As a councillor, I tend to take a very hardline position in opposing any unjustified tree removals that are proposed simply to facilitate a new development. However sometimes, it's necessary to remove a tree that's rotten or unhealthy, particularly if lots of people use the area around the tree and there's a higher risk that it might fall onto someone.
There's a fig tree in Davies Park near Riverside Drive that's infected by a root rot disease called phellinus noxius, which is likely to eventually kill the tree or weaken it so much that it falls over in a storm.
The council arborists have recommended the tree be removed, and have also consulted with independent arborists. Having read the reports from the independent arborists, I think it's reasonable to remove the tree. This will also create space to redesign this sloped bank in Davies Park and prevent some of the ongoing erosion in the area. We might look to plant a different species of replacement tree (such as a kauri pine or bunya pine) because if we plant a replacement fig tree in the same location, there's a higher likelihood that it will also succumb to phellinus noxius.
In the interests of transparency, I'm publishing the independent arborist report and accompanying technical report (with the names of the individual arborists removed for privacy reasons). If you have any questions, email email@example.com and we can put you in touch with arborists in council who can talk you through the details.
A lot of residents are rightly sceptical whenever council removes trees, but I think in this case the removal seems reasonable.
First Nations peoples have been sustainably nurturing and farming this country for tens of thousands of years. Prior to invasion and the arrival of British ships, there was no food crisis on this continent. Food sovereignty, including control over food production and distribution systems, is a crucial element of resisting and counteracting colonial imperialism and racist exploitation.
The Gabba Ward office works within a settler government on occupied lands of the Jagera, Yugara, Yugarapul, and Turrbal Peoples. We pay our respects to the rightful custodians of these lands, and we acknowledge that many past wrongs and continuing injustices are yet to be rectified. Sovereignty was never ceded. This always was, and always will be, Aboriginal land.
Background to the Project
We were inspired by the spontaneous surge in local residents wanting to grow their own food as the COVID crisis emerged. At the same time we were contacted by local residents with a similar vision to our own, wanting to empower the community to grow healthy locally-grown food in public spaces that is not reliant on big corporations. So, at short notice our office swung into action committing some office resources and local grant budget to support a range of local community-led initiatives that we called the ‘Food Resilient Neighbourhoods’ project.
As part of this project we were able to support the creation of edible verge gardens, seedling hubs, urban farms and community orchards. These community-led projects were not just a response to the COVID crisis but also a positive protest against the power imbalances, inequities and the resulting crisis (like climate change), that undermine secure access to nutritious food. Consequently our project was not only focused on producing food, but it was driven by a larger vision to participate in a reconstruction of our whole food system, based on principles of food resilience, food justice and mutual aid. Many of the projects also utilised principles of guerilla gardening, including the reclaiming of unused land and not waiting for ‘official’ permission, which often never comes.
How secure is our food system?
As the pandemic emptied shelves and supermarkets became bare, people became more aware of the inadequacy of our food supply systems and the corporate supermarkets’ inability to provide food security. It is not just overseas supply chains that are vulnerable to disruption, but also food that is grown in the northern parts of Queensland and then trucked down the east coast. As a result, and to prepare for future moments of crises, more and more people began to grow their own food, which meant that food seedlings were hard to come by for some months.
What is food resilience & food justice?
Resilience implies more participatory food systems, where communities can cope with the shocks and uncertainty facing food systems today. Food resilience ensures all people at all times have access to sufﬁcient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life.
With a really large network of verge gardens, backyard gardens, community gardens and urban farms, we could potentially grow a lot of produce within the city core and make our communities less reliant on commodified sources of food production. Our project also embraces the philosophy of food justice. Food Justice envisions a food system that is inclusive, community-led and participatory, without the exploitation of people, land, or the environment. To achieve this means removing the structural inequities that exist within our food and economic systems.
One of the first projects that got off the ground was a collective of 3 seedling hubs in West End and Highgate Hill. The seedling hubs are a space where residents can swap locally-germinated seedlings and seeds without having to go through big commercial plant suppliers.
Germinating and swapping heirloom plant varieties helps preserve genetic diversity and prevents the homogenisation and monopolisation of seed stock by big companies that patent seed species for profit. Seedling hubs provide a perfect tool for networking with our neighbours and also fostering a connection to plants and growing our own food, which effectively creates more resilient and self-sustaining communities.
