Please note that some of the info in these newsletters (especially event listings) can go out of date quite quickly. Newsletter date: 03/03/2023
You might have noticed that this week’s email newsletter is coming from a different mailing address. Apparently the emails from our other address have been getting caught up in spam filters more often, so if you feel like you haven’t heard from us in a while, you might want to check your junk email/spam email folder. You can also find recent past newsletters and other updates via our website at this link.
Recent video resources
For those who are new to this mailing list, you should check out some of the short videos we’ve produced over the past 12 months about various topics…
Understanding the transformational potential of local government
Restoring creek channels as natural wildlife corridors
How did the February 2022 floods impact high-density neighbourhoods?
How can we find more room for green space in Brisbane’s inner-south side?
Lord Mayor’s bizarre proposal for 90-storey highrises in South Brisbane
We still don't have many details yet, but this week the LNP mayor announced that he wants to rezone part of South Brisbane to allow highrise towers up to 90 storeys tall around northern Montague Road and surrounding streets on the Kurilpa riverfront.
I’m firmly opposed to this. The area in question is one of the most flood-prone parts of the inner-city, and is the last place in Brisbane that we should be concentrating more residential development.
The main reason that this area is mostly industrial sites and that previous generations never built housing there is that it floods so badly.
Putting aside what you think about height limits (personally I think 90 storeys is too tall), this is the part of South Brisbane that was supposed to be turned into public parkland to cater for all the high-density development that's happening elsewhere in the Kurilpa Peninsula.
People who live in apartments are more reliant on public green space than residents in free-standing homes, because they don't have private backyards. If we want high-density living to be an attractive option for more people, we need it to be accompanied by investment in local public green space and better active transport options. But in this case, the sites that were meant to be set aside for parkland are instead proposed to be developed as private highrise. It's bonkers!
I'm particularly frustrated because there is no proposal for public housing - it's basically a wet dream for private developers. Whoever happens to own the land at the time it is rezoned will benefit from a massive increase in real estate values without even building anything. A few private developers and land speculators are making a lot of profit without contributing anything towards the cost of new infrastructure and community facilities (e.g. libraries, parks, pedestrian crossings, bike lanes).
With existing zoning already supporting a further 20 000 dwellings in West End and South Brisbane, frankly I don't see how the council can add another 10 000 dwellings in the area without causing serious capacity issues for local schools. This is a glorified brain fart from the council administration, but I'm worried that some people will actually take it seriously.
It can’t happen without State Government support though, so I implore you to write to the Deputy Premier and Planning Minister Steven Miles via [email protected] to offer respectful, rational arguments for why the mayor’s proposed rezoning of the northern end of South Brisbane should not be supported, and why this land should be reserved as public parkland.
Kangaroo Point bridge work and footpath closures
Work is proceeding on the Kangaroo Point footbridge, with the council currently saying it will open late next year. You can find regular construction updates on the council website at this link.
Residents should take note that the riverside pathway which runs through CT White Park from near Thornton Street to Hamilton St will be closing between 9am and 4pm weekdays until late March to facilitate construction work. I’m not particularly happy about this, as it raises significant accessibility concerns, but the project managers insist it’s necessary and unavoidable. So don’t get caught out by this footpath closure! You might see the pathway open in the mornings on your way to work, but if you’re coming back before 4pm, the pathway will most likely be closed.
Crucially, the Kangaroo Point bridge project still does not include a safe pedestrian crossing over Deakin Street for people using the new Story Bridge underpass to get to and from the new footbridge. If you agree that we need a safe pedestrian crossing over Deakin St, please email the mayor at [email protected] and ask him to fund a pedestrian crossing connecting from the northern side of Darragh St over Deakin St to the underpass in the council’s next annual budget.
Saying no to the Olympics at the Gabba
While many people now seem to think it’s too late to stop Brisbane hosting the Olympics altogether, my consultation with various stakeholders has convinced me that we should continue to oppose the Gabba being used as the main athletics stadium. The proposal to demolish the current stadium and build a new, larger one is a phenomenal waste of public funds. The government currently estimates it will cost $2.7 billion, but I think the true cost will easily exceed $3 billion in today’s dollars.
Apart from the waste of money and resources, the losses of East Brisbane State School and Kangaroo Point’s Raymond Park in such a rapidly growing neighbourhood are very poor outcomes for the local community, and don’t make sense from an urban planning perspective, as it will lead to people driving further and more often to access green space and schools in other neighbourhoods.
