The Fremantle Visioning 2029 community project has left a sour taste with many in Freo. I have talked with a lot of people-including some Fremantle Councillors-over the holiday break and no one has said a good word about it.
Questions were raised why the final report is a mere summary of the workshops rather than the detailed analysis we were expecting from consultant James Best, who reportedly received over $ 80,000 to conduct the project. One Councillor told me that fewer workshops have been conducted than contractually agreed on, so what is going on and who at the City of Fremantle is responsible for making sure we receive value for money for this project? The report claims for example that nearly 1,000 people participated in the workshops, but that is factually wrong because many of the 1,000 people attended multiple workshops, so the actual figure of people who participated is much lower than claimed.
Did anyone research if the consultant has the academic knowledge to analyse complex community issues, or was he being engaged as an expert consultant because he is a former Mayor of South Perth? Who was responsible for selecting the consultant and who is responsible for now making sure we will get a decent analytic report of the community process? The Town of East Fremantle has also appointed the same consultant to do a Visioning 2029 there, so let’s hope they’ll insist on a much better end report than the City of Fremantle received, and presumably accepted as satisfactory.
Fremantle sometimes gets into high water with its consultants with former COF Manager Economic Development and Marketing Andrew Eastick claiming the City followed the wrong ‘expert’ advise on the Kings Square development, that now appears to be in limbo. The Fremantle community deserves to know what selection process the COF has to appoint consultants. Do they need to tender and who at COF are on the panel that makes those decisions to spend good money on consultants?
The flimsy Fremantle Visioning 2029 report is not good enough for all the money the ratepayers paid for it. A Personal Assistant could have put together the lazy, plain and uninspiring summary of the workshops held. I attended at least five of them and feel I wasted my time-yet again! In contrast to that one should see the professional report by CODA on the Victoria Quay development. While the same butcher paper method was used as at Visioning 2029, at least Fremantle Ports received an analytic and detailed report about the community workshops. What COF received is not worth the paper it is written on.
James Best is quite clearly respected as an expert on local government as he has been appointed by the WA Government as the Commissioner for York, as that troubled Council has been sacked. That makes the report the City of Fremantle received even more disappointing.
That was a bit of a Clayton launch of the Fremantle Visioning 2029 document last evening, with the document not available till Monday. Not something that has ever been attempted at a boat launch or building opening I think, but let’s move on.
Mayor Brad Pettitt-who is not a great public speaker- did a good and competent presentation and clearly felt good in his skin and was nicely relaxed, while consultant James Best and CEO Graeme McKenzie are always confident about their role.
* What could tomorrow and the next 50 years be for Fremantle?
* How do we create a liveable, vibrant sustainable city for the 21st century?
It was all about the Collective Vision for Freo’s future and that over 950 people attended the five community workshops, 3 stakeholders forums and a combined precincts forum, and thousands followed the process on social media, James Best told us. I need to point out here that I went to all the workshops and often saw the same faces, so the 950+ people participation is not the figure of individuals participating, but just adding numbers of people attending, even when many of these people went to several of the workshops.
The process, we were told, is about the action WE ALL need to take TOGETHER and I believe that is a fair point as too often we expect governments to do it without the community taking ownership. Fremantle has got great creative people with a high interest in community-building and city planning and we are the ones that should be bringing ideas forward and not rely on elected members and a few consultants to come up with the best ways of moving Freo to the future.
The question is how to integrate all the issues, how do we connect, get a sense of meaning, a unity of purpose, an agreement on priorities, and community involvement with the transformative process, the Mayor talked about.
I was not the only one who was very surprised to hear that one of the outcomes of all the consultation was a strong desire for more and cheap periphery parking, because I only heard that mentioned once during all the events I attended. I hope that the document once available on-line on Monday will not have been ‘cooking the books’ to create the outcomes council desires.
Avenues of trees are wanted and 1,000 trees a year will be planted in Fremantle, we want retail that captures the Freo spirit, more than 1.3 million visitors come to Freo each year, the Esplanade might grow and expand to Norfolk Street and that street could be extended to the waterfront at Mews Road.
As I said to Brad Pettitt after the presentations, integration is essential when Fremantle develops periphery parking by making streets more walkable-friendly, with seats, lingering nodes, shade,etc. so that people can enjoy the journey from the carparks into the shopping destinations. Just putting carparks on the edges of the CBD won’t work, so street beautifications need to start at the same time as new carparks are being built.
Good to hear that a new trial closure of the Cappuccino Strip will start on Sunday December 21 and will continue on Sundays during summer. I hope COF learned lessons from the last failure by providing seating, shade, entertainment, expand alfresco areas, etc, because just closing the street for vehicles alone won’t do.
In February next year the Fremantle Transformative Moves will be launched.
I’ll read the Fremantle Visioning 2029 document when available on Monday and ill report more on the findings then.