This project has been set up by the residents themselves and our office has provided funds for the initial purchase of soil and seeds.
We have three hubs so far:
- Corner of Crowther & Victoria St, West End
- Gertrude St, Highgate Hill
- Rosebery St, Highgate Hill
How to Participate
- Participating in the seedling exchange is free and everyone is encouraged to bring their excess to share or swap with their neighbours.
- Label any plants you bring along and please return pots and labels so the team can minimise costs and keep putting plants out.
Give the Facebook Page a like and keep up to date with the project.
We are keen to make the Gabba Ward notorious for having vibrant and lush gardens along the footpaths rather than just concrete or bare lawns; that’s why we are big fans of verge gardening. Planting up your verge is not just a great way to green your street, but it will also help create more shade which can improve walkability and reduce city temperatures.
Verge space can be used to grow more fresh food locally helping to reduce food mileage, positively impact mental health and develop community resilience during times of crisis, such as the one we have been experiencing during COVID.
Projects like this, that essentially reclaim or repurpose public space, are about reminding people that they can have control over their immediate neighborhood and that they do have a collective right to curate, and regenerate spaces.
Brisbane City Council allows residents to plant out their verges and take care of this public space, as long as you garden with care for your neighbors, don't block pedestrian flows or parked cars and don’t intervene with underground pipelines. My office is happy to support a more creative use of this public space including the planting of fruit trees if residents plan out the planting and upkeep of the plants responsibly.
As part of the planting project, we sponsored three rounds of verge planting days where residents planted out their verges.
Crowther St Planting - March 14th 2020
Our first round centered on Crowther Street with 8 households planting over 120 seedlings in their verges. One of our visions was for this street to act as an inspiration to other local streets on how verge planting can transform the streetscape. We closed off the street for half a day and put on an unofficial planting party with BBQ, music and scooter races. The verge gardens have been blooming on Crowther street and we recommend you go there for a wander one Saturday morning and get inspired by the collective spirit of the residents to beautify their quiet West End street. One of the beautiful parts of this project was that the compost was supplied from the local community garden, it was compost created by the community for the collective benefit of the ward’s residents.
Here is a great little video of the day, produced by Christine Schindler (on a voluntary basis). You can see more of her work here.
Photos from Crowther St Planting Day
Gabba Ward Wide (COVID safe) Verge Planting - May 30th & 27th June 2020
50 households across the Gabba Ward planted out their verges with free fruit trees, under-story perennial greens and herbs on two sunny Saturday mornings. We partnered with Jane St Community Garden who helped design and coordinate the project. Our office supplied Verge Garden Starter packs to each household of 2 fruit trees, 8 under-story seedlings, approx 150 litres of mulch and 200-300 litres of high grade organic soil.
Jane Street Garden Coordinator Melissa Smrecnik, Gardening activist Morgyn Quin and the Gabba Ward staff created a template verge garden which could be easily adapted to any verge. The simple design was two focal fruit trees with 4 easy growing perennial greens and herbs around each of the trees.
We produced an instructional video for our verge planters, which we hope will help other residents with their independent planting in the future.
And some photos from the Gabba-wide verge plantings
Three new urban farming projects have been established by a group of local gardening activists, with the support of our office. The gardeners are working collectively under the umbrella of Growing Forward Brisbane (Meanjin), a social movement which is about trying to reclaim government land that has been misused or abandoned. The collective has engaged a lot of local residents in learning about growing food, learning about community and learning about how to be more resilient in the face of pandemics and climate induced natural disasters. Growing Forward is about connecting to each other, and to the land that surround us, and also challenging systems that aren't serving us.
The farms have been set up at the following locations. Message the Growing Forward Facebook page if you live nearby and would like to help caring for the veggies.
- 250 Boundary St, southern riverside end (on abandoned State Government land).
