The Western Australian state election on March 9 will decide who will govern this state for the next years and who will represent the people of Fremantle. Will independent Member for Fremantle Adele Carles manage to get reelected or will Labor‘s Simone McGurk, the Liberal‘s Matthew Hanssen or Greens hopeful Andrew Sullivan win the seat?
Find out what the candidates stand for at the Fremantle Candidate Forum debate at Notre Dame University on February 26 from 6.30 pm. Chaired by ABC political reporter Peter Kennedy the evening promises to be a lively debate with passionate community participation.
Fremantle council last night voted in favour of a ban on single-use plastic bags. This is an Australian first as Fremantle is the first city in Australia to ban non-degradable plastic bags at supermarkets, retail stores, markets and fast food outlets. Retailers will have to charge their customers 10 cents for alternative shopping bags, that have to be biodegradable or reusable with a thickness of more than 60 microns.
Retailers who do not comply with the new law could be fined up to $ 5,000 and if they continued to ignore the law a fine of 500 dollar per day would apply.
The no plastic bags law will be implemented over the next six months.
A fascinating report on the future of Alberta in Canada reminded me that all over the world we have the same issues to deal with and that so many things in Re-imagining our Neighbourhoods, a vision for the future of Alberta could have been written about Fremantle. The report by John Purkis, Senior Manager of Sustainable Communities at the Natural Step was commissioned by the Alberta Real Estate Foundation.
The report states that neighbourhoods are the building blocks of society, a society that is not perfect because of urban sprawl, rapid growth of city centres but declining population in rural areas, greenhouse gas emission, water shortage, waste management issues, widening gap between the rich and poor, and declining participation in the democratic process.
Purkis writes that we live in societies where many people can’t meet their basic needs like affordable housing and healthy food. Sounds like our society doesn’t it?
So what does it need to improve our cities? What do people expect and desire? Nothing in the report is mind blowing new and the people in Alberta desire similar things to us in (Western) Australia. Albertans believe that sustainable neighbourhoods should have ample green spaces; parks, community gardens, places to ride a bike and walk, and development that incorporates natural landscaping. (The latter is a requirement missing in Fremantle’s Planning Scheme Amendment 49 and a bad oversight by our green orientated council).
People don’t just want to walk but want destinations to walk to, the report says. Those involved in the community consultation also said they want green spaces to play, meet, grow food and relax in the outdoors. They agreed with the experts that they want to interact with their community and need to have a say in the way the community is managed. This requires inclusiveness of minority and marginalised groups.
Walkability was seen as a priority, as was public transport connecting residents to their places of work, hospitals, schools, universities, social services and recreational places. Ideally the transport system should be powered by 100% renewable energy. Residents should be able to attain most things they need within a walkable distance from their homes. This means creating street patterns as webs that link one place to another. To limit car use good bicycle paths and public transport is essential.
It all sounds very much of what we have been talking about in Fremantle for quite some time now, so we need to listen and learn from other countries and experiences and not try to reinvent the wheel time and time again.
The people and experts in Alberta believe that a sustainable neighbourhood needs to offer a mix of living, working and playing that creates vibrancy and reflects cultural diversity. It is essential to have local shops, community centres for the aged, informal meeting places (green spaces) and entertainment and cultural opportunities. The residents stated they wanted employment opportunities in a diverse neighbourhood that has a good diverse mix of age, race and income, a place where people connect instead of being afraid of each other.
Albertans want socially cohesive and diverse communities created through a mix of social housing, employment, community activities and a mix of people of different generations and ethnic and social backgrounds.
What Fremantle can learn from the Alberta community process is to keep it simple. What needs to be done in our city is pretty clear. Keep the diversity of people and encourage more of them to live in the inner city by offering something for everyone, from affordable housing to super penthouses. Make new high-density buildings mixed developments that incorporate retail, residential and office space. Create a sense of home with local shops, green meeting places and less traffic. Improve the public transport system, especially after dark and on weekends, so that those who don’t live in the inner city will still be able to enjoy it and get home safely.
