Looking for the online poll to vote on the proposal for a toilet block in Highgate Hill Park? Click here.
Highgate Hill Park already gets a lot of use from people who live immediately around the park, but also from residents from other parts of West End, Highgate Hill, South Brisbane and Dutton Park. A toilet would make the park more accessible for a wider range of demographics – particularly families with young kids, and people with incontinence.
We’re talking to council about installing a small toilet – with two cubicles – on the Hampstead Rd side of the park, to the south of the footpath (see accompanying image).
- would avoid impacting views from the top of the hill
- is close to the road for ease of maintenance/cleaning access
- is closer to existing underground water, power and sewerage lines
- connects to an existing footpath (minimises the need for more concrete)
- is roughly 40 metres from the nearest homes (similar to existing toilets in other Gabba Ward parks)
We know some residents don’t want a toilet in this park, so we’re holding a community poll to make sure everyone’s view is counted. You can vote in the poll, and leave comments if you're undecided and want more info. (To avoid duplicate responses, you have to provide a name and contact email to create a voting account.)
In the past, it wasn’t common to build new toilets in parks of this size, however we’ve recently installed toilets in other small parks like Bunyapa Park and Buranda Common. We’ve seen that the presence of a public toilet makes a park significantly more useable for picnics etc.
If there's general support for a toilet in the park via this poll, we'll commission a design and seek further public feedback on the details of how it looks, and on what time of night toilets should be locked (this is a relatively easy thing to change from time to time if needed).
If a resident is unable to vote online, they can get in touch with the Gabba Ward Office via [email protected] or call 3403 2165 and we'll be happy to take down their details and record their vote through the system.
For further reading on the difficult question of making democratic decisions about the design and management of public space, check out this blog post.
Brisbane City Council is currently planning its location for new charging infrastructure to support Brisbane Metro vehicles travelling to the UQ Lakes bus stop. (Some very basic 'official' info about this is included on the council website at this link.)
UQ Lakes will be the end of one of the new Metro lines, so fast-charging infrastructure needs to be installed in the vicinity of this stop to service the new electric vehicles. Council has told us this will involve three large containers with dimensions of 12m x 3m x 3m (and additional space around the sides for access) to house converters that will take high-voltage mains power and convert it to the right voltage for Metro charging.
Ideally, these voltage converters should be as close to the UQ Lakes bus stop as possible. But they also have to be somewhere that’s reasonably easy for maintenance vehicles to access, and need to be on higher ground that’s less vulnerable to flooding (which rules out a lot of low-lying spaces around the UQ end of the green bridge) or else installed on elevated platforms.
It seems that UQ was very resistant to having this charging infrastructure installed on the UQ site, presumably because space is always at a premium on the uni campus.
As a result, Brisbane City Council is now planning to install the charging infrastructure on a raised platform in Dutton Park, on the slope beside TJ Doyle Memorial Drive. Long, expensive cables will then supply electricity across the bridge to UQ. This Dutton Park location will involve removing established native trees and garden beds, fencing off around 200m2 of parkland, and introducing a large, bulky and obtrusive permanent structure into this natural-feeling green space.
It seems that rather than negotiating with UQ to get charging infrastructure installed close to the bus stop, council has instead gone for the easy option of cutting down trees and taking away parkland, even though the Dutton Park location is quite a long way from where the charging actually occurs.
Proposed location for charging containers on elevated platform
Local residents and elected representatives are concerned about the specific impacts of this proposal, but also the broader trend in council decision-making, which sees public parkland as expendable ‘vacant’ real estate which can be repurposed whenever land is needed for new infrastructure.
Whether it’s bridges, charging infrastructure or new roads and buildings, the continuing tendency to cannibalise parkland to avoid the costs of acquiring additional land for new public infrastructure is having a negative cumulative impact of depleting access to public green space. Council should at the very least be acquiring sites nearby to create new parkland to offset the public green space which is being lost, but is failing even to do this.
So far, we have very little information from the council about exactly why BCC failed to get UQ to agree to host the charging infrastructure on the university’s side of the river. We also don’t know exactly which trees would be removed, but we have a rough idea based on the indicative location council has nominated.