- Dutton Park hilltop, near the basketball court (on Brisbane City Council parkland)
- Raymond Park, cnr Wellington Rd & Baines St (Brisbane City Council parkland)
End of Boundary St
Dutton Park Hilltop
Another part of the project has been supporting initiatives to create community orchards of fruit trees planted in parks and other public spaces. In many places the earth is really diluted and dry and needs to be cared for in a genuine way. There's nothing that can do that as well as the roots of trees and the relationships between the microbiology of the soil. Trees have so many benefits for the environment and when they provide us with fresh produce it gets even better.
Highgate Hill Park
For sometime a small community orchard has been growing in Highgate Hill Park, looked after by a few volunteers. With our support this has now been upgraded with another 25 fruit trees added to the boundary of the park and sloping areas that are not used as open green space. We have about 35 trees there now. If you would like to help watering or nurturing this orchard please contact our office.
We held a community planting day of over 20 local residents who planted approx 30 fruit trees, including avocado, mulberry and a few citrus varieties at Raymond Park, Kangaroo Point. The plantings are in coordination but also separate to the Raymond park urban farm. They are being cared for by a group of local residents. if you would like to get involved please contact our office or the Growing Forward FB page.
We are doing what we can to support local composting to divert more waste from landfill. We are supporting residents to set up new household communal compost hubs to share with their neighbours. The best way to do this is through the ShareWaste system (see below). Composting is a great way to build an understanding of where our food comes from and reminds us our valuable our kitchen scraps can be in the composting and growing cycle.
Home-based Composting Hubs / ShareWaste
We already have about 16 households in the Gabba Ward open to receiving food scraps. We have surveyed the composters and they are really happy with using the ShareWaste system, but they need more people delivering their food scraps to their home composters.
To contribute food scraps to one of these hubs, it’s simple:
- Get on the ShareWaste website, register yourself, then
- Find the closest home composter on their mapping system. Once you have found someone nearby
- Send them a message to let them know you will be dropping off food scraps from time to time so they can manage the loads.
- The composter will then send you their exact address details.
To set up your own compost hub:
- Once your compost system is set up in the front yard (easily accessible for drop offs), you can register with ShareWaste.
- Your address is only given out by you individually to neighbours who message you directly through the site - so you can control how many people are delivering food scraps.
- We may be able to support you with vouchers for free compost bins. Email our office on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Community Composting Hubs
Brisbane City Council has partnered with a number of community gardens around Brisbane to help residents turn kitchen scraps into nutrients for soil. We currently only have one official BCC composting hub in the Gabba Ward
- Jane St Community Garden, West End.
It's a lot of work for the volunteer gardeners and as this is the only Community Composting Hub in our ward it gets a lot of food scraps delivered.
Free Compost Caddies
BCC are also providing free kitchen compost caddies to collect your food scraps at home and then take them to your nearest community composting hub. We have them available in The Gabba Ward office for collection. Just jump online and register for one via this link.
The council registration system is only set up for larger composting hubs and we only have one in our Ward at Jane St Community Garden - so when you register via the website, just indicate that Jane St is where you will be dropping off your scraps. It's fine to use it as part of the ShareWaste program instead.
BCC Home Compost Vouchers
Brisbane City Council have recently set up a new compost rebate program. The program provides eligible Brisbane residents a rebate of up to $70 off the purchase of eligible composting equipment. Make sure you register first to get your voucher number before buying your compost bin, worm farm or bokashi, otherwise they won't refund you.
Food Justice Resources: www.communitycentredknowledge.org/food-justice/food-justice-resources/
What is Food Sovereignty? (a Graphic): https://www.instagram.com/p/CHtppkzFuhx/
Sovereign Soil Farm in so called Adelaide: https://www.instagram.com/sovereign_soil_farm/
Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe: https://avidreader.com.au/products/dark-emu-1
Ron Finley: Urban Gangsta Gardener in South Central LA | Game Changers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7t-NbF77ceM&t=3s&ab_channel=UPROXX
Foodshare - Get Building & Growing (Helpful Resources from a Project in Toronto): https://foodshare.net/resources/printable/
Mutual Aid (Big Door Brigade by Dean Spade): https://bigdoorbrigade.com/mutual-aid-toolbox/
Pod Mapping for Mutual Aid (by Rebel Sidney Black): Here
Care Work by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha: https://www.akpress.org/carework.html
Expressions of interest for various mural locations in the Gabba Ward close on Monday, 12 October, 2020
Instead of spending it all on concrete and bitumen, we’re allocating a chunk of my local public space upgrades budget towards paying artists to paint murals on toilet blocks and other walls.
