 

Pride is returning to West End - Montague Road/Vulture Street March Route

Brisbane’s first Pride Fair Day was held in Musgrave Park in 1990, but for the past decade the event was held in New Farm. I’m very excited that the event is returning to our side of the river on Saturday, 24 September. It’s sure to be an amazing celebration of Queer culture and community. 

Strangely, BCC told the organisers that the best route for the march was from Orleigh Park to Musgrave Park (even though a march from the city would probably have made more sense). So on Saturday morning, 24 September, the Pride rally will be gathering at Orleigh Park from 9:30am, and marching north along Montague Road from 10am, heading to Musgrave Park via Vulture Street and Besant Street.

This is the first time in years that a major rally will march along Montague Road and Vulture Street on a Saturday morning (same time as the Davies Park markets), so I’m expecting a bit of traffic disruption and recommending that locals avoid driving on Saturday morning (24 September) if you can. The organisers have also asked me to encourage residents and businesses along Montague Rd, Vulture St and Besant St to fly rainbow flags on the day, which I think is a lovely idea!

Hopefully plenty of Gabba Ward residents will be excited to join the parade itself as well!

 

Still no answers regarding East Brisbane State School or Raymond Park

The State Government still hasn’t clarified what the future will be for East Brisbane State School or Raymond Park if the Gabba Stadium is used as an Olympics venue, however we’re hearing from government insiders that an unpublished feasibility study raises serious concerns about the viability of the project.

Regardless of what happens with the Olympics, we will still need a larger public state school around Kangaroo Point/Woolloongabba/East Brisbane to cater for local students, so half-baked proposals like merging East Brisbane onto the Coorparoo State School campus simply don’t make sense in terms of long-term planning. And we certainly need more public parkland around Kangaroo Point, so fencing off Raymond Park for an Olympics facility isn’t a good outcome.

Alongside our state and federal MPs, Amy MacMahon and Max Chandler-Mather, I’m co-organising a public show of support for East Brisbane State School which is currently planned for the morning of Thursday, 20 October, so mark that in your calendars and keep an eye out for further updates.

 

St Vincent’s Hospital in Kangaroo Point turning to highrise development

In the next week or so, we anticipate signage will go up outside St Vincent’s Hospital in Kangaroo Point, inviting public submissions on the proposal to build highrise residential towers of 15 to 19 storeys on the hospital site (alongside new hospital buildings) overlooking the river.

Considering the significant traffic limitations of this site (with the driveway opening directly onto Main Street’s northbound approach to the Storey Bridge) and its zoning for Community Facilities (which doesn’t ordinarily permit residential development), I don’t think this is an appropriate location for the scale and style of high-end residential apartments that St Vincent’s seems to be proposing.

I believe some of this site should instead be used to create a new public park, and that any new apartments which are not specifically for hospital patients should be public housing rather than for-profit private housing.

You can find details of the application via this link. It’s already possible to make a submission via this link even though the formal submissions period hasn’t opened yet. The main difference if you wait to make a submission during the formal consultation period is that you will have legal objection rights in court if the development is approved. You can also make multiple submissions on multiple dates.

 

Help residents resist loss of affordable housing in Dutton Park

Developers are proposing to demolish and renovate the old character homes and shops at the corner of Deighton Rd and Gladstone Rd in Dutton Park to build a new childcare centre.

While I understand the pressure for more childcare places in the area, I don’t think that new centres should come at the expense of low-cost housing or historic buildings.

One of the houses that would be demolished was built in 1917 (or possibly even earlier) and has been divided up into low-cost flats. There are more cheap flats above and behind the shopfront on the corner. All up, there are currently 19 bedrooms on this site that constitute some of the cheapest remaining private rental housing in the entire suburb of Dutton Park. To demolish these homes does not serve the public interest, and is also a waste of resources.

I’m also concerned that this style of multi-level childcare centre, with 95 enrolments but no dedicated natural outdoor play spaces, does not represent a good environment for young children to grow and thrive in. Traffic impacts at the intersection of Deighton Rd and Gladstone Rd are also likely to be significant during peak periods considering the existing issues with St Ita’s Catholic School across the road.

I’ve started a petition opposing this project, which you can sign at this link. You can also make a submission regarding the development at this link if you wish.

 

Rising construction costs and Blakeney Street traffic calming postponed

A while back (just before the floods), we consulted publicly on a traffic calming proposal for Blakeney St after residents voted to allocate funding for it. Frustratingly, various factors (e.g. floods, inflation, material scarcity) are now pushing up construction costs for these kinds of projects dramatically. 

The latest quotes for build-outs on Blakeney Street have ranged from $375 000 to $435 000, which is far higher than we’d budgeted for, and is hard to justify for a single street when my entire annual budget for public space upgrades is only $570 000. So we’re putting this project on hold for six months in the hope that either costs will fall, or the LNP will agree to allocate more funding towards these kinds of projects. At least the consultation and design work is done.

Across the board, rising construction costs, increasing complexity of constrained urban environments, and unreasonable interference from backward-thinking LNP councillors is making it harder to deliver a range of local public space projects we’ve had in the pipeline.

It seems like the participatory budgeting process we’ve used to allocate funding over the last few years may no longer be fit for purpose due to the unpredictability of delivery costs. So rather than immediately launching another round of community voting, I’m currently thinking through how we can tweak the process so that residents can still have meaningful input into what we allocate funding towards. Keep an eye out for future email updates on that front.

 

Tree plantings on Hoogley Street

We’ve asked council officers to fix up the dirt paths and plant some extra shade trees at the southwest corner of the Hoogley St-Drake St intersection (in front of the Porodina apartments) and the northwest corner of the Hoogley St-Gray Rd intersection.

We’re still working out whether we can get large trees into these locations without blocking visibility for motorists, and what pathway surface will best cater to pedestrians without introducing too much extra concrete into the landscape.

 

Forbes Street Community Events

After seeking feedback via my last email newsletter and also via printed letters to local residents, we haven’t received much opposition to the monthly street parties on Forbes Street, West End - it seems the vast majority of residents are supportive or unconcerned about them. So we are working with the council and police to formalise support and ensure Forbes St is closed to cars safely and legally between Montague Rd and Early Lane during these events. The street concerts will continue on the last Sunday of each month, from around 3:30pm until sunset.

Finally, before I go, I thought I’d share this video we produced recently, which highlights the great work that’s been along Kulpurum Creek in Hanlon Park (the former southeastern boundary of the Gabba Ward) to restore the old concrete channel to a natural creekway.

Don’t forget to check out the other events below! Hopefully I’ll see you at the Pride Fair Day!


Warm regards,

Jonno