But the broader impacts in terms of traffic disruption, noise and dust pollution, displacement of homes and small businesses, and inflationary pressure on housing costs around Woolloongabba and Kangaroo Point also all mean that the costs and impacts of demolishing and rebuilding the Gabba significantly outweigh the supposed benefits.
I’ll be working with my state and federal colleagues to advocate for alternatives to the Gabba, while also simultaneously continuing to argue that if the Gabba is to become the main Olympic stadium, we need a new public school within the existing Kangaroo Point/Woolloongabba/East Brisbane catchment, and we need Raymond Park preserved as a public green space.
The State Government is currently running a sham consultation about the future of East Brisbane State School, asking the community to choose between three crappy options:
- New primary school built outside the catchment within the Coorparoo Secondary College site (causing significant construction-related disruption to CSC students)
- Restructure Coorparoo Secondary College as a prep to year 12 school (again disrupting existing CSC students and failing to provide an in-catchment schooling option)
- Shutting down East Brisbane State School without a replacement, forcing students to instead attend Buranda, Dutton Park or Coorparoo State Schools, all of which already have their own capacity issues.
It’s outrageous that the government is not offering the community a single option that ensures a public primary school will remain within the rapidly growing Kangaroo Point/Woolloongabba/East Brisbane neighbourhood.
I encourage residents to fill out the government survey and select ‘Strongly Disagree’ for all three proposed options, and skip any questions that require you to rank choices or indicate a preference for one over the other. Residents should use the open comments fields to clearly articulate that none of the 3 options are acceptable, and that if the government can’t deliver a public school at a different location within the existing East Brisbane State School catchment, then the Gabba should be discarded as the main athletics venue choice for the Olympics.
Upcoming policy forums - Streets for People and Public Transport Planning
I’ve realised over the past few years that many of the transport issues we experience in the Gabba Ward - particularly in terms of traffic congestion - are directly connected to poor public and active transport planning and services in other parts of the city. If people living in Coorparoo or Enoggera don’t have viable alternatives to driving, or can’t easily walk through their neighbourhoods to get to a bus or train station, that means more traffic congestion in suburbs like Woolloongabba and West End.
We’ve been having community conversations in the inner-south side for years about the need for better public and active transport options, so now I’m organising a couple of forums to help spread these ideas to other parts of the city.
On Sunday, 19 March, we’re holding a forum at Holland Park Sports Club called ‘Streets for People’ where we discuss citywide policy options and priorities to make our streets into useable public spaces that prioritise pedestrians ahead of cars. We’ll be discussing issues like wheelchair accessibility, planting more street trees, intersection timings, local speed limits, bike lanes etc.
Please come along if you’d like to get participate in these discussions and register via this page.
Where: Holland Park Sports Club, 49 Abbotsleigh St, Holland Park
When: Sunday, 19 March, 2:30 to 4:30pm
Then on Saturday, 25 March, we’re organising a forum at Mitchelton Library called ‘How do we make public transport a genuine alternative?’ where we explore options to make public transport more reliable, affordable and accessible.
Where: Mitchelton Library, 37 Heliopolis Parade, Mitchelton
When: Saturday, 25 March, 2:15 to 4:30pm
Further details and registration via this link.
Both events are free entry and include free afternoon tea, so please come along and invite your friends!
Have you ridden West End’s new free bus yet?
We’ve recently secured a new free bus service (the route 86) that runs 7 days per week, looping between West End and South Brisbane. (More info at this link) I’d love your feedback on whether you find it useful and what changes I should be advocating for to ensure more people can use it.
Currently the service runs from 10am to 11pm (mostly because this is what some of the larger businesses and organisations down at South Bank were lobbying for), but I’ve suggested to the council that it might be better to start it from 8am, at least on weekdays and Saturdays. The service would be a great way to get between South Bank and the Davies Park markets, but currently it’s not very useful for early Saturday morning market trips because it doesn’t start until 10am. Please let me know if you have feedback on the service operating hours and I can pass this on to the transport network planners.
New grants finder
Small businesses, community groups and event organisers might be interested to learn that the council has set up a new ‘Funding Finder’ portal to help people identify which community grants and council programs they might be able to seek BCC support for. You can access it at this link. I haven’t used it much myself yet, but hopefully it’s helpful. If you do use it and have any insights or feedback on its functionality, please let us know.