We’re looking at paying somewhere in the range of $5000 per mural depending on the size (this figure includes the cost of supplying your own paint and other materials). As part of the contract, artists will also be expected to take responsibility for applying water-proof and tag-proof coatings that are appropriate to the surface.
We’re calling for expressions of interest/concept proposals to paint murals on toilet blocks in the following parks:
- Raymond Park, Kangaroo Point
- Musgrave Park, South Brisbane
- Davies Park, West End (new, larger toilet block)
- Orleigh Park, West End (large toilet block near children’s playground)
- Kangaroo Point Cliffs Park (bunker-style toilet block on Lower River Terrace)
Check out the recent works painted onto the Bunyapa Park toilet block in West End if you want some inspiration.
We’re also seeking proposals/EOIs for undercover walls on:
- Thornton St pedestrian underpass, Kangaroo Point
- Vulture St underpass, South Brisbane (between Stephens Rd and South Bank train station)
Only artists who can show proof of completing previous outdoor mural projects are eligible to apply. Artists will require a current ABN.
We are particularly interested in mural concept proposals which are thought-provoking and address topical issues, and/or specifically respond to the surrounding local context of the proposed location. Murals will of course have to be appropriate for display in a public space (e.g. vulgar language or extremely violent imagery is unlikely to be supported). Innovative proposals to paint surfaces on the insides of the toilet cubicles are also welcome.
To submit an EOI, please email email@example.com with ‘Mural Artist EOI’ in the subject line and provide the following:
- name, phone number, address and email address
- 2 to 4 photos of previous murals you’ve worked on
- Contact details for a previous client who is willing to provide a reference (if you’ve never done paid mural work before, you could also provide a reference from an arts festival, arts organisation or lecturer/teacher/mentor who can vouch for your work)
- 50 to 200 words describing the concept you have in mind for a toilet block or underpass – this can be specific to one particular location or a general proposal (you can write more and propose multiple concepts for multiple locations if you wish)
- Nominate which site you are most interested in painting (we will assume that you are generally interested in paid work at any of the locations unless you specify otherwise)
- (Optional) Further web links demonstrating your style and previous work
Expressions of interest close on Monday, 12 October at 5pm. The final decision-making process for selecting artists will depend on the number of EOIs received.
Once we have a clear idea of how much funding we can allocate, and what styles of artwork the council administration is willing to support, we will contact artists to put you in direct contact with council’s contracting team and go through the formal process of being listed as an approved supplier.
Women, non-binary folk, people of colour and First Nations people are particularly encouraged to submit an EOI. Any questions, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 3403 2165.
This mural was painted in Bunyapa Park, West End by Neta-Rie Mabo under a previous round of this project funding. You can see more of Neta-Rie's work at http://instagram.com/mabolous
More and more residents have been asking for the stretch of Riverside Drive Parkland north of Jane St to become car-free. Riverside Drive is designated as public parkland, and it's unusual for so much space in a public park to be used for free car parking.
Based on previous consultation, we have already asked council to remove all street parking to the north of the boat ramp, and are now exploring whether to remove the rest of the parking between Jane St and the boat ramp. Further consultation about the long-term future of the boat-ramp is also required, as the need for vehicles to access the boat ramp is in direct conflict with pedestrian safety.
For now, we're asking whether residents support removing all parking (including boat ramp parking) or if you only support removing street parking on Riverside Drive but would like the boat ramp parking retained for now.
If parking on Riverside Drive itself is removed, residents with limited mobility would still be able park at the end of Jane St or Hockings St in order to access the park. We can explore converting some of the parking on Jane and Hockings Streets into priority parking for people with a disability if necessary. If boat ramp parking is retained, this could also remain available for people with impaired mobility.
The results of this survey will be published via Councillor Sri's website, email list and social media accounts. This survey is not a binding community vote, but will be heavily influential to the decision-making of the Gabba Ward Office (the more people who respond, the more weight the survey results will carry).
For more info on our broader vision and strategy for transport in the inner-south side, check out this page.