Access for the charging containers will be from the top of the slope, with a large cantilevered platform structure jutting out from the hillside where these trees grow
If you’re concerned about this proposal, please write to [email protected] to:
- ask that the charging infrastructure for the Metro be located on the UQ side of the river
- insist that no trees be removed for this project
- demand that any infrastructure projects which remove or fence off parkland at least include the creation of new parkland nearby to offset the loss
Residents are starting a community campaign to pressure Brisbane City Council and the University of Queensland to rethink this environmentally destructive solution. If you've like to get involved, send us an email at [email protected] and we'll connect you with the other residents. Whether or not BCC ultimately listens to us on this issue, it's important to put up a strong fight to defend the principle that public green space should not be treated as expendable, so that other infrastructure projects in the future do not lead to similar losses of green space.
We’ll update this page with more information as it becomes available.
We were inspired by the spontaneous surge in people wanting to grow their own food as the COVID crisis emerged in March 2020. 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.
At short notice our office swung into action committing office resources and local grant budget to support a range of local community-led initiatives. We were able to support the creation of edible verge gardens, seedling hubs, urban farms and community orchards.
Check out the block links below for the award-winning Mycelium film and our Creating Food Resilient Neighbourhoods Zine, that beautifully tell the story of these projects and their shared vision.
The third link, Food Resilient Neighbourhood Projects, has lots of information, photos, videos and a map about the various projects.
Get involved in one of our local food resilient projects
- Community Orchards Volunteers FB Group
- Growing Forward Urban Farms - Brisbane / Meanjin FB Group
- Support or create a Seedling
- Be part of the ShareWaste neighbourhood composting system
- Get a kitchen caddy when you sign-up for the BCC community Composting system
- Jane St Community Garden FB Page, West End
- Gabba Hill Community Garden FB Page, Woolloogabba
- Paradise St Community Garden FB Page, Highgate Hill
- Dutton Park Butterfly & Bush Tucker Wetland, FB page
May 2021 update:
Council’s Asset Services team have gotten back to me with the proposed layout of the Kangaroo Point dog off-leash area ('DOLA') in James Warner Park.
Hopefully the diagram is relatively self-explanatory. The dotted yellow line shows the approximate alignment of the fencing for the dog off-leash area, which will have a size of approximately 1070m2, at the northern end of James Warner Park. I understand the standard fencing height for dog off-leash areas is 1.5m.
The space to the west of the DOLA fencing (demarcated with a dotted green line) will be planted up with more trees and understorey vegetation, to expand the densely vegetated area and the amount of sheltered habitat space available to native wildlife. I think this is a pretty good outcome, because it clearly demarcates which part of the park is intended for dogs, while also expanding the amount of densely-vegetated habitat area for curlews, snakes etc.
In the proposed layouts, there are two access gates for DOLA users, one towards the southern end and one opposite Wicklow Street. I’ve also asked the council officers to plant up a garden bed along the front fence of the DOLA to partially screen the fencing. There’s quite a significant setback to the footpath and the roadway.
Council officers tell me they won’t need to remove any existing trees to accommodate the fencing, but as part of the project will remove one smaller tree from the park which they say is already dead. You'll see that the fencing alignment is slightly angled to avoid some of the larger trees. The arborists are pretty happy about getting more space to plant more trees on the western side of the dog off-leash area. Planting up more of the park with garden beds and native vegetation also means council won't have to spend as much money on mowing.
Council officers are recommending that the area under some of the existing trees with denser canopies in the south-east part of the DOLA should be covered with a porous rubber surface, which allows rainwater to penetrate through to the tree roots, but also protects the tree roots from erosion and damage from dogs. They’ve used a similar approach for the New Farm DOLA, which helps stop the space under the trees turning into a dustbowl.
The council workers will hopefully be able to adapt the existing metal rails at the ends of the space by attaching new chain mesh fencing to it, rather than removing it and installing an all new fence.
If you have any general feedback on the proposed layout, feel free to email [email protected]. If you have specific questions about the design, such as about the porous rubber surfacing that they want to use to protect the tree roots, you can email [email protected]
This image shows the rubber surfacing council uses underneath trees in the New Farm dog off-leash area
Previously - March 2021
Here’s an update on the proposed dog off-leash area (DOLA) for the northern end of Kangaroo Point. We’re now on the verge of locking in the location, which was effectively a choice between the northern end of CT White Park, or the northern end of James Warner Park. The results of our consultation seem to suggest that James Warner Park is the community's preferred location.
Given that the project has been a little more controversial than most minor park upgrades, I thought it would be worthwhile to set out as much info as possible on this one webpage to help residents understand the decision-making process so far, and how we’ve ended up here.
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 protected] 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.
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 protected] 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 [email protected] 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.
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 [email protected] 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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