We missed our last fortnightly email, as I had to take a couple days of leave. A few weeks ago on a Friday evening, I tried to calm down a man who was heavily intoxicated, stumbling around on the road and acting aggressively towards members of the public. He punched me in the face, breaking my nose and chipping several teeth, and I was taken to hospital overnight. My nose has been reset (it will always look slightly wonky from now on) and is healing slowly. I’m totally fine now, but I must say that I’m looking forward to a proper break over Christmas.
Depending on how busy we are over the coming fortnight and how many urgent issues I need to notify you about, this might be my last email newsletter before the Christmas break, in which case, merry Christmas and happy new year!
Housing policy forum
Even as house prices start to drop a little, we still have a problem of widespread and rising homelessness and housing insecurity in this city. As I’ve discussed previously, many of the necessary policy responses are under the control of state and federal governments.
However there’s also plenty that local governments like Brisbane City Council could do to help address the ongoing crisis, including a more nuanced approach to land zoning, and targeted rates categories to discourage empty properties and rent-gouging.
To unpack some of this, I’m running a policy forum on Monday evening in the CBD. This is a free, public event. We’ll also be providing a vego BBQ.
Where: Cathedral Square, 410 Ann St, Brisbane CBD (250 metres north of Central Station)
When: Monday, 12 December, 5:30pm to 7:30pm
Please invite anyone you know who might be interested in discussions about the citywide policy responses that could help address this chronic need. It would help us greatly if you can register via this page.
Residents who rely on river-based public transport will be pleased that the Holman St, Sydney St and QUT Gardens Point ferry terminals have finally reopened for operations.
Generally speaking, the city’s newer ferry terminals copped the most damage in the February 2022 floods, and have taken the longest to get back online. This is mainly because these terminal locations are the most vulnerable to being hit by debris (which is also why they are newer - the previous terminals in these locations were destroyed in 2011 and had to be replaced). The remaining older terminals got back into operation faster because they were in less damage-prone locations to begin with.
BCC has outsourced so much maintenance and design expertise that it no longer has sufficient staff in-house to repair and maintain its assets, and had to first get experts to assess the damage, estimate repair costs, then go out to tender to get more contractors to actually undertake the work. There are also very few private contractors in Brisbane with the relevant skills and staffing capacity, which compounds the problem.
Work was also delayed slightly because the council didn’t want to proceed with repair works until its insurers confirmed the insurance would cover the kind of work that was proposed.
BCC has said the Maritime Museum, UQ St Lucia and Milton ferry terminals will reopen in the next couple of weeks, but hasn’t yet confirmed a date. We still have no idea when work will start on upgrading and replacing the Dockside terminal so that ferry services can return to the eastern side of Kangaroo Point. I remain very disappointed in the way the council administration has handled this project, and I’ve been regularly raising concerns through internal channels.
Bus network review - help us improve the 192!
As explained on this web page, BCC is proposing significant changes to the bus network which will take effect in late 2024 once the Metro vehicles are in operation along the South East Busway.
However there’s currently no proposal to improve the 192 operating hours, even though this is a key service connecting UQ Lakes, Dutton Park, Highgate Hill, Montague Rd and the CBD (and the only service running along Dornoch Tce in Highgate Hill). We are calling for the 192 to run on weekends and nights, not just weekdays.
It would help us if you fill out the council’s online survey to explain that you want the 192 operating hours extended, and also email the mayor (at [email protected]) and the transport minister (at [email protected]) to underscore this message.
Should we relocate a Blue Cityglider bus stop?
Separately to the Bus Network Review, the council is also considering whether to relocate a Blue Cityglider bus stop from Montague Rd near Cordeaux St (Stop 14) to Montague Rd near Raven St (Stop 12 - closer to the Montague Markets shopping centre). BCC has formally resolved to delegate this consultation to my office, and will take my advice on whether to move the stop or keep it where it is.
If the Blue Cityglider stop changes from Cordeaux St to Raven St, only the 192 service will continue to stop near Cordeaux St.
I believe decisions like this should be made by local residents, not politicians. So we’ve launched a direct online poll about it. If you haven’t already done so, you can cast your vote via this link. Residents who don’t have internet access can call my office on 3403 2165 to make sure their vote is counted.
At the time of writing, about 80 residents have voted in the poll, and it seems the vast majority support relocating the stop closer to Montague Markets. Please have your say.
South Bank Masterplan
As mentioned in my previous email, South Bank Corporation is seeking public feedback on its draft master plan. I’m pleased that they’ve extended the public feedback period until 31 January. I encourage you to view the plan at this link or find summary information via this link, then give feedback via their survey at this link.
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 traveling between Woolloongabba and the William Jolly Bridge at South Brisbane)
- 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 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)
There’s a lot of good stuff in the draft masterplan, but I definitely think it can be improved further with more public input.
Enhancing green space in Highgate Hill
The western end of Beaconsfield Street in Highgate Hill is closed to cars, and functions as public green space (although it’s not an official public park). Recently we got a few more trees planted around the edge of this space, and this Saturday morning, local residents are running a working bee to mulch more of the space, clear some invasive weeds, and help the block eventually evolve into a more complex multi-layered forest ecosystem.
If you’d like to help out with the working bee, or just meet your neighbours and reflect on how much more green space could be created in the inner-city if we closed more sections of road to cars, come along to the corner of Beaconsfield St and Derby St from 8am this Saturday. (Make sure you bring a hat and a water bottle!)
If you live in or regularly visit West End, please remember to cast your vote regarding the proposed Cityglider relocation. Other community events are listed below.
If I don’t speak to you again beforehand, have a merry Christmas and a happy new year!