Data Use: We are collecting your name and contact details to help guard against duplicate responses and to inform you of the results of the survey. Collecting address details also helps us understand trends regarding whether people living in different neighbourhoods have different views about the survey question. Your data is stored in the dedicated database of Greens Councillor for the Gabba Ward, Jonathan Sri. Your name and contact details will not be shared with Brisbane City Council directly or with other third parties without your express permission.
Here’s another innovative yet common-sense solution to create more public green space in the inner-city…
Let’s cover over the stretch of train line near Gloucester St and Frith St in Highgate Hill to create a new public park!
There are many inner-city neighbourhoods where a train line runs through a suburb at slightly below ground level. We now have the technology, the resources and the engineering skills to cover over these stretches of train line with precast tunnels to create more public space.
The presence of very shallow tunnels would make it difficult to use these sites for buildings that require deep foundations, but they’re a great opportunity to create public green spaces.
The broad area of exposed train line next to Gloucester St was once a train station. It was closed decades ago, mainly because its close proximity to the newer South Bank train station made it a little redundant. But as a result, there's a much wider stretch of public land in this area than along most other train lines.
Some of the major benefits of covering over this stretch of track and converting it to public parkland include:
- Reduced noise pollution for surrounding residents
- Reduced air pollution for surrounding residents
- Turns a major barrier to wildlife movement into a wildlife corridor
- Provides a more direct pedestrian and bikeway link that reduces the need to climb up and down hills
- Depending on where they’re travelling, gives some local pedestrians an alternative route to avoid the difficult crossing at the intersection of Gloucester St and Stephens Rd
- And most importantly: creates over 11 500m2 of new public green space in an area where local parkland is in short supply
The precinct around Stephens Rd and Gloucester St doesn’t have any local parks that you can easily walk to without crossing a main road. Covering over the train line would create a 1.1-hectare public park, with sections that are flat enough to kick a ball or play some cricket. 1.1 hectares is roughly the same size as the main football field at Davies Park, West End. The park could feature a massive all-ages playground with different elements targeted at different age groups.
Creating a green spine through this neighbourhood on the edge of Highgate Hill and South Brisbane could be the first step in a series of linked parks and pathways following the alignment of the train line through to South Brisbane, to dramatically improve pedestrian connectivity.
This idea has been suggested by local resident and environmental engineer, Associate Professor Peter Pollard, who has also proposed that some of the material used to fill up the space above the new tunnels could come from the nearby Cross River Rail excavation. This would potentially reduce the cost and environmental impact of trucking out and disposing of all that excavated fill material.
Of course, you would also want a few metres' depth of decent-quality soil over the top, so that some of the land could be used for fruit trees and a community garden.
This is an amazing opportunity to turn a noisy barrier within the urban landscape into a green community hub. This space would be twice the size of the park at the top of Highgate Hill, and would have room for a whole range of activities and facilities.
I imagine it primarily serving as a well-vegetated quieter park for local residents to walk the dog, hold a picnic, or hang out with friends to escape the hustle and bustle down along the main roads.
It could also serve as a quiet green retreat for patients, family members and staff from the nearby hospital precinct who want to avoid the higher-intensity vibe down at South Bank and the riverside parklands.
Everyone I’ve shared this idea with so far has said something along the lines of: “That’s brilliant! And it seems so logical. Why hasn’t this happened already?”
The main reason is that even if you use precast tunnel segments that you drop in and connect up, it would still probably cost at least $3 million dollars, and the train line is actually State Government land. So it would require a bit of collaboration between State Government and Brisbane City Council. But although $3 million sounds like a lot of money, it’s actually very good value considering that it would create roughly $20 million worth of public parkland.
If we can successfully implement this approach of cut-and-cover train tunnels with parkland above, there are many other neighbourhoods where we could roll out this model. There are other stretches of low-lying train line running through many inner-city suburbs where green space is in short supply.
Obviously we also need council and the State Government to buy back more land to create new public green spaces, but covering over train lines also offers the extra benefits mentioned above. Reducing noise pollution and air pollution from these busy train lines would dramatically improve the quality of life for thousands of residents living within several hundred metres of the train tracks, and direct pedestrian pathways avoids residents having to walk the long way around to get across the tracks.