Connectivity and better way finding in the inner city needs to be improved to make shopping, walking and riding bikes more enjoyable.
Fremantle will only become a better place when the thousands of new people expected to live and work here will find there are plenty of things to do. Fremantle needs more art and cultural facilities and many more green spaces for people to jog, play, barbeque, meet and have community events.
I believe it is essential for our city to make public green spaces mandatory for large new development. I also believe council needs to bite the bullet and introduce a trial next summer to close off the Cappuccino Strip from traffic on weekends. The reluctance to embrace change is holding Fremantle back.
What we can’t allow to happen is that Fremantle becomes unaffordable to those on lower incomes, artists, students, minority groups. Diversity is essential to vibrancy and we need to get the mix right.
It is quite clear that the Liberal candidate for the seat of Fremantle Matthew Hanssen is not a real estate agent as he does not appear to understand the importance of location. We know Matthew runs a successful IT business, although the Fremantle Herald reported he is a sustainability expert. Anyway, why does Matthew believe that Fremantle’s biggest eyesore, the Woolstores, is a good location to promote his election campaign? Why would he want to be associated with Demolition through Neglect, graffiti walls and damaged posters. Is it a good idea for a wannabe politician to hang next to a poster promoting lemons. Location, location, Matthew!
If you did not go to any of the two Australia Day long weekend concerts by the Fremantle Chamber Orchestra and special soloist Rudolf Koelman, you missed out on great music. The critic of the Western Australian newspaper raves about the virtuoso Koelman and his sublime violin mastery, while the audience in the packed to the rafters Fremantle Town Hall were cheering, applauding and stamping their feet in great delight and awe for the Dutch master.
I quite like community workshops. Done the right way these workshops can create a high level of creativity and are good brain storming sessions where councillors, officers and Fremantle residents and stakeholders work together on future development in the city. The one thing that does not work for workshops is when community input is largely ignored and council does what it intended to do anyway, as was the case with PSA 49.
Arthur Head and Bathers Beach are on the workshops agenda and last evening there was a stakeholders meeting, chaired by Councillor Rachel Pemberton, on how to prioritise the spending of $ 150,000 on the development of Bathers Beach. So far so good. What was not so good is that at least two third of that money will have to be spent on rectifying the ‘dustbowl’ problems in front of Kidogo Arthouse. The lose surface there should never have been approved and installed and now we will have to waste a large sum of money on making good a bad decision. That money could have been spent on such things as lighting the cliff face above the beach, lighting and improving the pathway from J Shed to Kidogo, erecting directional way finding signs, seating, trees, etc. It seems such a waste having to redo the surface to the detriment of creating new attractions for the area.
What I also don’t like is that the J Shed artists also have a big dust problem in front of their studios and that there will be no money left to make amends there. They’ll have to wait and see if another $ 150,000 for the development of Arthur Head will address their problems. That is doubtful though as all the historic buildings will need substantial maintenance that will take up most of the money allocated for the project.
I am a wee bit bewildered by a planned David Engwicht chaired community workshop for the Bathers Beach Arts Hub Project. I am not sure that this placemaking expert is really needed for such an art project. My apprehension is based on the reality that there will probably not be enough money to do substantial things at Arthur Head and that building renovations will eat up most of the 150K. Time will tell. What has to be a priority for the City of Fremantle is to lock in the successful artists who have been operating in the Arthur Head area and secure their long-term tenancies.
Fremantle sculptors Tony Jones and Greg James made it into the top ten of best public art, compiled by the West Australian art critic Darren Jorgensen. Tony Jones got the ‘prize’ at the top of the list for his C.Y.O’Connor piece at C.Y.O’Connor Beach in South Fremantle, while J Shed sculptor Greg James was rated ninth for his bronze Aboriginal Family that is situated at Minim Cove in Mosman Park.