With such a busy, rapidly-developing area of the city, there’s always more to say about what’s going on locally, but this newsletter is already getting pretty long, so I’ll leave it there for now. Check out the other upcoming community events listed below!
Community meeting for a new verge garden on Gloucester St
Sun, 05 Mar, 05:00pm
A group of Highgate Hill residents will be meeting on the corner of Gloucester Street and Stephens Road on Sunday to discuss the opportunity of a community garden in this location. They will be assessing the type of garden we want (vision) and the way forward to ensure sustainability. Please invite any friends and family along who would be interested in getting involved!
Luku Ngarra : Film Screening and Fundraiser
Sun, 05 Mar, 07:00pm
A special fundraiser screening and Q & A with senior Yolngu law man, Rev Dr Djiniyini Gondarra OAM, who has been fighting for the political and spiritual freedom of his people for over 40 years. Winner of the ‘Change Award’ at the Adelaide Film Festival 2022, this independent Indigenous funded film is an unflinching presentation of how the dominant paradigm has forced itself upon the lives of First Nations people, creating chaos and devastation to their everyday lives, their culture and their law. Tickets $25 ▸
Clean up Australia Day
Sun, 05 Mar, 12:00am
Every year thousands of Australians take part in Clean Up Australia Day, helping to clean up our local parks, streets, beaches and bushland, and conserve our beautiful environment. On behalf Brisbane City Council, Brisbane Sustainability Agency coordinates Clean Up Australia Day volunteers and activities throughout Brisbane. There are dozens of groups meeting throughout the weekend across the ward, click the link to find a CUAD activity happening near you! Find a group to join ▸
Regenerate Brisbane: Streets for People
Sun, 19 Mar, 02:30pm–04:30pm
What would it look like if our streets were designed to prioritise the needs of people, not vehicles? How would our communities change if we lowered speed limits, widened footpaths, improved pedestrian crossings, planted more shade trees and created separated bike lanes on busy streets? Join Cr Jonathan Sriranganathan for a community forum to discuss all of these questions and more, to determine what it would be like if we designed streets for people, not cars. Bring along your thoughts, ideas and experiences, and help us brainstorm a vision for a more pedestrian-friendly city. Free afternoon-tea provided. Register online ▸ | Facebook event ▸
Regenerate Brisbane: How do we make public transport a genuine alternative?
Sat, 25 Mar, 02:15pm
On the northside, cars are considered the most convenient, reliable and safest option to get around. But cars are expensive to own, take up a disproportionate amount of space, contribute to climate change, and are a constant source of frustration through traffic. What's getting in the way of providing reliable alternatives? Why haven't we improved service frequency, reliability, and accessibility? How do we make people feel safer on public transport? Join Cr Jonathan Sriranganathan for a free community afternoon tea and discussion of future actions our local government can take to address public transport issues. Register online ▸ | Facebook event ▸
Health Home Hope - A photographic exhibition on housing and health.
Sat, 01 Apr, 10:00am–04:00pm
“Tell the story of what health looks and feels like, and what it means to you” is the prompt the exhibition contributors with lived experience of homelessness were given alongside a digital camera. The captioned photographs depict how homelessness results in considerable suffering. Yet, they also tell stories of ingenuity and solidarity in the pursuit of health. This exhibition reimagines ‘health’ in the context of housing instability as something that is lived and done in relation with others. What is it then, that needs to be done to support the health practices of people who are unstably housed? The exhibtion will be available to view across the weekend from 10-4pm on Saturday and 10am-2pm on Sunday. No registration necessary. ▸
Ongoing Fundraising Campaign for 'Charlie,' a short film about homelessness
Fri, 03 Mar, 12:00am
'Charlie,' is a short film written and directed by award-winning West End filmmaker Mel Poole based on the true story of a man who ended up homeless on the streets of Brisbane. The film tells of the tragic event that led to a Brisbane man's fall from a normal life to the streets and his first steps to self forgiveness for the death of his family in a car accident. This important project will change the way people view the homeless and drive support to end this ever-increasing social issue. Donations are being sought via the Australian Cultural Fund to support the projects production. All donations are tax deductible. Donate via the link ▸