If you support this idea, please share it around, and tell your friends to vote for the Greens!
We've had some important wins with the Brisbane Metro project, including convincing council to make sure the new vehicles run on electricity rather than diesel. As I've explained previously, Brisbane Metro isn't perfect, but overall it does seem like a step in the right direction.
But the Metro project presents another great opportunity that we don't want the city to miss out on...
Grey St at South Bank is gradually becoming noisier and more dangerous because it's being used as a through-corridor for traffic heading to and from other parts of the city.
This is placing additional strain on the badly congested intersection of Vulture St and Grey St, and is making it harder to support Grey St to become a vibrant, active transport-friendly precinct.
A lot of commuter cyclists continue to ride along the South Bank riverfront because Grey St doesn't feel like a safe riding environment, and local residents living along Grey St have to deal with noisy trucks and faster-moving traffic.
One of the major costs and complications of the Brisbane Metro project is how to redesign the intersection of Melbourne St and Grey St to accommodate high volumes of buses and metro vehicles, as well as pedestrians and cyclists. Anyone who has tried to walk along Melbourne St to South Bank, QPAC or the museum knows how uncomfortable this intersection is for pedestrians.
But what if we were to close Grey Street to through-traffic as part of the Brisbane Metro redevelopment of the Cultural Centre Station ?
We could maintain local vehicle access for residents, businesses and the major South Bank carparks, but close it off just before the intersection with Melbourne Street, to keep through-traffic on Merivale St and Cordelia St where it belongs. This would reinforce Grey St as an active travel precinct, encouraging more walking and cycling, and improving connectivity through to South Bank.
There's another added benefit of closing off Grey Street near Melbourne Street...
We could convert roadway into green space to create a large new public park!
By closing off Grey St to cars just after the QPAC loading dock driveway, we could maintain a turnaround and drop-off zone to access the South Brisbane train station, while preventing cars from travelling through the Grey St-Melbourne St intersection.
A small park or plaza could also be created on the north side of the intersection between Melbourne St and Fish Lane. This plaza would allow for pop-up markets and public events in front of Fish Lane, while retaining a turning lane for buses to get onto the Victoria Bridge if necessary.
All up, we could create almost 5000m2 of new public parkland, right in front of the South Brisbane train station.
As South Brisbane develops and densifies, we need to create new public green space for apartment residents who don't have their own backyards. Converting road space into bikeways, pedestrian boulevards and public parks is a cost-effective and sustainable way to improve inner-city quality of life.
Creating a park on Grey St would bring some much-needed greenery to this hot and heavily concreted precinct, while also offering a much more appealing introduction to South Bank than visitors currently confront when they step out of the South Brisbane train station.
From an active transport perspective, there are so many advantages to this approach, as pedestrians would be able to flow freely from South Brisbane train station to the new Metro station to QPAC, the museum and the South Bank riverfront, without having to wait for cars.
This would also improve the efficiency of other intersections at both ends of Grey St - particularly the intersection of Peel St and Grey St, which could have a greater focus on moving through-traffic travelling via Merivale and Cordelia.
We're not saying this proposal definitely HAS to happen, or is the only way to redesign South Bank. But we wanted to put it out there as another possibility to broaden the parameters of debate and make sure all options are on the table when council and the state government are debating options for redesigning the Culture Centre station as part of the Brisbane Metro project.
The opportunity to create 5000m2 of additional public parkland is not something we should be passing up too hastily.
If you like this idea, please send an email to the mayor via email@example.com to let him know you support closing Grey St, and also email our State MP at South.Brisbane@parliament.qld.gov.au to get her on board too!
The Davies Park Upgrade Project has been in the works for a couple of years now.
It started because I was advocating for more green space around West End.
Instead of actually buying more land for new green spaces, the LNP decided to put a few million dollars into improving Davies Park (which wasn't quite the same, but is still a lot better than nothing).
I topped that up with a few hundred thousand dollars from my local parks budget so that the project would include a full-size basketball court and a small skate facility.
A crucial part of the project is improving drainage. This whole area of West End used to be very swampy, and water naturally pools around various parts of the park, including the sections of the ring road that get very muddy and eroded.
