Lately I’ve been thinking a bit about the radical potential of local government, and how the fact that we’ve had the LNP running Brisbane City Council for such a long time means we often overlook the many ways that we could transform our society for the better if we had a more progressive local council. I’ve written a few thoughts about the topic that you can read at this link if you’re interested.
In yesterday’s council meeting, I had a go at moving a motion to slightly restrict construction noise in residential areas. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it didn’t get much support from the LNP.
Important: South Bank Master Plan
After many delays, South Bank Corporation has released its draft master plan, which is intended to guide how the precinct will evolve over coming decades. They’re calling for public feedback on the draft masterplan until 14 December (I think this is too short a timeframe for such a major document). If you believe we should have a longer public consultation period for this draft masterplan, you could consider writing to the Deputy Premier, Steven Miles at [email protected].
Similar to most city council and state government planning exercises, South Bank’s consultation process is unclear about how much weight they will give to submissions and feedback from the general public, compared with feedback from major stakeholders such as the business sector, the Department of Transport, QPAC, the Maritime Museum etc.
There are lots of positive elements in the draft masterplan, including:
- improving safety for pedestrians and cyclists along Grey St
- connecting the publicly accessible riverfront esplanade along the Maritime Museum site frontage
- creating more spaces along the riverfront where the public can get right up to the water’s edge
- slight increases to greenery and tree canopy cover throughout the precinct
- closing off parts of Little Stanley Street to cars
I’m still working my way through the document to understand it all. But so far, some of my main concerns with the draft master plan include:
- it still proposes to maintain through-traffic access all the way along Grey Street (this is a poor outcome - Grey St should not be open as a route for cars and trucks travelling between Woolloongabba and the William Jolly Bridge, it should only be open to cars and delivery vehicles accessing local destinations)
- It seeks to retain some short-term street parking on Grey St and surrounding streets, which is definitely not necessary considering how much off-street underground parking there is at South Bank - street parking bay space is better utilised for pedestrian footpaths, bike lanes and street trees
- The proposal for more low-set riverfront restaurants underneath the cultural forecourt in front of QPAC raises technical questions about how resilient these commercial uses will be to flooding, and how service and delivery vehicles will access these businesses
- Depending on how it’s implemented, the plan could lead to a proliferation of higher-end businesses with more fine dining and boutique hospitality venues, but comparatively few affordable options for food and drink
- The plan offers no detail about how shared spaces will actually be managed and controlled to ensure they remain accessible to the general public - I’m concerned that the escalating over-regulation of public spaces is tending to persecute and marginalise homeless and vulnerable people
- It doesn’t offer any new ideas to activate the dead and desolate frontages of the Brisbane Convention Centre (the sides fronting onto Merivale St and Melbourne St in particular would benefit from greater ground-level activation)
As well as filling out the online survey, South Bank is also inviting residents to attend one of their ‘community drop-in sessions’ so you can ask more questions and give feedback in person. Details of the session times, dates and locations are available at this link.
Active travel studies
As mentioned in my last email newsletter, BCC is running an online consultation about how it can improve active transport safety and convenience along Vulture St, Boundary St and Melbourne St in West End, and around the northern end of Kangaroo Point.
These consultations are due to close on 21 November, and will shape the allocation of State Government funding which has been publicly committed to South Brisbane bikeways and the Kangaroo Point riverwalk.
I encourage residents to participate in this consultation process and remind BCC of the importance of safely separating bikes and scooters from other modes of transport along busy roads, and completing the Kangaroo Point riverwalk as soon as possible.
South Brisbane study - https://yoursay.brisbane.qld.gov.au/south-brisbane-active-travel-study
Kangaroo Point study - https://yoursay.brisbane.qld.gov.au/kangaroo-point-active-travel-study
Amy MacMahon and I have organised a few info sessions to share our thoughts about what we think the priorities are, and to take questions from residents. Thanks to the residents who came along to our first session at AHEPA Hall on 30 October.
We will be hosting two more info sessions at the following times/locations:
Session 2: Kangaroo Point Riverwalk
Where: Mowbray Park, East Brisbane (near the playground and toilet block)
When: Sunday, 13 November, 10am to 11am
Session 3: West End/South Brisbane Bike Lanes
Where: Musgrave Park, South Brisbane as part of the Meanjin Reggae Festival (look for the ‘Radical Futures Lounge’)
When: Saturday 19 November, 2pm to 3pm
Composting green waste to reduce landfill
As some of you would be aware, Brisbane households can order a ‘green waste’ wheelie bin to collect organic garden waste (e.g. leaf litter, branches etc) to be composted by the council. Putting green waste in a dedicated bin is much better than putting it into the red-lidded standard wheelie bin, where it will end up in landfill rather than being composted.