But what BCC didn't tell residents at any stage of the consultation process was that they were planning to run the underground drainage pipe right through the middle of Jane St Community Garden. It seems the Liberals made a decision that they wouldn't tell the public about this until the last minute.
This diagram shows the alignment of the proposed drain. The BCC wasn't going to release this document publicly. My office had to go through a formal Request for Information process to get hold of it.
Just this week, BCC have told Jane St Community Garden that they intend to start construction this November!
Digging a trench for the drainage pipe is going to involve closing off and digging up a significant chunk of the garden and excavating a lot of soil.
Thousands of volunteer hours have gone into creating and caring for this garden space, and it's not yet clear how council intends to compensate the community for this. If you put a dollar value on all the work that's gone into the garden, it would be pretty huge.
What frustrates me is the lack of openness and transparency from council. Instead of keeping the community in the loop and explaining why this is the only option, the council has tried to keep it a secret until after the construction tender was allocated and work is about to start.
If digging up the garden really is the only option, council should at least explain publicly why other options weren't feasible.
These are the questions I've asked the LNP to answer...
- Approximately how much does the drainage component of the project cost based on the current alignment through the garden?
- Approximately how much would it cost to instead run drainage through the football field and out to Jane St via the ring road driveway?
- Approximately how much would it cost to deepen the drain on Montague Rd and run drainage directly to Montague as opposed to out to Jane St? (Council said this wasn't feasible because Montague Rd is higher than the lowest parts of Davies Park)
- Why isn’t it possible to design a drainage system involving on-site retention via natural pools/mini-wetland and dry creek beds as opposed to large underground concrete pipes? How much would this cost?
If you want to support Jane Street Community Garden, the best thing you can do at this stage is to email the Lord Mayor at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask him to publish detailed answers to the above questions on the council website.
To proceed, this project also needs environmental sign-off from the State Government because it's on contaminated land.
I don't want to hold up the entire Davies Park Upgrade. I'm still open to being convinced that this drainage tunnel alignment is the only feasible option, but if I'm going to support the project, I want answers to the above questions.
Maybe instead of spending huge amounts of money on a concrete tunnel to carry rainwater straight out to the river, we could turn a small part of Davies Park into a more natural stormwater retention basin, and drain water into a series of shallow ponds which the community garden could use for irrigation...
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As some of you will be aware, a while back, one of the two large fig trees outside Koko Apartments along Riverside Drive fell down somewhat unexpectedly. It seems this was due to a combination of factors including root rot/various parasitic fungi, and the close proximity of the apartments (which limits the amount of space for the tree roots to expand).
BCC started investigating the health and structural integrity of the remaining fig tree, and after a lot of detailed investigation and trialling different temporary measures, has decided the tree has to be removed because there’s a high risk it will fall over soon.
This is not a decision I have any direct control over (I’ve essentially been told that it doesn’t matter what I think – the safety concerns are too high so the tree has to go). But I’ve asked for the detailed arborist reports to be published. You can view them at these links:
Council has released the final concept design for the expanded park at the corner of Carl St and Tottenham St in Woolloongabba.
After council recently acquired neighbouring properties, we've expanded this park by almost 1000m2. The next step will be to finalise the detailed design and start construction.
I'm reasonably pleased with this design, as it's a pretty close match to the community concept design that we developed through our participatory design process last year.
The project includes an all-ages play area for which the details are still being fleshed out. This will be less like a conventional playground, and more reminiscent of spaces like the Fremantle Parkour Park, encouraging adults and children to play, climb and exercise together.
The park also includes a small community fruit orchard and space for a future community garden (we've included a small storage shed as part of the toilet block design to support the community garden when it eventually gets up and running).
There's a windy secondary path through the park which will eventually be concreted, which improves disability access and provides a circuit connecting to the main path for younger kids to learn to ride their bikes on.
A fair chunk of the park is being maintained as a 'natural' green space with native trees and a denser understorey to provide habitat for native wildlife.
There's also a picnic shelter and BBQ near the toilet block, plus enough open space to kick a ball around or throw a frisbee.
The two main differences between this park layout and the design that came out of our community workshop are:
1. We'd also suggested a covered stage area near the toilet block to support community events and festivals. The layout has retained enough open space so that we can add in the stage later if we want to.
2. We asked council to include a nature play area immediately to the west of the all-ages active play area. One of the main reasons this wasn't formally included on the design is that council's 'nature play' design standards are quite restrictive due to health and safety concerns.
However there's still plenty of space available, and I'm hopeful that as the local community takes more ownership of the park, we'll be able to create an informal nature play space between the community orchard and the all-ages play area. Kids need to be able to get their hands dirty and climb trees from time to time, and I think there will be plenty of opportunities for that in this park.
We still need to decide on a name for the park, so suggestions are welcome.
Council's park design team will be hanging out in the park tomorrow morning (27 July) from 9am to 11am to share the design and answer questions from locals. Stop by if you'd like to ask any questions...
In February and March 2019, we held a public meeting followed by a community design workshop to facilitate local residents to decide what improvements they wanted to the unnamed park at the southern end of Queen Bess St.
The meetings were widely advertised via printed letters to the local area, as well as via social media and email newsletters. The meetings were attended primarily by residents of Queen Bess St, Church Avenue, Arrow St and the surrounding neighbourhood. We also incorporated feedback from residents who couldn't attend the meetings in person.
We've produced a rough mud map of where additional features might be located in the park, which we will present to council's parks team to investigate, formalise and implement. Some features, such as improved lighting or installation of rubbish bins - will need further detailed discussion with the relevant teams in council. Down the track, further improvements such as flower gardens or a community garden maintained by residents can be explored once the physical equipment has been installed.
The features we will ask council to install include play/exercise equipment, new trees, a water tap and a large picnic shelter (6x3m), with 2 picnic tables that can comfortably seat 8 people each (see pink area on map) at the south-eastern end of the park - this is at the highest point of the slope. The position of the shelter should maintain a clear view towards the city.
On the eastern side between the path and the fence, the residents (including immediate neighbours) support the installation of play equipment for children, as well as monkey bars that can be used as exercise equipment for adults. This equipment is on the eastern side of the path to avoid impacting the open grassy space, but should still be set back from the property boundary.
On the northwest corner, residents supported planting a larger tree species that will eventually provide more shade, with extra seating underneath. We agreed that the positioning of additional trees should leave a large area in the middle of the park for ball games. We will also ask council to explore planting more trees or climbing vines along the motorway sound barrier, but council arborists have expressed concern that the drainage channel and the barrier foundations might make it difficult to find space for tree roots, and that the sun-exposed aspect of the wall makes it less likely that climbing plants or screening vegetation will survive the hot summers.
Residents have also requested for the metallic benches to be replaced with timber ones as the metal ones get too hot to sit on.
Below are examples of the type of play equipment that could be installed:
We had a good discussion about the merits of some kind of public art installation along the wall to the motorway. After a few years, part of this wall will hopefully be screened by trees, but some of the wall will still be visible, particularly next to the shelter where there won't be room for screening vegetation. Although there were a couple of vocal objections, the vast majority of attendees who participated in the workshop discussions were supportive of some kind of art along the wall.
There are many kinds of public murals, ranging from community projects where local residents get together to paint a single large artwork or a series of smaller pieces, to commissioned projects where one or more professional mural artists is paid to paint the wall. It's also possible to have rotating spaces where a local artist is invited to paint a new mural every six or twelves months. I'm keen to have further discussions among residents about what kind of artwork would best suit this particular park, and will obviously engage in further discussions before any decisions are made.
A few residents also asked about the feasibility of installing an electric BBQ. Unfortunately, public BBQs are very very expensive, not only because they are built to be virtually bomb-proof, but because of the need to dig long trenches to connect high-voltage mains power. After I explained the high costs involved, workshop participants agreed that it would be simpler to just bring their own BBQs or borrow a BBQ from my office when holding community events in the park.
The process going forward
We have provided all of the above information (with a bit more detail) to council's parks team, and will ask them to provide quotes for the installation of the equipment. When the quotes come back, I will then sign off on allocating funding towards this project from my local park upgrades budget. Council will then either complete the work in-house, or go out to tender for a private company to do the work. It will be a slow process, so I don't expect to see the work finished in a hurry, but I'll obviously keep you updated as the project progresses.