A green waste bin collection service currently costs $23.42 on the quarterly rates bill (roughly $1.80 per week). If you’re a renter and you’ve asked your landlord for a green bin but they’ve refused, feel free to get in touch with my office, as we are happy to advocate to your landlord or agent on your behalf.
Of course, if you do have space in your own yard, it’s usually much more sustainable to just compost garden waste at home and keep all those nutrients on your own property.
BCC is gradually rolling out a new pilot program of also collecting food waste from kitchens in the green waste wheelie bin. In a few specific areas of the city, you can now also put vegetarian food waste in your green bin to be composted (but not meat or dairy). One of these areas is around Dutton Park and the southern side of Woolloongabba (the choice of area is based on garbage truck collection routes) - view the map at this link. The council is still expanding its capacity to safely and hygienically compost more food waste from more households.
Of course, as with yard waste, it is much more sustainable and cost-effective if you can minimise food waste in the first place, and compost it at home to add nutrient-rich soil to your own garden beds and pot plants, rather than getting it collected by garbage trucks. Composting your own food waste doesn’t have to take up a lot of space or time. I even do it on my houseboat using two small compost bins and a couple of sealed tubs that I rotate between.
Getting more renters and apartment residents onto solar power
Next Thursday evening, 17 November, I’ll be cohosting an online forum about the Haystacks Solar Garden, a cooperative project where people can buy a share in a collectively-owned solar panel array and use the renewable energy it generates to offset your power bill.
This is a decentralised, non-profit option for renters and apartment residents to access renewable energy that you own and control, even if you can’t get solar panels installed on the roof of your own home.
The info session starts at 6pm and should wrap up by 7pm. You can register for the session via this link.
Seeking feedback on how I seek feedback on Blue CityGlider bus stops
Before I initiate a new consultation process about a local issue, I like to think about how it will be structured so we can maximise informed participation using our very stretched and limited resources.
Following a large petition from residents, I’ll soon be launching a community poll on whether to ask council to relocate one of the Blue Cityglider bus stops. Currently, the Cityglider stops near Cordeaux St, West End towards the southern end of Montague Rd, but doesn’t stop at the Montague Markets/Woolworths.
The residents’ petition wanted an extra Cityglider stop near Montague Markets, but BCC doesn’t want to add more stops - the council is only willing to relocate an existing stop. This means that if we made the change, only the 192 would stop near Cordeaux St.
A local consultation process about this decision is never going to reach absolutely everyone who is potentially affected by it, and I want to be confident that the outreach methods we use don’t skew the responses too much.
Given our past experiences and feedback that online channels are more accessible for more people than in-person meetings, I’m proposing to run an online poll as the main feedback channel, with an option for residents who don’t have the internet to call or write to my office to have their vote counted.
The poll will be promoted:
- in our next printed newsletter, delivered to letterboxes across the entire Gabba Ward electorate
- via signs at all bus stops along Montague Rd south of Victoria St
- via my email newsletters and my main social media channels (e.g. Facebook, Twitter)
I’ll also hang out at the existing Cordeaux St Cityglider bus stops and the existing Montague Markets 192 bus stops on a few occasions to catch people for face-to-face conversations and make sure they know to vote in the poll.
I intend that the poll will remain open for about two months, so that we can lock in a decision early next year.
I’m hoping this approach will cast a wide enough net. I’m mindful that if I directly approach specific groups and stakeholders (such as body corporate committees etc) to encourage their feedback, that could distort the representativeness of the responses.
Relocating a bus stop is a relatively small decision in the grand scheme of things, but I want to be sure residents don’t have any concerns about the proposed decision-making process before I kick it off. It’s likely that the council will accept whatever outcome I recommend (either keeping the Cityglider stop at Cordeaux St or relocating it to Ferry Rd/Raven St).
If you do have any concerns about this approach to consultation, please let me know ASAP. I’d prefer to avoid a situation where people who are unhappy with the outcome instead try to contest the legitimacy of the process (as is often the case with community consultation).
A medium-sized tree will be removed soon outside 66 Ernest Street, beside the South Bank Tafe site. The tree is completely dead and will be replaced by a new tree (Melaleuca viridiflora species) in the same location, so I don’t have any concerns about this one.
I do remain concerned however that Energex is still a little overzealous about removing trees that are growing anywhere near overhead power lines. Recently their contractors were about to remove two jacaranda trees growing along Annerley Rd just south of Gloucester St, but we heard about it in time and were able to stop them. If ever you hear about Energex planning to remove a tree that you think should be retained, please get in touch with my office as soon as possible.
Alright, that’s probably enough of an information dump for this week. Don’t forget to check out the other community events listed below.